It’s been a challenging week to process. Mentally & emotionally. I’ve heard the word twice this week. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. Suicide.
Twice in the same day, I was faced with working through the very real topic of suicide. First, a friend called crying to say that her daughter wanted to and acted on attempting to take her own life. Later that same day, the news about Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss came across the feed. My heart sank, I uttered a low “ugh” and my head dropped down low.
I quietly sat back this week and listened to all of the opinions and thoughts about tWitch choosing to end his life. “He had so much going for him.” “He was such a happy guy, I don’t understand.” “It’s so selfish to do that to his family and people who love him. There are resources.” “I loved him. Watching him on tv always made me happy.” “What horrible timing, right before Christmas.” With each comment, I let words roll over me being mindful of how they made me feel.
Perhaps my insights, and others like me, have different thoughts and feelings on this topic.
Those, like me, have what is called “lived experience”.
As I sit here on my couch, early on a Sunday morning, days before Christmas, I can see the orange sunrise slicing through the morning’s gray clouds. One lone songbird sings his song outside my window. And church bells clang early morning risers to hear. It’s quiet outside. My cat and my other half are still asleep. Christmas Tree aglow with white lights. And my typing, letting my words flow out onto the page.
When I was younger, I struggled with depression. I had a hard time finding myself in a life in which I didn’t really feel very loved. I felt like a burden, like something that HAD to be taken care of. An obligation. I somehow felt always in the way. I tried to force relationships with people to make them love me, even though they were horrible to me. I did terrible things to my body because I wasn’t taught any better. I was self-destructive and tried several times to take my own life. And only two friends who were closest to me knew how much pain I was really in. Because I let them see the real me.
Most people that knew me then would describe me as outgoing, a little bit wild, but fun. I laughed a lot, liked to have a good time, wore a big smile, was sassy, a survivor, could keep up with the guys, and “hold my own”. The laugh – well – you couldn’t lose me in a crowd. I worked hard at trying to do nice things… for other people. Be friendly…to others. And always do the right thing…where others were concerned. Yet still, the pain would come. It would continue to break me and my loving spirit. I’d get quiet and go within when it hit me hard. And start to wonder who would even care if I weren’t here anyway. The world would still go on without me in it.
The thing is unless someone outright tells you, you can’t know what someone is going through. Whether they’re a public figure or a close loved one. They may try to make the pain go away by doing what they think they “should be” doing. But, people can get really good at hiding their pain. Almost like it’s their superpower. However, sadness, depression, fear & loneliness can be gripping. With a strength that can simulate when you can’t pull two magnets away from each other. Unless you live with mental and sometimes spiritual pain, you may not understand or relate to it. And some people can, sadly, never break free. (Motivational Speaker Mel Robbins offered, in my personal opinion, some great insight in her recent podcast that you can listen to here: https://www.melrobbins.com/podcasts/episode-23) And you may not even know that someone is struggling. They may smile, shove down their feelings, and put on a brave face… because our society says that it’s the “right thing to do”.
Luckily, for me, and I now know, for those who love me, I was unsuccessful at the attempts to end my life. I put in a lot of work on myself, I sought help through friends & therapy, and I started to learn about myself, what brought me joy, and what made me feel whole and happy in my life. I severed destructive relationships that I knew were hurtful to me and created what I call an “exploratory mind”.
I pushed myself. I tried new things, met new people, went to new, interesting places, made new healthy friendships, dove into my spiritual side, and squeezed myself to learn more about my authentic self, not who others were trying to define me as. And I learned to allow myself lots of grace and self-forgiveness. In short, I start focusing on myself and treating myself as I was treating others.
Life isn’t perfect. I still struggle some days. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions (TF&E) have a way of living within us, tucking themselves into the deepest corners of ourselves at times, waiting. You know just in case we need them to protect us or something. But with some work, that may be hard & you think you aren’t ready to manage, you can say “Thank you” to Crew TF&E for supporting you in the past, but let them know that they can stay tucked away because you are walking a different road now.
From someone who once doubted her worth, her purpose, and her ability to be & feel loved, if you are struggling with these same or similar emotions and are considering or having thoughts of taking your life, please…PLEASE do not. There truly are people who love you and want you here. There are even complete strangers who want you here and to help you. There are resources available to you. You can be anonymous, you can cry, you can shout, just please reach out to someone that wants to help you. You truly are not alone. It’s ok to say,” I’m not in a good place.” A list of resources is below to help to guide you.
I send so much love to my friend’s daughter who is struggling right now, to you if you or someone you know is struggling, and sending light to Stephen Boss in hopes that his soul will find love, comfort, peace, and joy upon its journey. In this life and the next. If you find that you are challenged and doubting that there is a purpose in your own life right now, a list of resources is below to help to guide you. Just ask, people want to help.
For anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide OR for someone who is worried about a loved one.
- Call or Text: 988
- Text: 741741
- Call: 911
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Now known as the new 988 National Hotline): https://988lifeline.org/current-events/the-lifeline-and-988/ (Chat with them.)
- American Foundation for Suicide Protection: https://afsp.org/
- The Samaritans: https://samaritanshope.org/
- Emergency Services Program/Mobile Crisis Intervention (ESP/MCI): 1 (877) 382-1609
- MentalHealth.gov: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
- I’m Having Thoughts of Suicide: https://afsp.org/im-having-thoughts-of-suicide
- I’m Worried About Someone I Know: https://afsp.org/when-someone-is-at-risk
Leanne Shafner is our Project We Society Founder & CEO. She is also a trained Personal Development Coach at Holistic Me Wellness and a Suicide Prevention Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She is passionate about helping women to cut toxins of all kinds from their lives, participate in self-care & find their self-esteem. She enjoys inspiring women to find, know and love their authentic selves so that they can live happy, healthy, whole lives!
You are loved.