My recent series of posts has prompted a wide range of responses. Many seek to comfort me. Some congratulate me. Some lecture me. Family members have shunned me. I understand all the reactions. There isn’t a simple, single response.
I am mining core level, existential issues, and they spark different responses in everyone. While my posts are therapeautic for me, I understand that they are distressing for others. We, as a society, don’t want to muck around in the viscera. We will cheer on the soldiers abroad, but we will ignore their plights when they return. We’ll donate money when presented with images of starving children or abused animals. We want the images to go away.
Recently, a friend of mine whom I highly respect posted, “I don’t know what to say.” That is the most honest response. I don’t know what you should say. I don’t expect any particular response. Let’s have a conversation. “Hi, I’m Darren, and I tried to kill myself. Yeah, Iknow that kind of freaks you out. It does me too. Let’s talk about it.” Because, let’s be honest, not talking about it is not helping anyone. I have been shocked by the number of people who have shared with me that they also tried to off themselves, and they have carried that painful, dark secret.
We live in an instant gratification, instant information society. In this high speed, social media world, institutions and individuals desperately strive to continue controlling the spin. People are punished for their tweets and posts and photos. Some of that is justified. Much of it is just pretending the emperor has no clothes. In my case, whom does it help to pretend I didn’t try to kill myself? Does it change any life or business outcome by making that information public? I deal with clients worth multi millions of dollars. They care about how much money I can make for them; not for my mental wellness.
Conversely, I know from people who have contacted me that I’ve made a positive difference. In my small way, I lifted the shroud of disgust off mental illness. People have issues and struggles. Why try to ignore them in the name of spin or P/R? I am one of the highest revenue generators for the company I work for this year, and I did it while struggling with mental illness.
In another conversation, the BSW opined that there was a lack of comments to my last post because it made people uncomfortable. I say good. We’re back to the emperor’s clothes. Right now, people are locked up in horrific conditions. Right now, the mentally ill are on the streets cold and hungry. Right now, congress is debating funding for the military in the trillions; more than the next twenty countries combinded. An infintesimal fraction of that spending would do wonders for our own members of society who struggle with mental illness.
Pretend all you want. We exist. Try talking to us.