By: Karlee Paradis
One night a few years ago, I got a weird text from a good friend in the middle of the night and knew immediately something was wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever called someone quite as quickly as I called her that night. We talked all night until the birds began to wake and the sun began to rise, and by then we were deliriously tired and giggling like little kids, and the pit in my stomach had eased. About a year ago this night came up in conversation between us and she confided in me that she had had a plan. That if I hadn’t called her…
These memories are ones I find myself mulling over often, but especially this month, during National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Mental health touches the lives of so many, whether it be through the struggles of our friends and family or our struggles. Now more than ever people are having open and honest communication and discussion about mental health, and because of this I’ve seen the taboo of talking about our struggles dwindle throughout my life, and that’s something to be so grateful for, but it’s a constant work in progress.
Always and especially during this month I see post after post pleading with people who are struggling or having suicidal ideation to reach out for help and support, whether it be to a counselor, a hotline, or friends and family, and while I’m sure these posts push and help lead people who are struggling towards support and resources, I know I speak for so many, my friend and I included, when I say that it’s often just not that simple to expect people who are suffering to reach out. Talking about these kinds of feelings in general but especially in the midst of our pain, it’s frightening, it’s daunting. We fear that in being vulnerable and honest, we will face judgment and labels. That we will be looked at differently, perhaps even looked down on, because there is just so much stigma floating around the world regarding mental health.
I think it’s especially important to remember not just this month but always, that we should and need to be making the effort to reach out to the people in our lives and to be knowledgeable and vigilant about mental health and suicide awareness and prevention. You never know what someone is going through, or what they’re feeling. Reaching out first can give someone the feeling of acceptance and safety necessary to confide in you and seek support. And maybe they don’t open up to you, but you give them the push they need to reach out to some other form of support such as a counselor or a hotline, or maybe they can’t find the words to confide in you, or anyone else, maybe they can’t bring themselves to, but simply being reminded of your love and care is the reason they keep going.
Recently, someone I care about shared a poem that resonated with me, because of this month, and this blog post, and the message I want to convey but struggle to find the right words to do so, and so I’d like to share that here now with whoever is reading.
I’ve Never Seen A Moose In The Wild
by Tanner Olsen
There are days when the thought of leaving slips into my mind. It’s a thought that is dark and far from kind. And most of the time I wonder how it worked its way to a place that leaves me feeling burdened, blind, and behind. But I’m fine. At least that’s what I tell myself from time to time. But I can’t leave. I can’t leave because I have yet to see the sunset over and through the redwood trees. And I can’t leave because I have yet to find rest in the mess and I still have a little something more to give than my best. And I can’t leave because next Saturday I made plans and I don’t want to be late. And I can’t leave because I love the way she cooks and part of me wonders at age 74 how I will look. And as silly as it sounds, I’ve never seen a moose in the wild. And I want to see a moose in the wild.
And I can’t leave because for as hard as living can be
I can’t help but believe there is beauty beginning to bloom out of the brokenness.
I believe there is.
And I am going to see it.
There have been many seasons of my life where my soul just aches-I’ve thought about leaving in the past, and in the most stormy of moments, I have struggled to reach out, struggled to find my voice and the words “I’m not okay,” but I am grateful that I’ve always found a reason to stay. There are memories to be made, loved ones to watch grow up and grow old, love to be given and shared, starry skies to see and fresh flowers to smell. In those moments when the anxiety and depression feel all-consuming, I remind myself of my reasons, and as I continue on this wild journey called life, I only find myself adding more and more reasons to that list.
So to my friends that struggle, reach out if you can because you are so loved, and there are so many resources out there to help, and if you can’t reach out if you can’t open up, find your reasons and stay. Maybe you stay to see the leaves turn in autumn, or you stay for your best friend, or for that next trip abroad, and maybe just maybe, you stay because you want to see a moose in the wild, but you stay, because this world, this place of wonder, you’re meant to be here. So you find a reason, and you stay, you hear me? You stay because the world is brighter with you in it.