World Suicide Prevention Day *Guest Starring Ben*

Suicide Prevention Month is hard for me. I want to be positive the whole time but it gets to me. Not just feeling sad for those we have lost, but also remembering the times I tried to take my own life. So instead, here is my wonderful husband.

Hi, it’s me, Ben! Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Faith wanted to blog today and write something super meaningful and heartfelt but couldn’t so I’m filling in. And I know exactly what to talk about. You see, the reason she couldn’t do her own blog today is because she’s been struggling some with suicidal thoughts recently and feels like she doesn’t deserve to say anything on a day that is meant to be hopeful and positive. I can’t speak on what it’s like to feel that way but I’ve seen someone feel that way and I understand why they would. When you hear people advocate for mental health or suicide prevention it usually has a tone like “Together we can beat this!” or “I’m worth it!” or “I’m strong and I won’t lose!” Not that feeling that way is bad, it’s good! But for people that truly struggle, no matter what they want or believe, there will be times they feel none of that is true and they should just give up. So when a fundraiser or awareness day like today pops up and people are being positive and spreading hope (again, not bad), it’s almost like a slap in the face to someone that’s depressed. They literally can’t feel that hope or positivity (without faking it) and feel they have nothing they can contribute to a movement that is likely incredibly important to them.

It all boils down to the fact that most people don’t want to admit they aren’t okay and no one wants to hear that someone else isn’t okay. It took a loooooooong time for Faith to really open up to me about her mental health troubles. I totally understand why. It can be scary telling someone that kind of stuff because you have no idea how they’ll react because most people are not comfortable hearing those kinds of things. Will I scare them away? Will they just pity me? Will I scare them away? Will they think I’m crazy? Will I scare them away? Those are legitimate fears and I know those things have happened to people that opened up. So, in order to avoid all that, people don’t open up. Instead, they close up and put on a nice happy face to make everyone think they’re fine. That’s bad because you can’t keep those things inside for long without causing some kind of damage and it keeps you from getting the help you might need. People struggling need to feel like it’s okay to reach out for help. People need to be able to say “I’m not okay” without being afraid of getting judged, locked up, or ridiculed for not being “normal”.

I’m gonna break this up for a second by letting you know how different Faith and I are emotionally. You know those things in hospitals that keep track of your heartbeat? Faith is someone’s heartbeat after they ran a race and I’m someone’s heartbeat when they’re sleeping or dead. When Faith feels something (happy, sad, angry) she FEELS it. When I feel something I feel it. And that’s okay. I think that’s part of what makes us work so well together. I had no clue about ANYTHING mental health-related before Faith. I feel gross saying this now but I was probably one of those people that thought, “Oh you have depression? There’s medicine you can take that will fix that. Then you can swing on swings with your family at the park and ride the exercise bike in your gym class again like on the commercials.” I was just never exposed to it at all. I don’t think I ever heard anyone talk about depression besides the “Together we can beat this!” or “I’m worth it!” stuff from above. I had never heard the hard parts or what it’s really like to live with something so crippling.

But that’s what we need to hear sometimes. It needs to be okay for people to say how they’re really feeling. That’s where us people without mental illness need to step up. It’s hard to hear that someone you care about is feeling like they want to die. Really hard. How do you respond to that? I can only speak based on what I’ve been through with Faith and let me tell you, I’ve handled it pretty poorly at times. My best advice for when someone opens up to you about feeling that, don’t take it personally. Because at least in the situations we’ve been in, it’s not personal. It’s not because Faith hates me, doesn’t like the life we have together, or that I’m not enough for her. It’s a feeling planted in her brain that she just doesn’t have any control over. She doesn’t want it there any more than I don’t want it there. The best thing I’ve found to do is just talk through it. Don’t blame anyone or anything, just let us both get our feelings out. There have been times when Faith opens up to me and I try to shut her in or cancel plans thinking that I’m helping but in reality she just needs to talk about how she’s feeling. She needs to know she can talk about what she’s feeling, good or bad, and know that I’ll be there for her and won’t freak out. That’s what a lot of people need, to have someone to openly talk to without fear. I’m not saying that we need to go out and question everyone, “ARE YOU OKAY?? IT’S OKAY YOU IF YOU WANT TO DIE YOU CAN TALK TO ME OKAY???” But if there’s someone you suspect might be struggling, text them, message them. Let them know you’re there if you need them. You never know when someone might need someone to just talk to.

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