It’s lovely outside today. 70 something degrees. Spring. Cool breeze. Lovely flowers. The birds are chirping. Our dog is lazily plopped down in the backyard waiting for a rogue squirrel to try to make it past him.
More importantly I’m safe. Well-loved. Cared for. We have enough. I have a career I love. A roof over my head. Four awesome humans my husband and I made. (that still astounds me!) Sure they leave dirty laundry on the floor, but they’re GOOD people. I have friends that care about my well being. They check in on me or make time for Skype calls, texts, or the occasional in real life time.
There are plans for a quiet Mother’s Day in my future this weekend. Everything is perfect.
But everything about how the world looks is the opposite of how I feel sometimes.
Unfiltered. Still pretty amazing.
I’m in a good place right now, thankfully. Diet and exercise make my depression manageable. I make sure to make plenty of time for self-care. I know there are people I can turn to when I struggle. Sometimes I just take a few hours and do nothing important-reading a book, window shopping, putzing around the house. It’s good for my soul.
Depression doesn’t really care what time of year it is, how great you have it, or how accomplished you are. It often hits you before you even realize what is happening. You’re suddenly overwhelmed at finding your place in the world, or you feel like you’re just not ‘enough’. Everyone struggles with something, but more and more frequently we hear stories and see people who don’t fit the depression ‘profile’ become depressed. They may struggle and get help. They may write about it or share their thoughts and feelings with friends. Or they may take their own lives.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the 2nd leading cause of death in young adults (aged 15-24). There are no true measures of how many people attempt suicide or struggle with suicidal thoughts-but those numbers are speculated to be in the millions.
In early 2014 Madison Holleran’s suicide made headlines. She was beautiful, athletic, well-loved, and a freshman at an Ivy League college. Her family and friends knew she was struggling, but not to the extent she struggled. Her story made national headlines as her parents, friends, and family shared their memories of Madison and have dedicated themselves to suicide prevention and fighting the stigma attached to mental illness. ESPN recently wrote a piece about Madison’s filtered social media images. It is a wonderful piece worth reading, but it’s not an easy read. It seems the disconnect between those images and her internal reality were stark. Too stark for her to overcome.
It’s hard to think about someone who we think ‘has it all’ and has her life ahead of her taking her own life. Life can look perfect from the outside, but the reality is that no one’s life is perfect. We all struggle with something.
It’s so important that we share those struggles whatever form the come in. I struggle off and on as I’ve shared here in the past. It feels freeing to admit that you’re struggling. So talk about your struggles and the challenges you’re having. Be honest. Listen to the people around you. Life is not filtered, and we shouldn’t be either when it comes to suicide.
Please support my Overnight Walk to raise funds for AFSP (the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). I will be walking all night on a 16-18 mile course in Boston. It’s an incredibly moving event and one I’m proud to be a part of. I participated last year and it was life-altering. I hope you can support me in this walk.