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.
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.
There are a few times a year when certain articles just seem more appropriate. Like it makes sense to talk about resolutions around New Years and it makes sense to talk about milestones or lessons learned around birthdays. It also makes sense to talk about self-harm in March.
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.
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.
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.
Last Thanksgiving I branded myself with two little words on the outside of my wrist. And it was one of the scariest things I have ever done.
Pedal fast. The two words that changed my life.
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.
March 1st is self-injury awareness day. But not a lot of people seem to know that. A fair amount of people know when suicide awareness week is, or when sexual assault awareness week is, or that this week is eating disorder awareness week. Every year, these awareness weeks are recognized, as they should be. They address important issues and work towards the de-stigmatization and increased awareness of important mental health issues.
But self-harm awareness day? It just isn’t talked about. And that’s an issue.