Girl Talk: Help is always available for those with thoughts of suicide
Anyone who has ever graced a public bathroom knows that after you lock the door and look around at the stall around you, chances are you are likely to encounter a vast array of graffiti.
Some classics still remain as they had in generations before us: For a good time call some random number; this person loves that person forever; and another person thinks someone else is a variety of expletives.
Sometimes there are quotes. The most profound bathroom quote I ever read was “Suicide doesn’t take away your pain; it just gives it to someone else.” I can say without a shadow of a doubt, this quote has saved my life.
According to USA Today, there is a suicide every 13 minutes in the United States. Behind every tragic loss there is a story. As someone who has openly coped with depression disorders my entire life, this is my story.
There is not a day that goes by in my life where I can say the thought isn’t there. I think with most people who have had a history with depression and suicide, they can honestly admit this. If something goes wrong, you automatically think about it. It’s not something I would act on, just a thought. If I am going to be honest about my story, I need to tell you my whole story.
Back to those thoughts. Years of therapy have said that thinking them is the first step to action and I have to disagree. Anytime I have a therapy session, it’s the first question they ask: “Do you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself.” I always say no because I am sure if I said, “Yes. Daily. Every time anything goes wrong ever,” that I would be committed right then and there. Before I continue, this is not an outcry. I am not going to hurt myself; it’s only a thought process.
The thoughts started when I was in eighth grade. Puberty sucks. I was not only going through all of the hormonal changes, but life changes as well. My childhood circle of friends was dissolving and branching off elsewhere, and I felt so alone. Girls who I trusted as my best friends suddenly became distant and, at times, even mean. I couldn’t handle it. I thought that I was the root of everyone’s problem and that if I took myself out of the equation, then everything would be OK for everyone else all over again.
I was wrong.
A few years later, in my sophomore year of high school, my circle lost a friend in a tragic car accident that shook all of our lives. A few years later, I lost another and then another after that. It was in that time of loss you got to see firsthand the impact that you have on people. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the lines at the funerals would be so long. Never could I have pictured the amounts of love that people had until I saw them lined up with tears in their eyes.
I thought about my own. If I did decide to end things, who would be there? What would they feel or think or say? It was in those moments that it dawned on me that I matter. The bathroom quote came to fruition. The pain of loss would spread to those I love most and I could never do that to them.
There are some days that I am still that eighth grade girl. Back then getting help wasn’t really an option. Mental health was a dirty secret, and if it got out that I needed it, I would be the “crazy one” in the family. It took years for me to realize the only thing crazy about it was not getting the help I needed. The feelings were and still are beyond my control.
We all go through shit. That is about as poetic as I can be on life’s crazy turns. If you are going through things and are feeling in the pit of despair, give yourself two weeks. Most often, today’s tragedies seem like blips of overreaction in two weeks. Today, I can’t even remember what upset me two weeks ago because the moment of despair was fleeting.
If after two weeks things still aren’t better, reach out. You truly are not alone and there is always someone to reach out to. Look for the signs in the people that you love. Some days they are blaring red and blinking, and other days they are as subtle as someone just telling you that they are having a bad day. Be nice to people; it could make the biggest impact.
This month, I turn 33. I think back to the little girl in eighth grade who might have missed a lot of birthdays had she gone through with her plan. Parents: Don’t make your kids feel bad for asking for help. Don’t label them the crazy one or brush off their problems. Just because it is a mole hill to you, it might be a mountain to them. Help them climb their mountain. I have a lot of birthdays ahead of me, and I am glad eighth grade me is here to celebrate them.
Girl Talk began in 2012 as a telltale horror story of the city’s most epic dating disasters and has evolved into a column about love, life experiences and growing up. Melissa also has a weekly Girl Talk TV segment on PA Live and WBRE.