Disclaimer: This post talks about serious mental health issues. I’m posting here because as a chronic illness/mental health advocate I believe in being real, honest, and transparent. If you are experiencing a crisis such as the one I mention in this post and do not have anyone to go to, reach out to me. The contact form on this site goes straight to my inbox. Or text or call one of the many hotline numbers. While I’m aware talking to someone can’t “fix” things, it can at least make you feel less alone. Sometimes just that little bit helps. I hope this helps you.
Today’s writing resource post talks about something very serious: depression and passive suicide idealation. It also talks about a safety net. People who check in with you, who reach out to you, and who help you. It also speaks very frankly about the problem where everyone else assumes someone else is doing this.
You see, I am honest about my depression. Since my mother’s death, with everything that has come with that, including a substantial loss of income because I’m no longer getting paid to take care of her, and actively processing decades of grief (since when my father died I had 2 days off of work and then went back to a very toxic work environment, so it was far easier to repress at the time), well, you can read all you want about the five stages of grief, but no one talks about the black hole. The one that opened up for me right after the first of the year with this wide, yawning void of pain and darkness. A stark reminder that my mother died because the medical community didn’t give a damn, and guess what, with several serious health issues and an inability to get treatment (no one treats chronic pain patients in the Ozarks for even basic health care), that I’d die too. And no one cared.
Sure, you might say, people would care. But the truth of the matter is, I’d “fallen off the face of the social media earth” several times and no one reached out. It wasn’t until this past week when I deactivated my Facebook account just to try and get some breathing room, that four friends–yes FOUR–reached out to me in an “oh my god, your account is gone, are you all right?” sort of way.
The “supportive” writing community, the authors with whom I friended, and who presumably read my posts where I talk starkly and honestly about living with uncontrolled chronic pain, my depression, and how I very much wanted to die, but wouldn’t do anything because of my horses and cats — Nope. Not a fucking peep.
Now, some of this is to blame on the media itself. Facebook never shows us the posts from all our friends, and people get on at different times of days and miss things. So I’m also aware that people may not have seen them, may not have noticed, etc. In addition, you may wonder, should you reach out? What do you say? You might think someone else should check into this. We don’t like to talk about mental health. It’s way too easy to label someone as “crazy” or “mental” or “a mess” or “crying for attention” or even “too negative” and walk away, washing our hands of any responsibility we may have to another human being.
For me? My writing resource is those four people. The ones who reached out for me when I was drowning. I’m a little better now. With a change in insurance I’m even thinking of trying one more time, to find competent, compassionate health care. I’m doubtful. I’m moving forward, taking it day by day. The fact that you can see my Facebook page again means that I’ve reactivated my account and am on social media for a small group of curated friends and business reasons. That’s it.
Passive suicidal idealation is defined as someone who wants to end their life, but doesn’t have an active plan or means to do so. It’s a “get out of jail free” card for mental health professionals because it means they think they don’t have to do anything. However, recent studies have shown it’s just as dangerous as active idealation.
Your writer’s resource…heck your resource for life is this:
Identify one person. Just one. More is great, but even one person, who you can be honest with, whom you can tell that you need help and whom you trust to be there for you.
Know your own mental health. When you start to slip, tell someone. Have an “emergency plan” if you can for when things get bad. Even a “safeword” you can use with someone you trust that they’ll know things have gone to hell without the handbasket.
Because the truth of the matter is, with today’s social media world, we can’t count on our messages getting through. And we really can’t count on a “supportive community”, because if there’s one thing I’ve found in my years of being published, is that the community only supports those it wants to. And it loves to label honest to goodness cries for help as ‘drama’ and walk away, feeling smug and superior about it.
I’m still thinking about the resource I wrote about last week. I’ll keep you posted.