I have struggled with this blog and it will probably be one of the more poorly written ones I have posted because I am starting over, for the seventh time, and have committed myself to just hitting “post” at the end, so please bear with me friends. This is in honor of Josi.
This week I got the 5 a.m. call that no one wants to get. A friend was calling to tell me that another friend of ours, our boss, was dead. It was suicide. The “how” doesn’t matter. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the “why”,as I believe there are many. What is important now is how we manage ourselves as a community of people who had worked for this beautiful woman, who had undergone more traumas in several countries to come to the United States as a child than most of us can name.
I work in a drop-in center for people with mental illnesses. All of the staff have a mental illness. I have bipolar depression and have been open about that for years. When we reopen on Monday, I will have to face people coming in, some to get off t he streets, some because they feel a part of the community there and I will have to explain what has happened. I don’t know who will know and who won’t. I don’t know how I will handle it. I don’t want to be an emotionally turned off droid, but I can’t function as the emoting mess I am now.
What I want to be is someone bearing witness to the fact that Josi’s life had meaning and impact, as does every life that walks through those doors Monday. As does every life that reads this blog. Suicide is hell for the person considering it or attempting it, but it is hell for the people left behind too. I am not angry at Josi all the time. I am grieving the loss of her light and friendship and leadership in my life. But I am preparing for the people who I will face, who will have questions and doubts of their own.
World Mental Health Day. I generally have some sort of response to, or celebration of, or reflection on, or links for these days. But today I have nothing for you except these words. Your life has meaning. It always has and it always will. Even when it is so dark you cannot see it, even when you are so alone you cannot touch it, even when it is so silent you cannot hear it, your life has meaning. Please. Keep reaching out. Keep holding out your hand for someone to brush up against in the darkness. Together is the only way we will survive these dark nights of the soul. I promise that there are people trying to build programs that can reach out. Just keep holding on. Contact me and I will try to respond with resources in your part of the world and will not post your response if you do not want me to.
1 (800) 273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the United States. They have 24/7 responders in English and Spanish. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
I’m sorry that my post about World Mental Health Day is not more obviously celebratory. But in reality it is, because I am celebrating the light in each of us, by fighting that this light not go out.