Trigger warning: Suicide.
Hi. This is something that’s been on my heart for a while now, and I’d like to take a moment to remind you that your life matters. Maybe you already knew this, and you feel great about being here on this Earth, in which case I salute you and ask you to share that good word with those around you, because some of us need the reminder.
“We are all on a journey” is just dripping with cliché juice at this point, but, like many clichés, it contains much truth. A “journey” is the best way to describe what can be a lifelong process of genuine self-love, and it’s not a straight line from point A to B, but a winding road. There are peaks and valleys on this path, many of which I’ve shared with you here, and I want to pause right now and speak to anyone who feels trapped in a valley, or who isn’t quite so low today but feels the pull of hopeless gravity that keeps some of us from climbing out of our pits.
You are OK, even in your imperfection. We humans come with more accessories than Malibu Barbie in Mattel’s heyday, from idiosyncratic personality quirks to serious mental illness diagnoses, and everything in between. They’re all part of you, and you matter.
I am grateful to have this continued platform with which to say things that I think are important, or sometimes not-so-Earth-shattering-but-funny-and/or-thought-provoking, and I never take it for granted when your eyes are on my words, which they are right now.
So, as a human on this Earth who cares about the experiences of many other humans on this Earth, even though we may never meet, I want to remind you that if you deal with mental illness, addiction, or have been abused, you are never worthless or beyond help in any way, and there is hope.
Unfortunately, many people don’t have the capacity to love with their whole hearts, and there are certain situations where others communicate the message that you’re just “a mess,” or unworthy of love, or otherwise just taking up space in the world that could be put to better use if you were to vacate it. These people often don’t mean to communicate this, or maybe they’re assholes and they do.
Or maybe that is their version of “love,” and it gets mangled in the delivery, or they’re attempting “tough love” but haven’t properly calibrated their proportions of toughness to caring and compassion. In any case, if you’re fighting to feel like you belong, it can be too easy to get the message from the outside that you actually don’t, and start to think of ways to leave for good.
Please stick around. If anyone makes you feel like a burden, they are lacking the ability to fully care about you, which doesn’t mean that you are beyond being cared about by anyone.
I understand that there are incredibly grave situations of terminal illness or other extremely compromised health statuses of the kind that I have not personally experienced and that I don’t claim to speak to with any authority, and you know I would never attempt to apply blanket statements to what could be dire circumstances.
I do, however, care that you are alive. Which, if you’re reading this, you are. On the most basic level, I need you to know that you matter.
As I continue to fight judgement and stigmatization of mental illness, mood disorders, and even basic emotional and behavioral challenges, this is a sidebar to anyone in the darkest spaces of your personal darkness. For anyone who has thought of taking their own life, or who has paused at a low point to consider that they wouldn’t be missed if they went accidentally, or who has done hopeless math in hypothesizing how long it would be until anyone found their body, you are not alone.
I’ve been there, I’m still here, and you are not alone.
The feeling that you wouldn’t be missed can be so powerful, and if anyone you encounter does or says anything to confirm that in your mind, please know it’s exactly that: in your mind. That doesn’t immediately render it false, because it can feel very real to us in the moment so I personally find it counterproductive to try and pooh-pooh it away with a cognitive brush of the hand; that just doesn’t work. We have to unspool that thread of damaging thoughts, which is not easy, and many of us need professional help to do so, which is perfectly OK.
Please don't let the words or actions of others confirm any of the damaging lies your brain might tell you in your darkest moments. My brain lies to me too sometimes, and it's terrifying to not be certain if I can trust my thoughts. This happens for so many of us, but some are (often understandably) too afraid to step forward and say so, because of that judgement and stigma we’re working on shattering.
We can fight that and fight to save ourselves, no matter what someone who can’t truly see us that thinks of us.
There is another reason why many people can’t or won’t face their darkest thoughts, and think of making that final exit instead: they feel that things can’t ever get better for them. I can urge you to get therapy all I want, but why would you seek help if you feel beyond help? That’s actually a very logical conclusion, but the premise is flawed, so if those are thoughts that you have, please let this other thought in, if you can, just for a moment: you can be helped. You can be loved. You can have peace of mind and joy.
Wherever you are in your journey, until it is over, you are here with us and you matter. I speak about these things because it is crucial to me to exist and thrive in a visible way and do whatever I can to shatter the stigma around mental illness. This stuff matters.
I recently performed in an Off-Broadway play that includes a portrayal of a suicide so graphic that I chose not to invite certain people in my life to see it. It's a mark of the brilliance of our director and the actress in the role, as well as some very innovative staging, that it is as affecting as it is, and as a survivor myself, I had to put in extra emotional work to be in that world eight times a week.
The play I was in is not the reason I'm writing this, however; it's the fact that I'm still around to do it. I'm documenting that here with these words, and you're still around to read it. That matters so much.
If you are in a darker time, whatever that means for you, please focus on the fact that you are here and you matter. Please do everything you can to live your best life, which might not look like someone else's best life, which is perfectly fine.
You know what? You might be "a mess." But your life is not a tragedy, and if anyone’s inappropriate comments or attitude trigger deeper fears to the contrary, please remember that a mess can be cleaned up, swept clean, fumigated, given a fresh coat of paint…it is possible and there are people who want to help you. The goal is not perfection, and your life matters in whatever state it is in right now, even if it's not all shiny and perfect-looking from the outside.
As usual, I'm going to post some cursory resources below, because when I talk about this stuff, I don't want to just plop it in your virtual lap as though it’s simple. It can be complicated to clean up if you feel like a mess, but you can, and I’m not measuring your steps. Life, including the parts of it that may need healing or special attention, is an ongoing process.
And healing is possible.
So please, keep going.
If you are currently in crisis, you can text 741741 for the Crisis Text Line, which is open to anyone, anytime.
If you’re looking for a therapist, contact your healthcare provider for mental health referrals, or try the American Psychological Association’s Locator tool, a referral site like Good Therapy, or the multiple resources of Bring Change 2 Mind, or even a Google search specific to your location.
Feel free to say hi on Twitter! You are not alone.