World Suicide Prevention Day

It’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and today in particular is World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you or someone you love is facing a mental health crisis, you can now reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the US by dialing or texting 988.

Mental Health is a subject near and dear to my heart. Long before I suffered my first psychotic break with reality, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I’d been in emotional turmoil for almost a year before my official diagnosis.

I understand the suicidal mindset all too well. I have made two attempts to take my life.

Recently, I was reading about Vincent Van Gough and a theory that he didn’t die by suicide caught my attention. One of the pieces of evidence against his suicide was his hopeful demeanor in letters prior to his death. I’ve heard similar things said of other public figures who died by suicide. They couldn’t have killed themselves, because they appeared happy or they were making plans for the future.

Mental Health Can Be a Tug-of-War

I’ve been in periods of darkness that seemed without end. But I’ve also been in spaces where I’ve felt Hope and Hopelessness battling inside of me. Depression can sometimes feel like a Tug-of-War. If your loved one is battling severe depression and suicidal ideation, it’s important for you to understand that while periods of hope are a good sign, they are not the end of the battle.

I have to admit, I don’t really know when the battle ends. Maybe never.

There was a point in time where I felt like it was inevitable that one day I would lose. But right now? That inevitability doesn’t feel so certain anymore. I’ll take that as a good sign.

Right Now, as Long as I’m Fighting, I’m Winning

I know from experience that when you’re suicidal, you don’t necessarily need an inspiring speech. Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you and hold you while you cry for an hour. Sometimes you just need one reason to keep going for the next hour. Something as simple as petting your furry friend or calling a family member can stave off the darkness for a little while.

I consider each new day a victory. I look at the little candle on my bulletin board and I choose Hope for today.

I’m not a doctor or a counselor, but I am someone who feels like I’m surviving the darkness. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, know that there are people who care and who want to help you. Sometimes, that’s all you need. ❤️

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Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

In Defense of Hope: The Little Candle on my Bulletin Board

In 2012 during outpatient care for my first major depressive episode, I drew a little design to put on my bulletin board:

A candle with my new mantra on it.

A close up of a burning candle wick with the words: “You DO have a FUTURE and it is WORTH FIGHTING FOR.”

During those months in outpatient care, I imagined hope as a tiny little flame against a sea of infinite darkness. It felt too small, too weak, and too fragile to survive. But still it burned. Still, I repeated my new mantra to myself and carried forward.

There have been points I have wanted to rip that little candle down. There have been days I have looked at my candle and with tears in my eyes have said to myself, “No, THIS was not worth fighting for. THIS has not been worth the pain and the hardship that I have endured. THIS is not enough.”

Then there are moments where I feel that flicker of joy and realize that THIS, my life, my dreams, the future after my first attempt to take my life, has been worth embracing.

It has not been easy. But I think I knew that when I first wrote my new mantra. FIGHTING is not easy. Having HOPE is HARD.

But I count every blessing and celebrate every victory.

World Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and today in particular is World Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day.

Psychosis is a terrifying word, isn’t it?

I have schizoaffective disorder, which basically means I have a mood disorder (in my case, major depression) and I have also separately suffered psychotic symptoms. I was diagnosed with major depression first, after a slow descent into darkness over the course of 2011 that cumulated in a suicide attempt in on New Year’s Day of 2012. Summer of 2016, I suffered my first major psychotic break with reality. As of today, I have had four significant psychotic breaks with reality, each spanning the course of about 3-5 days.

In what I consider my worst break in April of 2018, I left my apartment half-naked, got in my car, and drove until I ran out of gas on the access road. Police were called to the scene, and I was dragged kicking and screaming into an ambulance. As terrifying as that was, it was the best possible outcome that I could have hoped for. There are people out there with my illness who have wound up in similar situations and have not been nearly as fortunate. They are the heart of why I’m writing this.

I’ve been blessed with supportive family and friends. I am lucky in that my medication has, for the most part, worked very well for me. I’ve been consistently employed full-time for almost four years. I’m making it. I’m doing okay.

But for the people who suffer from psychosis who are not okay, support is needed. Donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) are being matched during Mental Health Awareness Month. If you have the means, I urge you to support them. NAMI has provided education, resources, and help to me and others living with mental illness.