I've talked about how I've been positive and optimistic most of my life. It's true, I was one of those naturally, "high on life" type of people. People very close to me, however, suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. I was the person who just didn't understand. I'd say, "just change your attitude, you can will yourself to be happy" or "change your mindset, it's easy!" They would tell me kindly, (how they were kind with this message, I do not know) that it simply doesn't work like that. It may work that way for me, because I didn't struggle with symptoms of anxiety or depression. They couldn't explain it, and I couldn't understand. I didn't realize how you can lose your inner optimism, which makes it so difficult to just change your mindset. I don't know that I was toxicly positive, but I was definitely borderline. I'm still that person sometimes, but I get depressed some days now too. And I no longer say, "just be happy".
Though I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, I think that everyone has conditions under which a loss of inner optimism can be triggered. Triggers vary from person to person. The tolerance levels, frequency and length of the triggers vary as well, so you can't predict who or when something like depression might set in. That feeling of overwhelm starts sooner for some than others, and we're not here to judge someone else's triggers or tolerances.
There's another thing I can't quite explain, but I'll try. At this point in my life, I feel very affected by suicide. I've had those fleeting thoughts myself a handful of times, but my inner optimism won out fairly quickly. When I did go there, it was either because I wasn't getting the attention I sought from a loved one, or because I reached the end of my downward spiral. The inner optimism that was still in there somewhere, forced me to think of reasons not to end my life and now when I feel myself heading there, I go straight to those things and am able to pull out even more quickly. I might even go for a walk, change my scenery or spend time with someone who makes me happy.
When I was in 8th or 9th grade, we lost a student to suicide. He was in 6th or 7th grade. It didn't occur to me at the time just how young he was, but when I think about it now - it just breaks my heart. Especially having 3rd and 5th grade boys. He was a funny kid who was friends with everyone, but I don't think had any good close friends. His older brother was pretty popular, but he was the little brother with ADD or ADHD that just had a hard time. I remember being at the funeral. We went to a parochial school, so the service was at the church connected to our school. The priest knew him well and struggled through the service. He insisted that the boy was playing a joke, and wasn't thinking that he truly wanted to end his life. He said it was a very unfortunate accident. And I think that can happen too. The idea forms, and you don't really want to go through with it - but you're seeking attention and when nothing else works you think - maybe this will do it. I don't know what the real situation was for this boy, but I do know that middle school, as hard as it was on me and so many others - was especially difficult for him.
When I was in high school, a very close friend was rushed to the hospital after her family found her unresponsive next to an empty bottle of pills. This girl was like family to me. Her sister and I were best friends for the majority of my childhood. I thought they had the perfect family, everything seemed to come easy for her. She was one of the smartest in our class, naturally talented at sports, and I couldn't understand what might lead her to this situation. She was revived, thank god, and reunited with her family. When I went to visit her, I didn't understand what happened. Why? What triggered this? They told me it was a chemical imbalance in her brain. I let that be the answer, but I didn't really understand. I think perhaps they were trying to tell me that her hormones were off, and she had a momentary lapse, causing her to make this decision. I don't know why they couldn't say, she was sad, really sad. She lost her inner optimism and she thought this was her only option. But she's feeling better now and we're helping her reconnect with her inner optimism.
It's okay to be sad, we're human and have emotions. Sometimes those emotions can get overwhelming - it's important to get outside of our own heads to better understand our emotions. Telling someone that you're feeling sad can help. There have been times in my life where I couldn't get the courage to tell someone about my sadness. I just wallowed in it for a while till it passed or something came along to trigger the inner optimism and yank me out of the sadness spiral. There are other times where I somehow found the courage to tell someone about my sad thoughts. It was always just that I was sad. No other information needed. Just simply, I'm feeling sad. When I did that, I didn't hear back, "just be happy, you can do it". Instead I heard, "I know - life's hard sometimes - I'm here for you." And that was exactly what I needed to hear. I responded with, it is, and thank you - and I knew we both truly meant it.
There's one more story that has really affected me. When I was a sophomore in college, my mom called to tell me that my first crush died by suicide. I was shocked. This boy was so handsome and popular and a truly gifted artist. I had a crush on him for years. It started in 3rd grade and even though I moved to another school in 5th grade, the crush lasted through middle school and maybe even the early years of high school. I don't know what it was about him, just something there that drew me to him. He was popular, outgoing and sure of himself. I was quiet, shy and insecure. Our paths didn't cross very often, but when they did, he was always kind, thoughtful and considerate. How could this happen? How could that person have died by suicide? I later heard that he became very sad after a breakup. So sad, that he took his own life. I still can't understand - I felt like he could have any girl. But the sadness of breakups are probably one of the strongest triggers for people. To love someone so much, and for them to have lost their love for you. It can be almost too much to bear.
I don't know if it was these stories of people in my circle during my youth or having 2 young boys, knowing that this is one thing I may be able to prevent - or something else entirely, but suicide hits a deep nerve for me. I want to help others avoid it.
It's for these reasons that I chose CHADS Coalition for Mental Health as the first charity to be supported by Kotezi. To learn more about Chads and how we support them you can check out the Charities We Support or visit their website.