Over the last year, it seems to me that the frequency with which we’re forced to confront the tragic reality of suicide has grown higher and higher.
It has become evident that mental illness is not a condition that discriminates. It does not follow logic. It affects people from all different walks of life. It affects them differently, and with different levels of severity.
I see progress being made. But progress isn’t satisfactory enough when there are lives on the line.
I see good intention. I see a desire to listen and support without judgement. But I experience reluctance. I experience a discomfort with the subject that makes it far too convenient to circumvent in conversation. I experience a stigma.
I’m tired of hearing tragic stories of celebrity suicides on the news every day. I’m tired of the heartbreak I feel everytime I think about my hometown community losing one of the most contagiously room-brightening personalities I’ve ever encountered. I’m tired of nobody doing anything about it.
On February 5th, 2018, I made a promise to myself that I would no longer be complicit in the stigmatization of mental illness. I wouldn’t ignore my struggles with mental illness, I wouldn’t downplay my struggles with mental illness, I wouldn’t avoid discussing my struggles with mental illness.
Today I decided that wasn’t enough for me. I’m tired of dealing with this epidemic in reactionary fashion.
I’m not presenting myself as some mental health professional. I’m not suggesting that my experience with mental illness is universal. I’m just going to talk about things I’ve felt, things I’ve experienced, things I’ve realized worked for me, and things I’ve realized were destructive for me. I don’t know that anyone will find my story relatable, but if there’s anyone out there going through it right now, then I owe it to them to be open and let them know they’re not alone.
I plan on using this platform to share about my experience with depression. About my experience with suicidal thoughts. About my countless experiences driving around aimlessly, trying to work up the nerve to drive off the road. About how I finally asked for help. About how much better things got. About how much people care. About how much there is to live for.
I hope this platform evolves into a community that fosters discussion and support between one another. I hope this platform turns into a place that others share their stories, either by name or anonymously. I hope this platform serves as a translation guide for individuals that haven’t experienced mental illness, but have a loved one that’s fighting a battle with it right now. I hope this platform serves as comfort for anyone out there who may need it.
My Best Self’s first post is something I shared on Facebook back in February, a time of tremendous hurt in the New Bern community. Davis Cook will never be forgotten. I dedicate this platform to him. Every ounce of my effort to fight the stigma, ease the hurt, and reduce the prevalence of mental illness is with Davis in mind.
If anyone wants to reach out–to discuss problems of their own, to ask for advice, to provide their testimonies on My Best Self or just to me personally, or offer any suggestions for how to make this message reach as many of those who may need it as possible–my inbox is always open. I encourage you to reach out. You are important, you are loved, and you deserve to be heard.