A little over a year from the first time my Dad ever opened up to me about his struggles with mental health was the morning I received the call my Dad would never open up to me again. This opportunity was one my two brothers never had the chance to experience.
It took me to my breaking point before I ever had the opportunity to get my Dad to open up. It took two phone calls filled with inaudible sobbing over school, anxiety and lack of self-worth for me to get my Dad to open up to me about something he had dealt with throughout his life that could plague me for the rest of mine.
When I asked my Dad why he never opened up about these issues until that point in October of last year, his response was “I hoped none of you would have to deal with the problems I have had to deal with. It is like no other issue and I prayed you would not feel the pain I have felt”
That was also the last time my Dad ever opened up to me and I’ll be honest, I am so fucking pissed off about it, I am up in the middle of the night writing a blog about it because it is all I can do. Mental health is not always but very often a hereditary trait. Had this trait been a heart disease or alcoholism that ran in the family, I would have known, but mental health?? People don’t discuss it.
This is truly a recipe for disaster. If a company responds to arising issues in its macro-environment or micro-environment proactively, understanding the implications, it may be able to position itself to weather the storm with ease even though a raindrop or two got on them. Ignorance and using a reactive strategy often sets a company behind the 8-ball, this is risky, sometimes….fatal.
As a suicide survivor, often times, we lie to ourselves and others about what happened to a loved one. We are ashamed, we feel the greatest form of rejection, causing us to give non-descriptive euphemisms or straight up lies because reality is too painful. This short-term solution can cause long-term negative effects.
Gerald Lawson Sittser wrote in his book A Grace Disguised:How the Soul Grows Through Loss “The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”
This quote describes, painfully but truthfully, what we do to others around us by “protecting”. A false sense of security at a young age quickly leads to the paralyzing fear that “no one understands the way I feel” which only grows if kept silent.
As horrible as it is to say I often find comfort in the stories I read or hear about others who have lost a loved one to suicide. My heart breaks for them but as the age old adage and title of countless songs goes: misery loves company. The only thing worse than dealing with the pain and difficulties presented by mental illness or suicide, is feeling utterly alone while facing the pain and difficulties presented by these taboo topics.
I challenge each and everyone of you to stop “protecting” and start speaking. You may save a life.
Signing off for now,