when your recovery goes to second grade

I remember pretty much everything about October 25th, 2011.

I remember being called out of class during 3rd period band. I remember spending over an hour sitting across from my school guidance counselor – picking at the Band-Aids on my wrist. I remember leaving her office for a period while she called my mom – not knowing what to tell my classmates who asked why I had missed the last class. I remember my volleyball game after school. I remember watching my mom walk into the gym – knowing she knew. But more than anything I remember being scared. Scared because self-harm was no longer a secret. Scared because I knew there were a lot of conversations I had been avoiding ahead. Scared because I didn’t know where we would go from here.

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tomorrow needs me. and it needs you too.

If you know me, you know about To Write Love On Her Arms. I’m not going to go into all that they do, you can just click here. Every year they run an incredible campaign for Suicide Prevention Week. This year the message they are spreading is “tomorrow needs you”. It is three words. It is simple, to the point. It doesn’t necessarily sound like anything groundbreaking. And yet it is important. It is the idea that the world would be different if we weren’t here – that tomorrow would miss us. The idea that we are valued, loved, and needed.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and so to honor TWLOHA’s campaign this year, I am sharing a few of the reasons tomorrow needs me.

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please stay

This wasn’t what I was going to post today. In fact, I had pretty much the opposite article planned for today. Today I was supposed to post a fun article, a lighthearted article, about a favorite brunch spot – the first in a summer series of food spotlights. But quite frankly, that article doesn’t seem to matter much right now. Right now we have something bigger to talk about.

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love is what got me here

No matter how many times I talk about my mental health, every time I share my story it is emotional and often it is difficult. That isn’t to say it isn’t worth it – just that those moments aren’t without a thought. And, like I mentioned in a previous post, I am happy to share my story – anyone can ask. But I think for a while I thought there would be a magic number. That maybe once my pedal fast articles hit a certain number of views then I wouldn’t get so emotional. Or once I told a certain number of people then it wouldn’t be so hard to start the conversation with someone new. That once a certain amount of time had passed then it would all just be easier.

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“sick” days

The stigma that exists around mental health and mental illness has controlled a lot of my life. It has controlled the timeline of my decision to share my own story and to post blog articles related to mental health. It kept me silent for years. In the past year though when I decided to share my story and my life I felt as though stigma no longer existed. I shared my story online and was met by an overwhelming and startlingly large amount of support. Sharing my story has been among the best decisions I have made in my life. And as I moved through the year that followed, I felt as though I had not faced any backlash from sharing my truth and that stigma must be on its way out.

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we need to stop joking

We need to stop joking about suicide.

I’m going to say it again.

We need to stop joking about suicide.

Before I go any further I want to preface this article by admitting that I am definitely guilty of tossing “lol kill me” around. So this “we” in the sentences above, includes me too. I am calling myself out as much as I am calling out anyone else.  I need to do better.

Kill me now. I’m going to kill myself. Ugh KMS.

We toss these around when we are having a bad day. When we are stressed about school work. When we are stuck in an embarrassing moment. When the printer is out of paper and we are running late. Somewhere along the line we decided it was acceptable to threaten suicide in order to ease tension or express temporary frustration. Somehow, suicide has become a mood.

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it’s not just me and it’s not just you

I started this blog because I wanted a space that would be completely in my control. I wanted a small corner of the internet that could look however I wanted it to and to talk about anything at all. I love that this blog is a jumble of thoughts and questions and talks about serious stuff in one post and goofy stuff in the next. But sometimes I get a little too caught up and anxious about maintaining this “randomness”. At times I am too preoccupied with writing articles on a range of topics that I fail to write the articles that are the most personal and really matter to me.

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I don’t know if it is because I’m older now, or because I’ve involved myself more in the conversation surrounding mental health, or because I have shared my own struggle with mental health, or because society has actually made progress, but from where I sit right now, I really do think that these past few years have seen huge steps towards the de-stigmatization of mental illness.

And yet, still nearly half of those struggling with mental illness do not seek help.

So we are still doing something wrong.

And if I’m being honest, we are doing more than a couple things wrong. But for now, let’s just talk about one thing: we are placing mental illnesses in systems of hierarchy.

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