It’s difficult and weird to talk about death and dying and grieving, so fair warning, this is going to be difficult and weird.
When someone dies, the feelings of people that knew them often follow a similar pattern. People differ in how they actualize their grief but at the end of the day the essence of grief is the same. That’s kind of why we have the word grief.
There are exceptions, and there’s one exception that I’m particularly qualified to speak on. When you’re depressed, and someone you know kills themselves, it’s really weird. You feel grief, because someone you knew (and more than that, one of the few people you knew that would have some comprehension of what you’re going through) died, but also you feel a bit… jealous. A bit outraged.
Like, how dare they? How dare they quit when you are working so hard to keep going. The quiet thought that they are the lucky ones. They get to stop suffering and you are stuck here with your thoughts and now one fewer person that might understand. And killing yourself suddenly becomes that much more of an option because someone you know has done it and now it’s a real possibility.
I have been a defender of self-harm in the past, as much as one can be – a “defender” in the sense that I strongly believed it was simply more explicit than harmful behaviours like drinking too much, doing much of the drugs, having unsafe sex, all that.
That explicit nature is the crux of the matter though, right? As soon as you make the jump from being able to lie to yourself that alcohol is just a social lubricant (and grownups think nothing of putting away two bottles of wine in a night so your drinking is fine) to admitting that you want to hurt yourself, there’s a huge associated change of thinking. Taking the step from being depressed to engaging in self-injurious behaviour is something of a cataclysmic leap and yes, that puts you at a much higher risk.
Due to this gulf between people that do and don’t self-harm, it’s mad difficult to ever meet anyone that actually gets what you’re going through. If I see someone with self-harm scars and it’s in a situation where it wouldn’t look out of the ordinary for me to talk to them, I always do my best to have a chat, to let them know they’re not alone.
Because the isolation is the killer, the feeling that you can’t turn to or talk to anyone because most people would never ever imagine that hurting themselves is… a solution… to anything? It legitimately doesn’t make sense and there’s no way to explain it to make it make sense. The people that do understand are so rare, and generally in a place that means they’re never gonna say hey we’re the same. Me too, dude. Me too.
I am going somewhere with this, it’s not just awkward chats, and the place this is going is: if you self-harm, if you are suicidally depressed, please, please take care of yourself. Even if you haven’t spoken to someone like you, even if you don’t think your presence is helping anyone, do your best to stay. It’s likely that there will be someone that feels like you that will be affected by your choices, possibly to the extent that they make similar choices.
Nobody lives in isolation, and you can’t kid yourself that your life is wholly personal. Your life is a combination of who you are and how that interacts with everyone around you. Even if you are careless with yourself, it’s irresponsible to behave as though you are only being careless with yourself.
This article was first published on Sophia's personal blog at confournament.wordpress.com