#NationalSuicidePreventionDay ~ Cross posted from Facebook with the Author’s kind permission, artwork also by the author, Jordan Landerman
Yesterday I posted a status, and had some interesting responses.
I essentially “came out” as suicidal. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this known to people, but it’s the first time I’ve blatantly posted it on social media.
Loved ones who have known this about me for many months, who I’ve sat in front of and literally flat out told, and who didn’t take me seriously at all before, and actually mocked me, are now taking me seriously because they think making it public is a plea for attention. When it’s private, it’s easy to ignore, but now that it’s public, God forbid something happens to me, and they look like an a$$hole.
Let me talk about suicide for a moment.
Suicidal thoughts / actions can be considered both a symptom, and a disease. They can occur alone, or alongside other issues such as bipolar disorder, chronic pain, self-harm, and terminal illness. They can be seemingly “rational” (I am in so much pain everyday that it would make more sense to kill myself than live with this much suffering) or “irrational.” (I have a great life, good health, and a happy family, and for some reason I want to die.) But disease has nothing to do with rationality. There is nothing inherently irrational about diabetes, about hemophilia, about a broken wrist, or about suicide.
Suicide rests at #10 on the list of top 10 causes of death in the United States.
#1: Heart Disease: Imagine telling someone you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, and they say “You don’t need to take drugs for that. It’s all a state of mind.”
#2: Cancer: Imagine being afraid to tell your friends and family that you have cancer, because they might think you’re looking for attention.
#3: Chronic respiratory diseases: You’re suffering every day from emphysema, but you must hide your symptoms from the world as you struggle to breathe because if everyone knew you were having trouble breathing they would think you were insane!
#4: Accidents: “If she had had a stronger relationship with God that drunk driver might not have hit her…”
#5: Stroke: “You’re dating him? And you know he’s at a higher risk for stroke? Uh, yikes. You need to improve your taste in men.”
#6: Alzheimer’s: Imagine someone suffering from Alzheimer’s being told that they just need to try harder to remember things.
#7: Diabetes: “You’re so selfish! You’re telling me you have diabetes?? You have a 2 year-old child!”
#8: Influenza and pneumonia: Imagine telling people you have the flu and everyone instantly assuming you’re lying.
#9: Kidney disease: “Yeah, nephrosis, sure… look, nobody’s kidneys are perfect. We all have problems.”
You can judge me. Go right ahead. But the truth is, I’ve been dealing with severe depression since I became chronically ill. I’ve lost friends to suicide. I have lived it every day for years. And I’m proud of myself. I’m still here. And I’m gonna still be here for the next hour. And that’s all I know right now. And that’s fine. Because once I get through this hour, I will focus on the next hour. And then the next.
Faking it until you make it. Smiling while your life falls apart. Taking walks when you want to take your life, eating food when you want to vomit, brushing your hair in the morning when you think you are the ugliest person on the planet. There’s nothing wrong with this, and often, it’s the only way you can survive.
The biggest thing that people often don’t realize is that you can be suicidal and want to live. They are not mutually exclusive. I want to live. And I fight really, really, really hard to be here.
Shatter the stigma. Stop the judgement. End the accusations. Let’s talk about suicide. Let’s support survivors. There is no shame here. I have no shame, do you?
Jordan Landerman is a college student and Lyme disease patient from California who contracted Lyme while hiking a trail on her college campus. She is also an activist, and her videos, posts, and art have been shared in some combination preveiously on this blog (InvisiblyLymeMontana.com), it’s associated facebook page, NorthernRockiesLyme.org, and/or it’s associated facebook page (Northern Rockies Lyme Disease Coalition). Her Lyme Disease Challenge Video was extremely touching, and she has recently reached thousands with a very genuine video depicting some of Lyme’s scarier types of moments.
Her post also included the following shared public #NationalSuicidePreventionDay post, which has been shared almost 4,000 times so far, and liked by almost 14,000 viewers (credited via link):
Today is National Suicide Prevention Day. In light of that I’m gonna tell a secret. I think social media is often a lousy mortician, desperately trying to make us all look more alive, and my online persona has historically had trouble telling the truth. Meaning, I don’t post on my bad days. On my bad days I cry and quit and give-up and throw tantrums and then a few days later, when I’m feeling a bit better, I post a photo of myself doing a handstand on the beach. I only understand some of why it feels healing for me to speak directly to depression and anxiety and suicidality within the context of my poetry, when it is still a challenge for me to speak to it outside of the container of art. Thank god for art for that reason. But also, I’d like to be more invested in telling the truth, even when it stirs up my vulnerability and my terror and my shame. We are a culture that shames people who tell us they are hurting, so people don’t tell us they are hurting, and we lose them to that silence. I have lost too many people to that silence. So here is a photo of my couch. It looks nothing like the beach. I’ll never do a handstand on it. Somedays I just lay here and cry.