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.
On the fourth day of the week-long campaign, TWLOHA invited everyone to share what they were made for. They encouraged us to take pictures and posting them with a hashtag, pictures of us doing what we were made for.
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.
TWLOHA also links us to the Foundation’s page on suicide risk factors and warning signs, which goes more in depth about the aforementioned information.
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.
This is an honest snapshot of what it’s like to feel like you’re trying to fool everyone. I want to illustrate what goes on in my head when I espouse the benefits of living and the words sound hollow in my own ears. These are the times when I wonder if I’m being a hypocrite—encouraging people to smile, to seek help, to live their best life as their genuine self in a do-no-harm fashion, when the clouds descend and I can’t follow my own advice. It isn’t an easy thing to look at, so I’ve put it all under a Read More tag just in case.
As World Suicide Prevention Day and National Suicide Prevention Week approach, I’ve had a song stuck in my head for a few days, now: Waving Through A Window, from the phenomenal musical Dear Evan Hansen. I’ve enjoyed watching covers of it, and I listened to the entirety of the soundtrack on Spotify after the Tony Awards this year. I can’t remember how it got stuck in my head this time, but I resolved that I just had to learn how to sing it. This, of course, logically meant pulling up the lyrics to follow along.
I’ve gone through a few runs of the song late at night for the past couple of nights, and what manages to seep in deeper are the lyrics, themselves. Beyond the instrumentals and the notes sung, the words dig into me not unlike when my cat kneads a blanket. The more I read over them, the more I find myself relating to the feelings of Evan Hansen, the character in the musical who sings this song.
On this blog, I do my best to end each post on a positive note. No matter what the content, I try to see the silver lining in each situation. This is also how I navigate life, how I figure out how to make it through the storms of life. As with my posts, however, there are times when finding the silver lining is harder to do. I claw my way out of darkness towards a promising light, only to find I’m in yet another mirage. There’s no telling how many times I’ll get back up when I fall, but at some point I do feel like staying down. I hide myself away because acting on hope seems foolish—all the fight leaves me, and I just want to block out everything and everyone. If I stayed down forever, though, I would never have discovered the treasures in life—experiences, people, stories I would never heard because I would not have been around to live through them.
This year, the non-profit organization called To Write Love On Her Arms is once again putting on a campaign to prevent suicide and encourage communication that could lead to both education and healing. This year’s motto is: “Stay. Find what you were made for.” For more information on the premise of this year’s message and other pertinent information, I welcome you to read Jamie Tworkowski’s blog post about the campaign, which will last the entirety of National Suicide Prevention Week.
The non-profit sells packs of items for use during the campaign, which can be found via their store. You can also fundraise or donate, and start conversations online to spread the message (all of these options are linked to in the blog post link provided in the last paragraph). There is a way for everyone to participate, even if that means engaging with the people in your life on a face-to-face basis. What matters is that you talk, and that you let people know there is hope—even if the only person you remind happens to be yourself.
To be clear, I wasn’t asked to promote this campaign or TWLOHA. I am passionate about the organization and its cause, and I write about both in order to inform and equip people who may want to participate in this. When they had a street team back in 2013, I joined in order to not just help others, but also to help myself. I help construct my basis for survival in the quotes and art shared on their social media pages, and I believe in healing because of them.
World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, and TWLOHA provides activities for each day of National Suicide Prevention Week.