This is one of the most honest blogs I will ever write:
One thing that my family and friends have observed about me over the years was that in the face of trauma and drama I appear like I have it together. One of my thought processes is “I’ll take care of the people around me first, and then someone can take care of me when things calm down. The problem is, by the time I think everyone around me is okay and it’s my turn to lean on someone – people have already assumed the crisis is over and long passed.
I don’t know when this started, maybe before I can remember. I do remember specifically being aware of it when a family friend took his life when I was 13 years old and I knew that my parents had many people to attend to, including the family of the man. There were so many people around me affected by this, that I thought it was my role to comfort. Later, when I felt like the situation had calmed down a little… I waited. I thought “okay, someone will ask me how I am now…”. No one ever asked. I remember years later asking my parents and family, how come they never checked on me? They replied “you seemed like you were doing fine”.
I actually remember in that same week that I was beat up by a bunch of guys (yup, true – they are all such brave boys – beating up a girl as a group). I came home to a lonely house. My family gone because I knew they were at the man’s house comforting that family. It wasn’t until many years later that I told my family about being beat up. They asked me why I hadn’t told them at the time. I assumed that me mentioning that I got beat up at school would have added to the problems that had accumulated around the suicide. I had been beat up – I hadn’t died.
The thing is, the people who seem the bravest, and the strongest, are still suffering but they are looking at the bigger picture – of helping others until they are safe to have their breakdown. The problem is, most people have forgotten by then, and assume those that provided comfort are okay. News flash is: THEY ARE NOT OKAY.
The people who seem the strongest feel like they cannot unload their burden after they have comforted others. Those are the people that are most at risk. They turn to ways of self-medicating.
I believe this to be true, because the people I know who have taken their lives are all people who made others laugh, thought about others and tried to comfort people around them and make them happy. That was definitely true of the man I knew who took his life during this time. If you ask MOST people if they saw any signs in someone who took their life they always mention how funny they were and how they helped others, and USUALLY they never saw any signs.
We need to talk about loneliness, depression, suicide, and addiction in a different format. Mental health isn’t something that is easy to notice. We need to check on each other, no matter how weak, or how strong they seem and sometimes months and years after a trauma.
Hope you are having a good beginning of the week… God bless.
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
National Suicide Hotline (USA) 1800 273 8255