When I sincerely wanted to end my own life, I stopped trying to hide my pain. I would openly admit to people that I wanted to die. That death would be easier. That I couldn’t see any future.
Some people thought I was joking; because who would really admit to such a terrible thought?
One friend didn’t even respond after I had told her over a campfire that I was thinking of killing myself. She didn’t acknowledge what I had said. She didn’t speak… that is, until she changed the subject completely.
Almost everyone told me I shouldn’t think that way.
Almost every Christian immediately told me of all the reasons I should be thankful to God. That I should rejoice in the Lord, and count my blessings.
Ignore the pain.
Mask the pain.
Make the pain go away.
That was how people responded. But there was no way to make the pain go away. So I retreated further into myself, and smiled numbly every time someone offered to “be there for me, any time I needed to talk”, thinking that the offer was hollow, and their comfort would be shallow.
“Why would I willingly seek you out to talk when I know you’re going to silence me?”
So ‘R U OK Day’ only made me bitter, angry, resentful. It only made me want to end my life more, because when asking ‘Are you okay?’, I knew what was really being communicated was, ‘You should be okay.’
And I was not.
So, as the sun sets on Australia’s ‘R U OK Day’, I want to encourage everyone to truly listen to one another. Don’t brush over jokes about suicide; don’t try to wipe away the pain. Listen to it. Hurt with those who are hurting. Walk with them as they seek to find their way out of the pain, and encourage them to seek help.
And I want to encourage everyone as someone who has seen the darkest of days – and who at one time truly saw no way forward except to end the pain and the struggle through death; there is hope. Fight a little longer. Make that appointment with your doctor. Try again with a different psychologist if that first one didn’t feel right. Give it another go. Your life is valuable. There are people who know the pain. There are people who want you to live.