Since I was in my teen years, studying the brain has always been my thing. I worked in my teen years at a long term care center that housed pediatric patients. Some had suffered brain injuries. It was so interesting to watch the brain try to adapt from a traumatic injury and how the brain recovered from a traumatic event. It still to this day was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had.
Now an adult and after completing my master's, a lot more of my focus goes into studying mental illness. I'm fascinated in how the brain adapts to mental illness and what happens physically as well to our bodies when it's placed under stress.
I am encouraged by the education that is being done in the community to educate others regarding suicide and suicide prevention. One person lost is still one person too many and much more needs to be done but I recently went to my son's high school football page to check the weekly practice schedule and I saw that there was a post from a former football player's family. Their teenage son had committed suicide. They posted a wonderful heartfelt tribute to their son. I found myself scrolling down and reading through the comments. So many other players mentioned their own suicidal feelings and thoughts. I was encouraged to see that a population largely perceived as "tough" and one that didn't always openly share their feelings was on Instagram pouring out their own stories and showing encouragement and love to this family. And other players and the family of this son were commenting on their comments and thanking them for sharing their story. One simple "we are family" comment by one player resonated with so many others and inspired others to share their feelings.
THIS EXAMPLE SHOWS WE ARE TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, BUT WE ARE ALSO FINDING THAT PEOPLE ARE COMMITTING SUICIDE FOR OTHER REASONS THAN WE ORIGINALLY THOUGHT AND WE MUST START CHANGING THE WAY WE EDUCATE TO MEET THAT CHANGE MORE PROACTIVELY.
The other day I was a little bit shocked by a comment that someone left on a Facebook post on a suicide awareness group.
In her comment she writes, "I get it. I finally get it. You see moms committing suicide. And I couldn’t understand it. How do you leave your kids behind like that? Postpartum depression is what they call it. You don’t feel like the world would be better off without you, you feel like you’d be better off without this world. And then everybody posts, “oh, I never knew. She didn’t say anything. She seemed okay.” ....... She told you. And it seemed small to you, you didn’t get it. Behind on life, can’t get anything done. Everything is expected of her and she’s drowning. She lost herself taking care of others. She’s told you, “I can’t today. I have too much to do” Don’t offer to help with her kids because then the guilt sets in. She won’t let you take them because she feels like she’s already not spending enough time with them. I see it. I see you. I understand you. Y’all wanna check on somebody? Stop by and visit, let her take a shower, help her in some way so she feels like she’s not so behind. Like she’s not alone. Like she’s HUMAN. There’s your signs. Stop saying you didn’t know. Because she told you."
I don't think this is limited to post partum depression. Working in the field I see teenagers who feel "everything is expected of them and they are drowning." As a mother and a wife, there were many moments that I felt that way after having children, through the divorce and now as a single single mom. I don't feel like I spend enough time with my kids, I'm constantly doing for others and it's just not enough. I am constantly hearing "I don't know how you do it all," and it takes everything in my power to not reduce to tears in front of that person. I don't feel human, I feel like a never ending cycle of kids, homework, kids events, making dinner, cleaning, working, yardwork, dogs, doctors appointments, sports, finances, worrying about the kids, and the list goes on and on. I don't feel human. I know that my ex husband and my boyfriend as males often feel and felt different burdens than I did as a woman in providing for a family and for the future.
THE NEW REASON BEHIND SUICIDE ISN'T ABOUT FEELING LIKE THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOU, BUT FEELING LIKE YOU'D BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THIS WORLD.
As a mom, I can't do anything right. I can't keep my house clean but I've pinned 100 different pins leading to sites that show me quick house cleaning hacks I can utilize. I've gone to none of those sites. I don't have time.
I am now a single mom with student loans and worried about how in the world I'm going to retire one day when one of my paychecks each month alone goes entirely to rent. And rent keeps climbing. And I'm supposed to also pay into a retirement account? I work around other educators in their 70's who can't retire.
I'm struggling to know what to do once my kids are grown. I'm their sole parent now, but what will I do once they are grown and gone? Once they have in laws and children? At that point and time what will be the point of living in this world when I can't afford this world? I completely understand feeling like I'd be better off without this world. I don't just feel like everyone else would be better off without me, I feel like maybe I'd be better off without this world. Without the difficulties, the stressors, the feelings of inadequecy and the feeling that I am just drowning all the time whether it be in debt, loans, work, social media, health, my personal life....
And at times you just want someone to recognize you. SEE you. See that I'm struggling and lend a hand. If you ask I feel inadequate and feel like a failure. If you drop cookies off on my door I feel like I'm just a passing thought to you. Please SEE me. Talk to me. Tell me you're free Thursday nights and you'll pick up my son from taekwondo or football practice kind of see me instead of dropping off cookies and running without ever making contact.
I wrote about this at length on my last Thursday's thoughts article, "Yes you are compassionately insensitive." It talks at length about how people are reaching out to each other and how the sense of connectedness is leaving our world. Comments like "she seemed okay" show we don't know and are not connected to that person. We want to justify a reason for what happened. "They were okay. We didn't see anything." There can be no justification for a life lost. We can only look back and say that we did everything we could to save that person.