It's okay to not be okay

Be advised, this is a personal anecdote on suicide.  This may be triggering.  Read at your own risk.

With it being National Suicide Prevention Week, I wanted to reflect on how suicide has impacted me in my life.  I was thinking back on my adolescence, early childhood, and even now into the stride of my adulthood of how acquaintances and friends alike have been impacted by suicide.  We can’t point a finger towards one age group.  The angst exists everywhere.

I acknowledge that I’m lucky that Facebook, or any social media for that matter, didn’t exist when I was in high school.  If it had, I’m not sure I would have survived. Even then, some of my peers were hurting just as badly as teens nowadays.  Hurting so much that they committed suicide.  My tiny high school didn’t know how to respond.  We tip-toed around what happens and never really openly discussed it.

In college, I remember my suitemate attempting suicide and EMS rushing to our shared bathroom to quickly get her to the hospital.  I never even knew that she was struggling.  She was appeared to be having the time of her life.  We all know that even the happiest appearing individuals can be the ones the most in pain.

Right during and after my undergraduate years my dearest friend from childhood lost both her father and her boyfriend at the time to suicide. Both struggling with significant mental health issues, and she tried so hard to let them both know how much she loved them. That kind of close-to-the-heart forms who you are as an adult.

The last job I held in working with adolescents, we had a student commit suicide after the summer season.  It was crushing to the team who worked that summer, as he was a leader within his peer community.  We knew he was struggling, and we weren’t able to act fast enough.  They started a scholarship in his name to allow for other young men struggling with mental health could participate in that same programs for future years to come.  He was being honored.

I live in a state where the suicide rates for adolescents and adults are double, if not triple the national average.  People ask – why on Earth would anyone living in such a beautiful place be in such pain?  That’s an absurd question.  Anyone anywhere can be struggling.  Even in Colorado.

I think about where I live now, and the people who have been in my life for a reason or a season.  These experiences and encounters make me think about my own decisions, often.  It’s okay to not be okay.  Life is really hard sometimes.  Like, really f-ing hard.  It’s terrifying to think about facing your challenges head on to change them.  It’s terrifying to think about letting people know you are in so much pain.  We need to stop bullying each other on social media.  Or comparing ourselves to others on social media.  It’s a façade.

It’s okay to not be okay.  Just tell someone.  It will get better.  And for those who didn’t tell anyone, please know we honor you and wish you were still here.