Check out parts 1 & 2 regarding this series: Mental Health and Suicide are not Jokes Part 2 with a link to part 1 within that post!
*Trigger Warning* Mentions of suicide, suicidal themes, self-harm and jokes in this post. You have been warned.
This is no easy post to make and because of that, I am swimming in anxiety about how to craft it appropriately. But, how do you craft something appropriately when inherently the subject matter is inappropriate?
I ask you, reader, in the title, if you joke about suicide.
Because I know for a fact that I do. And that may surprise you, or it may change your opinion about me. I cannot control those factors, what I can control is what comes out of my mouth and my fingertips.
And that is why I joke about suicide.
I wrote last time about how dark humor is a way for us to express the pain we go through in a manner that can be inappropriate yet uniting because it releases the burden of our pain into the air around us with people who also understand.
When I am feeling suicidal, I have a LOT of dark humor:
“See you tomorrow, Raquel!”
“*sly grin* Not if I kill myself before then!” comes my reply.
“This library is so tall.”
“It’d be great to jump off of!”
(to another person asking about meds for a headache) “I’ve got x, y, and z. Which do you want?”
(Me, not that person) “You better lock that shit up…. I was thinking about buying sleeping pills in the bookstore today.”
And of course, the classic question about how I’ve managed to stay alive despite my own suicidality:
“Well, I really suck at killing myself. AND another way to look at it is that I’m really good at staying alive.”
And maybe that’s just the crux of it all: To think of dialectic thinking from DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), it can be BOTH. Both, I want to die AND I want to live. It doesn’t have to be either/or.
Suicide isn’t pretty. That’s an understatement. And in the society of today, around the WORLD, it’s shunned to talk about it.
I don’t like that, no surprise there. I talk openly about my experiences living with OCD and secondary depression, I talk openly about my self-harm and my chronic suicidality. I live with OCD ON self-harm and suicide obsessions, it’s kinda just run of the mill by now.
I’ve been with the OCD, diagnosed, for two years now. I’m still VERY MUCH a novice in my recovery journey.
And I am a PROUD advocate for mental health and suicide prevention.
So, why then, would I joke about it?
I mean, I guess the first question is, am I making light of it or making fun of it? Am I making a joke (however inappropriate) or do I have intentions hidden behind my words?
In the two years that I’ve been dealing with this form of OCD and then with the depression (which came four months after the OCD) I’ve skittered by with referring to suicide.
“How are you doing?” Someone might have asked me.
I’d rather jump off a building…
This class makes me want to kill myself…”
Any of these could have been my response.
And the reaction to that?
A nervous chuckle.
Only twice, maybe, did I get someone who questioned me further, who gave me a look of concern and asked again if I was okay, who supported me in my time of need.
Sometimes the warning signs of suicide are right in front of our faces.
It felt like I was raising ginormous red flags and waving them in the air for everyone to see, but not many saw the light show.
What’s changed is not my thoughts on the subject matter. The thoughts of suicide I have today are the same ones I had two years ago. The only difference now is that I am VERY VERY vocal about them.
If you ask me how I am and I’m feeling bad, I’m going to tell you I feel like shit. It doesn’t quite matter who you are. If you’re a friend, that’s definitely a bonus, but acquaintance? Gets the same response. Haven’t seen you in a while? Same response. Blogging? BIG ASS RESPONSE.
This is why I’ve come to realize I dislike family gatherings now. Because not much of my extended family on either side knows about my mental health conditions and therefore they don’t know about my advocacy and that’s becoming a huge part of me and who I want to be in the future and what I want to achieve in life. I wish I could be open about it but I feel there might be an expectation of my parents to just keep it to myself and not talk about it…mmm, helllllooooo stigma.
That’s a conversation for another time though.
(At this point, the beginning of this post was written back in December 2016. From here on out, a changing perspective is written from April 6th 2017)
It’s been a long time.
It’s been a long time since I began writing this piece and I was reminded of it just the other day. I was with a friend, whom we’ll call Elicia, and we were discussing the topic of mental health and chronic suicidality, when I asked her if she ever jokes about suicide.
Which, as you know, is the entire subject matter of this piece.
When I first began writing this piece, I was very anxious. This is a subject matter that could easily make some people offended or triggered. Yet I find, in my mind at least, that to joke about suicide in such a manner that comes from lived experience and pulling back the curtain on more… “hidden” intentions is reasonable, if not encouraged.
A common misconception about suicide is that people don’t talk about it. And, that’s not necessarily true.
Even someone saying that they’re depressed, “fine” or “okay”, can be posed as a small window of letting someone in. A whisper in the darkness for help. A hope that you’ll ask more, you’ll show interest, that you’ll care…
But people can’t read minds. And people cannot help you if you don’t tell them what’s wrong.
Suicide is unforgiving to all those it impacts–and it always impacts a LOT of people. I don’t have to know who you are to mourn who you were. I don’t have to know your name to be aware of your deep, inner struggle.
And it’s a terrible, horrible struggle.
To choose to live in each and every moment when the thoughts of suicide rear their heads can be excruciating.
And yet, there are times that exist where the choice isn’t so difficult. For me, in this moment, just typing these words, it’s one. I don’t want to die right now because I have a message left to spread. And I can only spread that message if I’m alive to share it.
Once I’m gone, I’m gone. Same with you–same with everyone. We really don’t need to speed up the clock before our time runs out–death will still be there if we wait another moment, another day, another week, another year.
I don’t want to be remembered as the girl who died by suicide. I don’t want to be forgotten because no one will dare to utter the word: “S-U-I-C-I-D-E”. I don’t want my legacy to be overshadowed by one mere moment out of the billions that I have and could continue to have, because for one second I believed that my brain bullshit was right, and that I was a waste of space, that I was pathetic, that I was a failure, and that I was meant to die by suicide…. Only for that moment to PASS and for me to immediately regret everything I had yet to LIVE for.
Because the feelings pass.
And they return. And pass. And return. And pass.
And it’s those moments of their passing that we can rebuild our greatest strength: The strength to DEFY our minds, to DEFY what they tell us (because brains aren’t always rational anyways) and to LIVE another DAY because one day we’re going to make it BIG. We’re going to CHANGE the world. One story told, one voice from the darkness, one hope held in the lantern of shadows AT A TIME.
Because I choose to inspire others in recovery. I choose to live to make my legacy matter in this world. I choose to live so that I can be a part of a larger change.
And it all starts here.
With this blog. With the thoughts I drift towards, with the creations I choose to make to shape my reality.
So the question is–Do I give in and give up to my thoughts? Thoughts that threaten to consume me and take away my very breath?
Or do I choose a larger purpose? One of Recovery to Wellness, of spreading positivity and kindness, compassion and love, empathy and understanding?
The decision is up to me. Will it be easy? Fuck no. Yet it is within our deepest struggles that we show our largest strengths.
Will I ever go back to joking about suicide? Likely so.
For now though? It’s too soon to joke about it. It’s too real now. Yet I’ve had a moment before these most recent two weeks where I joined in on joking about suicide with someone who was suicidal. And I joked with them that if they wanted to write a poetry book, to publish one, to make a series of them…that they’d have to be alive in order to do that.
My therapist told me this week, in a very serious session (of which my inappropriate affect didn’t always respond well towards), that it wasn’t funny to joke about suicide anymore. That things had turned too serious and I had to be told the gravity, the REALITY, of the situation:
“You could have all the doctors in the world try to save you, and it still could be too late for you.”
“Death comes for all of us at one point or another. Dying is easy, but choosing to live and to make the most out of our lives, that takes courage. Allowing your thoughts to consume you and snuff out your light? That’s a true tragedy. You’ve got so many people who care about you, how do you think your dying will affect them?”
“All of that action towards suicide and yet you still regretted it.”
“You don’t have to prove to anyone that you can kill yourself. Prove to yourself that you can live.”
“What if it had been too late?…It would have really sucked for him to have had to watch you die.”
These are paraphrases, of course. But their message still rings true. I have to deeply consider what it is that I have yet to live for, why it may be that my brain works so heavily against me and what it is that I’m going to do today, every day, to keep myself in recovery and in helping myself.
Because otherwise, I’ll wind up as another suicide statistic. Or, someone who is deeply injured and damaged because of one moment that I thought I couldn’t live through, even if I’m lived through them before.
It’s been about an hour and a half since I began adding to this piece, and it’s time now for me to move on and publish it. I don’t imagine this is the end. If there are problems with my words or the interpretation of them, I shall address them in a part 4. I can see this piece having even a part 5.
Thank you for existing. For reading, for being here. ❤ ❤ ❤
I have an idea on how you can help me in my recovery (and your own) that I will be announcing soon 🙂
Sending you all strength, hope and love.