Suicide. There, I said it. That dark word that everyone is terrified to speak or think of. In my early twenties I was dangerously depressed. It wasn’t chemical. I just had a lot to deal with and I wasn’t dealing with it in healthy ways. I literally didn’t know how to deal with it in healthy ways. So I self-injured and basically lived a life bent on destruction.
There is clarity, and there is barely holding your head above water, then there are the nights when you are drowning. There is depression, then comes the times when the door shuts and all the air goes out of the room. Suicidally depressed. It comes disguised as truth, that at this moment you are facing gritty, ugly reality. It says that those moments of hope, of treading water, is the lie. It says that you, specifically you, especially you, are more than worthless. You’re a special kind of bad and for the sake of those you love, the most selfless thing you can do is to remove your darkness from their lives. Oh yes, I know the lies it whispers to your soul.
But the truth is that everyone sucks. Not just you. We all harbor darkness, just some are more aware of it than others. We’re all human, animal, gritty, dark, and often confused. Most of the time we’re all just winging it.
We also harbor light – yeah, all of us. Varying degrees of laughter, love, altruism, friendship. All completely unique.
I won’t tell you what to do, who to be. You have enough of that. I will tell you that when the lie comes – yeah, he visited me too, and whispered the same thing. Don’t believe it.
If you love someone who is suicidal or depressed, my advice is this: stop trying to tell them what they can get out of life. Change the narrative. Most of the time the question isn’t “is life worth living” but “is MY life worth living?” Tell them the things that they do that bring you joy. Tell them why they are a light to the world, a life worth living. Tell them why it would be a tragedy for that person, specifically, to die. We all need to be needed.
“Life is bits of happiness dancing in the dark.” ~Jaden Payne (my son)
Did you know? Vol State's Advising Center isn't just for academic advice. "Feel free to reach out," says Amanda Foster, Completion Advisor at VSCC. "It can be little things, a crappy day, or something major. Reach out to a favorite teacher. It doesn't have to be the Advising Center, but go to who you're comfortable with, or have them go to the Advising Center with you."
You can also visit TN.gov for mental health services or call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) 24/7 for a mental health emergency.
Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.