Today riding home in Uber I was doing what I always do and yapping away about my day, group therapy and mental health treatment in general.
He asks something along the lines of
“Do you think focusing on your problems helps?”
I explain about getting at the underlying emotions and figuring out what’s hiding in there. About coping skills and how to distract yourself and that sometimes the focus is on living in the moment and not just in the future with upcoming worries or the past with the problems from then.
I mention that mental illness is just an illness like heart disease and that it takes medication and also symptom management and eating right, exercising, lots of different things to try and manage the illness.
And eventually the topic moves to suicide.
“That’s the cowards way out, if someone believes in a higher power, with enough faith . . . ” etc, etc.
Well, my late wife was a Christian woman, she loved God, she also managed her illness to the best of her ability, and she still died by suicide.
“Your what . . Oh, I’m so so sorry, I wasn’t saying . . . ”
And the conversation continues.
“You know, it dawned on me, it takes a type of courage to complete that act. Someone must be in a lot of pain to follow through with that.”
Eventually he asks how long she battled that illness. I told him, I didn’t know exactly, I knew she had been a teen when it all started for her, but that I’ve been fighting them for at least 22 years, spending the greater part of most of those years fighting against my own brain to stay alive.
And he says . .
“Now, THAT takes courage, battling your own brain for years and years just to stay alive.”
When we got to my house he said.
“You know, you educated me today. You’re just talking but you changed my mind about this, you educated me.”
When Parker died two years ago I remember sobbing as I typed out “her suicide will never be in vain” and it’s not. She’s changing lives and changing minds as I speak up and speak out. It’s hard for people to hear, I see the cringes when I drop the suicide widow bomb, but I also see the people I educate.
Speak your truth. Let it educate people.