Tuesday marked my last day of undergraduate classes. I am on track to graduate this month, and to walk in commencement next May. After seven years, three schools, and two majors, I’m finally going to get a bachelor’s degree. This is something I’ve been waiting for, something I didn’t think would happen since I had to drop out of the first university I went to. When I felt like a failure, I didn’t think I’d ever be in this position, much less in the wake of all the changes I’ve made since then.
When you don’t tell people what you go through, it’s like setting yourself up for disappointment from the get-go. You keep your secrets because if they’re too dark for you, you don’t want to drag them down, too. Those secrets start to meld into your identity, to the point where there’s no use in separating them because you lost sight of the differences. If you finally say something like, “I suffer from mental illness,” in front of people you’ve never let into your broken parts, something’s bound to send you spiraling down.
In a previous post, I wrote a reflection based on lyrics from Waving Through A Window from the musical Dear Evan Hansen. At the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, and on World Suicide Prevention Day, it was a starting point where I shared my own struggles to let people know they weren’t alone. Well, the TWLOHA campaign I’ve been talking about a lot officially ended yesterday, but the message must keep traveling to everyone who needs it. Even though official campaigns are coming to an end, the world isn’t fixed and there are still people who feel trapped inside their own heads.
I want to offer an encouraging message alongside the lyrics of You Will Be Found, also from Dear Evan Hansen.
This is my response card for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day/ National Suicide Prevention Week campaign, from To Write Love On Her Arms. It isn’t a very big card, so I ended up just choosing a few things to write down instead of writing down everything. And in truth, I was having difficulty coming up with what I would write on the card. After all, there are still times when I feel like I’m not here for anything special. I have to wrack my brain to think of my reasons to stay, which might sound morbid, but rings true for me a lot.
Since I didn’t have class today, and I woke up when the day was just about done, I wasn’t able to take any pictures. However, I still wanted to contribute something toward the task, and I figured that this blog post would be the next best way to do it. I’ll provide all the things I was made for from my card, but also include what didn’t make it onto the card, yet still rings true. I hope that this encourages you to actively search for your reasons, but to also remember that staying opens you to even more reasons—because you stayed.
On each day of National Suicide Prevention Week, the organization To Write Love On Her Arms creates opportunities through suggested tasks to spread the message of hope and help. Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, when everyone who purchased one of their awareness packs was encouraged to wear their shirts, bracelets, and pins and take a picture to post on social media websites.
Today, on the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, TWLOHA urges us to learn about the warning signs of suicide and encourages us to ask the hard questions that may save someone’s life. The following graphic was provided by their website, with information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and includes signs recognizable in the things someone says, does, and feels.
It is their hope, as well as mine, that you would learn about this information so that you are better equipped to help the people in your life who may be struggling. It may even help you recognize the signs in yourself, which can simultaneously be the scariest and relieving thing. On one hand, you may realize what to call the darkness you’ve been in and realize you need help. On the other hand, there is a name for that darkness, and you are never alone in the struggle against it.
It’s important to keep an eye out for these signs in ourselves and the people around us, because help is so near and yet so far when the issue remains unaddressed. We must ask if someone is thinking of hurting themselves and/or taking their own life, because even if its uncomfortable or scary to do, help is right there for the the taking. TWLOHA assures people in their Day 2 page that “contrary to popular belief, your questioning won’t drive someone to suicide,” which is a worry I’ve experienced in these types of situations. Don’t be afraid to open a dialogue with someone, because as uncomfortable and scary as it might be, it could prove to be the turning point they’ve needed and wanted for longer than you realize. If that person is you, reach out to someone and tell them what you’re feeling.
Remember: Suffering this way doesn’t mean you deserve to feel this pain. You are worthy of help and healing, and whether you stand to help someone else or yourself, reaching out is absolutely worth it.