Edited to add: I worry that by posting this, I will be discouraging people from talking to me. I don’t want to do that. I would much rather that if you’re feeling desperate, if you’re needing help, and I’m the person you’re comfortable talking with, that you DO SO. I’m ok. I will be ok. I will take care of myself as necessary. Never worry that you’re a burden or hurting me.
After Ian’s death, I started talking about suicide. I started researching depression. I learned things. It was what I could do in response. I couldn’t save him… but I could learn more about what was going on, and what might have helped, what I MIGHT have been able to do if I had known things…. Not that knowing things guarantees that. It’s just as likely that even if I’d been an expert and done everything exactly as one should in EVERY SINGLE SITUATION, it wouldn’t have stopped him.
But I learned.
And because I talk about it, now I’ve become the person friends and acquaintances have started coming to when they’re feeling severely depressed or suicidal.
I mean, it makes sense. I’m vocal about it. I’m loudly proclaiming that there’s no shame, that people should talk about it. That people should go to someone they feel comfortable with and connect.
But you know what? While, yes, all that is true… I don’t think it’s a weakness. I don’t think it’s a failing… and yes, I do care about these people, and want them to be happy and safe and alive – I’m not yet even three months out from my best friend, the most important person in my world killing himself. I don’t have the emotional CAPACITY to be the go-to support person. I just don’t.
But at that point? When someone is confiding in you that they’re feeling like that? You don’t have the option to say, “ooh, yeah… I don’t think I’m really able to deal with this right now. You should call someone else.” That’s not something you can say in that situation and reasonably think that it’s not going to be another blow to them that might well be the last one. And damned if I’m going to have that on my hands.
So what can I do? Stop talking about it? I think that’s not a good idea, because this needs to be talked about.
And I guess the answer is, be there as much as I can, and realize that I am not in control of them. That them confiding in me is not them handing me partial ownership of their emotional well-being, or their safety. That that doesn’t make me responsible for anything that happens to them afterward.
I need to keep reminding myself of that, because it’s not as easy as it sounds. But I need to make sure I’m ok. I need to be my number one priority. Because I’m the only one I have control over. I’m the only one I’m actually responsible for. And that’s true of everyone. Hard as it is to remember or believe.
I’ve been linked to this poster several times, and I think this is a good post to put it in. It’s from a Tumblr called boggletheowl, and I highly recommend it. It’s amazing.
I have plenty of sticks.
Written 5/9/2014 (Edited 6/9/2014)
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