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Save Yourself 

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

I don't really like participating in awareness holidays. I know they're important, awareness is important but I guess since I and others are doing the work every day to stay alive it can feel frustrating that the neurotypical will only care when prompted. And is it okay to feel that way or should I, we, do something different?

That's not meant to be cynical. It's a launching off point for the discussions that need to happen around keeping people alive. I know how overwhelming that feeling of wanting to end everything is. And it takes a lot of work in between episodes to survive that one moment.

Because that one moment is all it takes...that one choice, that one neuron firing to change your contribution to existence.

So there are a few things I'd like to say to that.

First, I wish there were better ways to convey the perspective of the mentally ill. And I wish it didn't have to do with darkness or misery. It's not evil. They're not hosted by external spirits. It's a challenge, not a morality.

Second, people with mental illness are trying the best we can. And it's often the pressure to be "normal," or push ourselves beyond our reality, that drives us over the edge. We could use a bit more compassion for perspective. To trust when someone says they're ill and fewer assumptions or logic leaps around being ill.

Third, mental illness is a physical illness. Much like emotions in general, we add a spiritual element as if our consciousness is being overrun by an external force. Again, the challenge is not external or demonic. None of that is real. Mental illness is real.

Fourth, the mentally ill need better care, better support and not just within a special place to go but within our families, within work and partnerships. There are lots of high-functioning mentally ill who feel they can't call out of work due to an episode.

Fifth, mental illness is a personal responsibility as much as it is a social one. You are not the victim of your mental illness. And often working with your illness, seeing it as something to listen to, and not avoid, can lead to better management. You can't ignore it or you'll break without warning.

Sixth, you're valuable just by existing. The challenge with time and work for money-exchange is that we see ourselves as the product and therefore assign ourselves a value measurement. There's also the social value we keep track of. But in the realm of the universe, you are valuable just by existing due to generation after generation of survival.

Seventh, often our logic or emotion is what allows us to end it all. We assume no one needs us or wants us anymore. However, it's also been logic that has kept me alive. It took 13 billion years to create you. Generations of survival. You don't have to prove your worth, just accept it. No shoes to fill, you've already filled them.

Eighth, assumptions will always make it worse. Ask other people how they feel about you. You don't have to agree with them you just have to trust them. If you've landed on death as being the answer you haven't found the answer to what you need. Keep searching. Take your time.

Ninth, as far as I've seen, every suicide attempt survivor has expressed regret after they have passed the point of no return. That means there is something in you longing to survive. Even if it's base-level instinctual. That's what you need to tap into. You need to trust your will to live and get back to instinctual basics.

And Ten, gratitude for existing is the bare minimum of what any human needs to practice every day. Not just when things are good. And not in a way that says "this could be worse" but that to be here, to be, to make choices in any circumstance is something I GET to do not HAVE to do.

Take care of each other. Take of yourselves. Most of the things causing added stress don't matter. As someone who has faced my mortality since 11, I know there a million things we can all learn to let go. The pressure doesn't make it any easier, so let go while you're alive.

You can find your people. You can find your gratitude. You can find your sense of self. You can breathe an extra second. You can appreciate the moment. Be where you are. No positive or negative. No external force. It's all you. One neuron at a time.

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Learning Myers-Briggs helped me understand the difference between my personality and my mental health. Get started on learning it for yourself at bit.ly/dopeintrototype