Trigger warning: Suicide.
Yes, I know, you gathered that by the title…. leave me alone.
I am not a Kate Spade fan. I liked her products. Her eyeglass case lasted forever, but I knew nothing of her. Still the news of her passing shook me. Today I wake up to hear about Anthony Bourdain and I’m a wreck. Partially because I was already triggered from Kate, and partially because I loved Anthony Bourdain. I wanted to be him (except for the cooking part) and have his jet set, adventurous, sharey, cool, foodie, travely, allowed-to-say-whatever-the-F-I-want kinda life.
Celebrity deaths don’t take a heavy toll on me unless I was a big fan or identify deeply with them in some other way. Whitney? Well, I just loved her since forever, and was convinced I would meet her backstage at her show when she was doing her stint in Vegas …cuz…come on, you know she was headed there soon. Amirite? (read: yes)
Robin Williams was a rough one for me, not because I was that big of a fan…though I really and truly admired his brand of genius and what he gave this world for so many decades. It hurt me big because he was me. Or maybe I was him. Am him. (I don’t mean in the esoteric we are all one kinda way) I try to bring light, laughs, make people feel good, give out good juju and all that. I do it when I’m happy, feeling on top of the world. I do it when I’m down in the dumps and I do it when I don’t necessarily want to, but feel that someone needs it or wants it at that time.
I’ve suffered with depression for many years. So did my brother. I have suffered on and off with anxiety as well. I don’t tell this tale often because I want to bring light and joy and not be the reason people feel down, or sorry for me, or sad, or whatever. I don’t want people to feel a way other than good in my presence. (Unless it’s a rare case when I’m reading them to filth which, honestly, is sometimes necessary and in those cases I couldn’t care less about their feels.)
In the past I was on antidepressants and antianxiety meds. I have done talk therapy. I was later able to control my depression and anxiety through self care and exercise and channeling my feels into something productive. I had postpartum rage after both of my children’s births but didn’t take meds because I was breastfeeding and trusted nothing my doctor was saying about safe meds. My sweet baby brother passed away on Christmas 2016. After this tragedy, losing my favorite human being, I was unable to cope and I am now back on the meds and happily so! #paxilisbae
When celebrities pass away, especially by suicide, it sharply impacts people around the globe in myriad ways. Whether they are shocked, saddened, triggered matters little. What matters is how you react, and what you do, say and share publicly and privately in the wake of one of these tragedies.
Note: EVERY suicide is a tragedy. Every life has immense value, whether celeb or not. We should aim to help prevent ANY suicide in any way we can.
That said… here’s what not do do after hearing of a celebrity suicide
Belittle people who are hurt because “it’s not like you know them”
I’m just a lowly blogger and people reach out to me feeling like they know me. Can you imagine how people relate to their favorite musician whose music and lyrics got them through high school or a failed marriage? Grown men cry and fight other grown men, over other grown men they have never met losing a sporting event. Don’t you dare shame a person for mourning a loss of life, whether it’s random children in Syria, or the King of Pop.
Shame the helpers for not helping your way
Check on your strong friend. Reach out. Don’t reach out just listen. Share this post. Don’t copy/paste posts. Volunteer. Donate. Don’t donate, pick up the phone. Don’t pick up the phone, ring the doorbell.
I beg yuh: Shut. Alltheway. Up.
People want to help. People want to share. Let them. ANY action of an ally, is a welcome action in painful times. Let people share what they’re willing to do and help in any way they feel called to. We complain that folks do too much, and we complain when they do too little. When a person attempting to help others feels “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”… they wont. That’s the opposite of what hurting people need.
Shame the dead because “they had it all”
(Pretend I’m clapping between each word of the next sentence for emphasis, K?)
You Dont Know Their Life!
Everything is relative. Including wealth, fame, fortune, success, pain, love, heartbreak, etc. Everything we feel is an amalgum of our personal history, mood, resonance, thoughts, future, etc. I have cried over a papercut and have fallen down an entire flight of subway stairs, bloodied my elbow and died laughing. (no pun intended) Is one response wrong? My point is everything is relative. Having it all to you can be a house in the suburbs with a pool in the back and no debt. To someone else that would be one of Dante’s rings of hell. Nobody knows what is inside anyone else’s head. You don’t know what they had.
Shame the dead because “suicide is selfish” or “the Lord will punish them”
I’m not sure if the people who say this know exactly how ignorant, cold, and/or misaligned they sound. And I’m not one to trash another’s religious beliefs, but I’ll just say this. My God isn’t petty.
As for the selfishness. Most people considering suicide aren’t thinking about taking anything away from others. They are seeking a release from the anguish. A reprieve from the incessant, unrelenting pain, confusion, confliction, spiraling thoughts, self loathing, etc. Leave them alone. Wish them well on the other side or shut your bloody mouth.
Share what you would have done in their shoes
Nobody cares. Full stop.
Center yourself in any conversation if you have no personal experience with mental health issues
Yes, you made it through bullying, divorce, miscarriage, job loss, bankruptcy, this pain, that pain, the other pain, and the next one, yadda yadda. Kudos. I’m glad you made it out alive. As for where this stands in a conversation on mental health…. Please see above. That’s like Heidi Klum walking in to Weight Watchers to remind everyone she walked a runway 5 minutes after giving birth. Just. Don’t. Do. It. – It’s ok to be quiet.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Now here are a few ideas of what you CAN do at times like these:
Let friends, family, acquaintances etc know you are there for them and in what capacity
“I’m here for you” is cool. “I’m here when you want to talk or vent, or brainstorm ideas, or take a walk, or just watch some trash tv together, or grab lunch or a coffee, or talk shit on your ex, or if you need me to watch the kids while you shower, or .. or…or…” is MUCH better.
If you are personally triggered by these type of conversations and still want to help you’re in a specific pickle. Give what you are willing to do, without sacrificing your health. Empaths, my sistas, I’m talking to you. (I’m talking to me too lol)
ASK friends, family, coworkers that you know are struggling HOW they need to be loved
This is big. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re willing to do it all, if you don’t know what will resonate with your friend. I always try to ask “How do you need me to love you right now?” Cuz I could do a song and dance, tell yo mama jokes, I could talk your ear off about something meaningless, I can check in on you on the hour, I can sit on the phone with you in silence while you’re driving… what do you need? (Be prepared to receive an honest, “i dunno” in response though)
SHARE resources on social media
I’ve shared some at the bottom of this post. If you do nothing else during times like these, know that this is still a worthy action. You sharing it may happen at just the right time for someone on your timeline. The life of someone who may not know a text suicide hotline exists and doesn’t want to call a phone hotline just may be spared because of you.
UNDERSTAND that depression and anxiety looks different on everyone
This is crucial. I’m happy go lucky and smiley with others whether I’m in the throes of deperession or not. (I mean…clearly not in the middle of a panic attack or something, but you get what I’m saying.) I don’t tell people. I don’t ask for help. I do what has to be done publicly, and then retreat into a ball privately. I don’t want phone calls. I don’t want surprise visits – ps: extra anxiety there. Sometimes I dont know what I want.
Other people may know exactly what they want/need. They may welcome company to not feel alone, may want you to talk some random stuff so they can escape their minds. There is no one face of depression. So, though it may be shocking to you that your friend Linda was just keekeeing with you at the company picnic and is hospitalized this morning for an attempted suicide, know that this is super common. And don’t guilt yourself for not knowing. Some living with depression are expert hiders. Ask me how I know.
EDUCATE yourself on the many faces depression, bipolar, anxiety, PPD, PPR, etc can take
Here are a few places you can turn: psych.org, suicidepreventionlifeline.org, nimh.nih.gov, beyondblue.org, speakingofsuicide.com
Legit, google it. I’m not trying to be funny. Do yourself a service and get to researching.
LISTEN when people are sharing without discounting their opinion
Psychiatrist Soroya Bacchus, M.D. says: “You shouldn’t judge anybody. I’m amazed at how people say ‘maybe go to church’ or ‘maybe there’s something you did last week’ that’s causing these feelings. Just listen. Don’t offer any advice, or minimize it. I see a lot of patients who come in and their loved ones are trying to trivialize it because they’re uncomfortable. Recognize that you’re uncomfortable talking about this, don’t judge, just ask are you okay? and listen!”
Hey, you heard tha docta.
THINK before you speak
After you listen…think carefully before you respond. It’s okay to say things like “I don’t even know how to respond. I just love you.” It’s okay to feel uncomfortable as hell with big heavy feelings being unloaded on you. But be thoughtful and lead with love when you respond.
Additionally, when sharing on social media, edit your post. Then re-read and edit again. Ask yourself if what you are sharing is useful, love-filled, going to bless someone, or not. If not, edit a next time or just delete that ish. #ijs
GIVE LOVE or GIVE SILENCE.
Both can be a welcome gift.
Ya feel me?
IF YOU ARE HURTING RIGHT NOW
IF YOU ARE LONELY TRIGGERED LOST TIRED DEPRESSED ANXIOUS MOURNING WEEPY UNSURE WHAT YOU”RE FEELING ….ANYTHING! IF YOU ARE ANYTHING OTHER THAN HAPPY… KNOW THERE IS HELP:
Argentina: +5402234930430 // Australia: 131114 // Austria: 017133374 // Belgium: 106 // Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05 // Botswana: 3911270 // Brazil: 212339191 // Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal) // Croatia: 014833888 // Denmark: +4570201201 // Egypt: 7621602 // Finland: 010 195 202 // France: 0145394000 // Germany: 08001810771 // Holland: 09000767 // Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000 // Hungary: 116123 // India: 8888817666 // Ireland: +4408457909090 // Italy: 800860022 // Japan: +810352869090 // Mexico: 5255102550 // New Zealand: 045861048 // Norway: +4781533300 // Philippines: 028969191 // Poland: 5270000 // Russia: 0078202577577 // Spain: 914590050 // South Africa: 0514445691 // Sweden: 46317112400 // Switzerland: 143 // United Kingdom: 08457909090 // USA: 18002738255
If you know of others, comment below and I will add them to this list.
Crisis Text Line:
Crisis Text Line is availabie at 741741. Day or night.
Therapy Apps: TalkSpace, SAM, MindKit, MoodShift, WhatsUp,
Facebook Support Groups: There are plenty. Just do a quickie search on the top bar in Facebook. If you are a talker and want to be “anonymous” try it. If it triggers you, stay away. Obvi.
In Person Support Groups: Your local hospital, community center, YMCA can help you find one. You can google for one in your area or use Psychologytoday.com or Healthfinder.com or call your insurance provider.
Hospitals – You can always check yourself in to be held if you’re feeling like hurting yourself. Nobody there will judge you. It happens all the time.
Therapy in person – this was a huge game changer for me. Check with your insurance provider for psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists in your area. You can also ask le google as well.
If you are reading this. If you have made it down this far. PLEASE share this.
If you are hurting, I’m online at facebook.com/daniellefaust and I live with my phone nearby and I have FB Messenger on at all times. Day/Night. I’m eastern time, but I am a light sleeper. If you are hurting and considering hurting yourself and don’t like the options above, FB MSG me and let me know how to love you.
I’m not fucking around.
Dani, this post is golden. I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll just say thank you for sharing this. I’ve resonated with this in so many ways. You’ve helped me and I’m sure you have helped others with this as well.
I’m so happy that people reached out to me even if it was on messenger. When I tell folks I’m there I mean it. This ish is hard and I just wanna cuss when folks tell me their family told them to just pray or get over it. Summer time is our busiest time of year and also when more people attempt to commit suicide. It’s such a shame that there’s still so much of a stigma associated with seeking help.
Elle (CleverlyChanging) says
Very comforting message. I have several family members who suffer from depression and it’s not something that you can really keep a pulse on. You can love them unconditionally, but you can’t control them. Thanks for your words of wisdom surrounding these perilous times. I just wish more people had compassion and empathy for others, I really think more of those traits would go a long way in our society today.