Let’s talk about suicide. Volunteers anyone?

I’d say most of us consider suicide a sensitive topic, and it’s rare to come across someone who’s outspoken about their suicidal experiences. But is suicide more prevalent in this day and age, or is it because of social media that makes it seem more common?

My name is Tai, and I would like to share my views and experiences on the choices of life and death. I’m recovering from substance addiction and depression, and I attend the CAMH addictions and mental health program.

In my group therapy sessions we often discuss emotional well-being and its effect on choice-making. During one of our sessions a particular member came out and admitted that he had attempted suicide. Not only did he surprise the entire group and myself, but also caught the counselor off guard because she didn’t quite know how to respond to him.

He recounted that fateful night with vivid description, where he went out and purchased what he needed to hang himself. Continue reading

On Mental Health: If You Got Issues, You’re Officially “Normal”

While going on trips and posting photos of the great times I had has been fun, I need to bring it back to something a little more serious. Something that’s been brewing in my mind and in my heart for quite some time now. Brewing like some good coffee. Okay, sorry …

On October 10th, I discovered that it was World Mental Health Day and since then have come across numerous stories about people’s struggles with their mental health. Actually, since starting here on WordPress, I’ve frequently come across many blogs that serve as outlets for people’s experiences with depression, eating disorders, anxiety, drug addiction, and so on.

A blog about a woman’s experiences living with complex PTSD and depression (click on the pic to get there!)

As I learn more and more about other people’s struggles with achieving good mental health — including people in my everyday life – I realize that it’s actually more rare to find someone who really has it all together than someone who feels like they’re nowhere near society’s standard of “normal.”

I didn’t feel this way for a long time though. I really felt like I was one of the few in life who wasn’t normal. Ever since I could remember, as a young girl, I would get into spells of feeling down and depressed and wouldn’t know why.

It never turned into anything where I couldn’t get myself out of bed or thought of hurting myself. And maybe that’s why I was even more confused about whether I had a problem and if so, what that problem was.

It seems that so many people go through feeling down about life, feeling like they’re not good enough, feeling angry, feeling misunderstood. And many don’t know how to deal with that in a healthy way. It’s so easy to push those awful feelings deep down inside where we don’t have to face them, or even turn to things like drinking and/or drugs to escape. It’s one thing to experiment, it’s another to use it as your security blanket that you can throw over yourself when you want to hide from the world.

I found myself doing just that — escaping from my problems, all the anger, sadness and insecurity that was making me feel like a wreck inside during my teenage years and early 20s, through drinking. At the time, I probably just told myself that “everyone’s doing it.” It’s not like I was getting smashed first thing every morning, nor did I feel like it was an overwhelming physical need that I had or that my life was completely in shambles.

But as time went on, I questioned whether my drinking episodes were all simply social or “just to take the edge off” after a long day. Eventually, I did look at my defense mechanism for what it was and acknowledged that I had turned to drinking as a way to escape the reality I didn’t want to face from time to time. And unfortunately, I know so many others who have done the same to various degrees.

My thoughts from various journal entries over the years.

It was during a part of that tumultuous time that I was in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship, which obviously did not help in getting me to a healthy place where I could deal with the issues that I already had. My mental health was hurt badly through that experience, to the point where I felt so worthless and helpless as a person. It took a long time before I could get it to a state where I felt safe and good about myself. But perhaps more on that another time.

I can write about this now because I’ve come such a long way in my thinking since then. And because I realize now that so many others go through the same thing. I am by no means alone in feeling like I am not perfect and have a lot of things I need to work on.

Part of a poem I wrote during my struggle to get my mental health to a better place.

The impression I give on this blog as a positive, life-loving person is genuine. But I want you to realize that I’ve gotten here through mistakes, lessons learned, and many ups-and-downs that make me appreciate life and the positive influences I now have around me so much more than I would have otherwise. And it still, and always will be, a work in progress.

I encourage you all to understand that everyone is different and that we’ve all had our share of life experiences that have impacted on us negatively and led to our own individual mental health issues, no matter how big or small. Whether you are diagnosed with a mental illness or just have a feeling that things aren’t completely okay in your head, remember that no one is “perfect” and no one feels like they’re society’s unattainable standard of “normal” all, or even any, of the time. And that’s totally okay.

The more we talk about our own mental health challenges, issues, fears, insecurities, and imperfections with those around us, the more it will become normalized and the less afraid people will be of just being themselves.

Thank you for reading with an open mind, and please feel free and safe to share your story here.

- Cafe <3

Blog post: October 10th, 2012 — World Mental Health Day by littleburstsofinspiration
Blog Post: Perfectly Imperfect by vinnylanni
Blog Post: Stop hating yourself for everything that you are not and start Loving yourself for everything you are. by sexandmiami
Blog Post: I am not a loser by bipolarblogging
Photo Credits: We all got issues, Normal is boring