if i had a cat, i’d snuggle that, but i don’t have a cat, but i have this stitch that’s been with me for fifteen years.
something i hate to hear is, most people who live on don’t regret not having killed themselves. most people don’t regret surviving. here’s where i’d typically add an it’s not that i don’t appreciate the sentiment behind it, but …, except i’m not adding that because i don’t appreciate the sentiment behind it — it’s a statement that does me no good when i’m locked in that darkness.
i also hate when people talk about the lies depression tells you, the lies suicidal thinking tells you. it doesn’t matter how often or how forcefully people tell you you’re not alone when you feel so totally alone. when you’re in that dark, terrifying place, you’re not exactly sitting there debating what’s true and what’s a lie your brain is telling you.
sometimes, i think it’s just as crucial to change the ways we approach the suicidal as it is to take away the shame and guilt and stigma that cloak suicide. sometimes, when i hear the catchy phrases, the platitudes, i think, wow, here are great ways to skirt the issue, to let fear render people so freaking ineffective because they’re afraid of saying the “wrong” thing, they’re afraid of putting the idea of suicide in our heads, because of this, because of that, blah blah blah, here are some talking points instead.
because, when i hear that most people don’t regret “surviving,” i think, well, bully for them (screw survival narratives). when i hear that my depression and/or my suicidal mind is lying to me, i think, well, what do you know? are you in my head right now?
and i wonder, okay, then, how do we talk to the suicidal? how would i want someone to talk to me when i’m going through one of those episodes? what are the things that help me? — and i think that it’s not even about what people say, it’s what they do. it’s saying, hey, how’s it going? wanna get some pie or food or coffee? i’d love to see you. it’s saying, hey, it’s beautiful out; wanna go for a loop around the park?
it’s not saying anything at all, simply being there with hugs (and/or ice cream) and a solid, warm, physical, living, breathing presence that says i’m here. i’m here; you’re not alone; and you can cry or just sit there or whatever you’re feeling — i’m here, and i’m not letting go.
because, yes, i’m a writer, and i believe in words, but words never do much for me when i’m hurtling down the abyss — the people who show up, in whatever shape or form, do.
that’s not to put the burden of “saving” us on other people. i think that’s bullshit, too, even just the fundamental notion of “saving” someone. savior/messiah complexes piss me off because of the sheer ego involved.
it is not on anyone to “save” us. that is not anyone’s burden to bear. we are not someone’s responsibility. (that kind of thinking does more damage than good.)
however, i do believe that we should all be here for each other because life is a communal experience — humans are relational, social beings after all, and we all need people in our lives. we need interpersonal connections to thrive, to be our best selves, and we need to talk to people, to confide in them, to be soothed and comforted and reassured by them.
though, sometimes, there are limits to that.
this might sound crazy, but i admit i sometimes talk to my stitch. when i hurt too much, too deeply, i talk to him; i confide in him the things i can’t tell another human because that kind of confession frightens me too much, requires too much vulnerability or self-defense, and i don’t have the strength or ability to help someone understand the pain i’m trying to diffuse.
because, yes, there are things that are impossible to say to another human thing because it’s too personal or because we’ve been hurt when we’ve tried to reach out in the past or because to give some feelings the strength of words feels like too much. there are things that just need to said out loud into nothingness to get them out of our heads but things that don’t need to be heard or known by another human being.
there are things that other people shouldn’t have to bear.