In honour of today the 10th of September being World Suicide Prevention day I want to talk about feelings, and how sometimes those of us who suffer from anxiety, depression, OCD, and other mental illnesses of that nature will sometimes feel an overwhelming and seemingly inescapable darkness creep up on us from time to time.
Sometimes it will sweep over us like a wave, so fast and huge and unexpected that it leaves us breathless on impact. Sometimes it will be a slow build, pieces of it in varying degrees of size and objective importance building up until suddenly we're covered by a dark shadow and we don't know if we'll ever see the sun again.
Sometimes our hearts ache or our fingers get numb or we can't move, no matter hard we try, and we would do absolutely anything to just make it stop.
Absolutely anything, and that is a terrifying way of thinking.
I'm not going to lie and say I know what it's like to feel suicidal, but I know what it's like to feel darkness, to feel desperate in that darkness, and to do destructive things in order to try and alleviate that darkness.
The last thing I would want in a moment like that, a moment of such severe darkness, is to be lectured. It's difficult to cope when you're being made to feel guilty because of a pain that I don't as yet have any control over, a pain that you may never have complete control over.
That's something I'm guilty of, I will admit; as someone who is quite passionate about mental health and suicide prevention I have found myself describing suicide as "cowardly" and "despicable" and all other kinds of aggressive words which would only add to someone's misery rather than aid them in their survival. It's only upon recent reflection, and understanding the darkness I sometimes go through and what I need in those moments that I understand how unhelpful that is to the cause and the people suffering.
Those of us who care about suicide prevention need to practice a ferocious empathy for those we aim to help in whatever small ways we can, and while you can be firm or strict with someone you are trying to help you should be sure your words aren't unintentionally detrimental, and that you express to the person that your words come from a place of love. To feel as though you might be hated when you are so emotionally vulnerable can shake a person to their core.
The UK charity Mind has some really wonderful stuff for World Suicide Prevention day here and here, and my favourite charity To Write Love on Her Arms are running a really wonderful We'll See You Tomorrow campaign for suicide prevention, one which you can get more information on and buy merchandise for here. For more information on suicide prevention, I would definitely read through the #WSPD15 and #NSP15 hashtags on twitter and Instagram as well as looking into recent projects like the semicolon project.
As a final point, I've spoken about affirmations and mantras on this blog before, and there is a phrase from To Write Love on Her Arms which I think is a wonderful affirmation, particularly for those wrestling with suicidal or self-destructive thoughts. Maybe keep it in your mind today, even if you yourself aren't suffering under the burden of those kinds of feelings. Ponder over it, what it means, and whether you can apply it to your everyday life:
I am living a story.
I will not give up.