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  • Laura

Advising Others, Advising the Self

For people who suffer from mental illness, how you talk about/treat yourself can be very different from how you relate to and treat others. I, for instance, tend to give others a bye while I hold myself to completely unreasonable standards. Why do I do this? Probably because I view myself as inferior to others, as a lesser human. The Beast that is suicidality LOVES it when we denigrate ourselves – it’s like presenting ourselves to the Beast on a silver platter.

Does this make us hypocrites? This willingness to hold our own heads underwater while we rescue others who are arguably less deserving (if not for any reason other than because we should instinctually protect ourselves above others)? I have to answer that with a resounding YES. Yes, you are only hurting yourself by insisting you are somehow inferior to others. The Beast thrives on our insistence on seeing ourselves as less than.

Why do we feel we don’t deserve the help we freely give others? When was the last time you told a friend or relative, say a sibling, that they deserved better, whether in a relationship with another or with themselves and been frustrated when they discounted your sage advice? Yet, you would refute such advice should that very friend or sibling do the same for you. The problem lies in the fact that you don’t do for yourself what you wouldn’t think twice about doing for others.

To move above and beyond this state of being takes a lot of hard work and dedication – it won’t happen easily, and it won’t happen immediately, but allowing yourself the space to learn to love yourself is probably one of the very most important things you can do for yourself. You will feel better and lighter once you decide to love yourself; vowing to do otherwise - as I have done for most of my life - only brings you heartache and dramatically increases the chance you will wind up fighting the Beast. This is where “an ounce of prevention” comes into play; don’t wait until you need a cure – by then, it may be too late.

One question I posed when in therapy was whether my suicide would negate my blog. My reasoning in asking the question was because of the semicolon project, which uses the semicolon (usually in tattoo form) to represent a time in your life when you took a pause (either contemplating or attempting suicide), and the time that continued on afterward. It’s a before and after. The person who created the semicolon project killed herself several years ago. The question occurred to me was that, did her suicide eclipse her hard work, her project? I don’t think so; I don’t believe that my posts would suddenly be rendered moot should I suicide.

I don’t have any desire for my blog to be disregarded or denounced because of one stupid act on my part (all that work for nothing??) – which helps me decide every day to choose life. I understand the semicolon project’s founder’s choice; suicide simply closed in on her.

There should be more compassion towards those who attempt and those who complete suicide. Suicide is such a taboo subject; if only we demystified it and made it an acceptable topic for conversation, maybe, just maybe, we could close in on a way to demystify and dismantle the power of the Beast.

There is currently no cure for suicidal thoughts; we only have each other in our fight for our lives. We deserve the grace that we reserve solely for others – we deserve grace from others who are blessed not to understand or experience the Beast. I sincerely hope I continue to successfully beat back the Beast, and I hope my good readers who don’t personally understand suicidality extend grace to those of us who are tormented by it. After all, one never knows what struggles life may bring.

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