To find yours check out End the Stigma on Facebook!
To find yours check out End the Stigma on Facebook!
A few days ago I saw the same article as many others on social media. Amazon, a popular online shopping website, was selling t-shirts that joke about suicide. I joke about suicide, as a suicide attempt survivor and as someone who jokes to make it hurt less. My jokes are not for everyone and I tend to reserve them for my friends with mental health issues who have a similar dark sense of mental health humour. The t-shirts are being pulled after a great petition and letter writing campaign were launched.
Not all Amazon websites have gotten rid of the t-shirts, though including Amazon.ca, the Amazon I use. I did a quick search and found a t-shirt that reads “SUICIDE. Makes our lives so much easier.” I decided to leave a review. 1 star and a comment that reads
I’m a long time customer of Amazon.ca. I am also a suicide attempt survivor. I cannot imagine how horrible the lives of those who love me would have been if I had been successful. Thoughts of suicide have also made my life very difficult. There is nothing “easy” about suicide. It’s horrible. It’s killing people. I strongly suggest Amazon. ca follows what some of the other Amazon websites have done and get rid of this product.
Amazon aside, when this issue first appears on my Facebook feed via The Globe & Mail, I decided to leave a quick comment. I planned on writing something similar to what I just sent to Amazon and decided against it when I saw the 3 other comments. These commenters went on about how people are too sensitive and cannot take a joke and one claimed that people need to suck it up and accept that life is hard. The unsafe space they had created made me change my plan. I left a comment stating simply, “This is bad.” I was very upset at what the other commenters had said. Comments like those would lead me to believe that they have never known (or think they do not know) someone who has had suicidal thoughts, has attempted suicide or has completed a suicide. When you know someone who has been or is suicidal it is a little more difficult to say that the person should just suck it up and accept that life is hard. When someone has died….how can you say that? That is the discrimination faced by suicidal people.
This is a huge reminder for me that discrimination is still alive and well. Suicide is not funny. The only answer I know is to keep talking. I don’t like talking about my attempt or my thoughts and if it means that by doing so I can educate someone then I will do so, safely. I have always been so proud of the mental health blogging community here on WordPress (and other blogging sites). We make a huge difference in the lives of each other and the others out there who read our blogs. Many of you have taught me and from you feedback, many of you have learned from me. Let’s keep ourselves safe and let’s keep educating others! ❤
I am currently reading a great memoir called “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty. I first saw Caitlin on YouTube a few weeks ago on her channel “Ask a Mortician“. Caitlin is an advocate and educator on death. She is death positive and through her work she sets out to change our Western perspective of death. Death is feared by many in North America and we have become so far removed from it physically and emotionally. I highly suggest reading her book, watching her channel and checking out the website The Order of the Good Death.
There is a part in Caitlin’s book where she discusses the day she cremated the body of a young man who killed himself. As she shares his method, her thoughts on it and what witnesses may be going through I found myself thinking about my own attempt to end my life.
Caitlin quotes Romanian philosopher, Emil Cioran:
…this world can take everything from us…but no one has the power to keep us from wiping ourselves out.
Cioran believes that suicide is really the only right we TRULY have as humans. I would agree. While I believe in supporting people in not ending their lives, who am I decide for them if they should keep living?We should have suicide prevention programs and we need to accept that people will still end their lives because that is what they have decided to do. Many of you may hate some of the things I say on someone having the right to kill themselves. I believe this links back to our culture’s current fear of death and strong desire to avoid it at all costs. Death is bad to us, therefore, suicide, choosing to die, is unacceptable. We are supposed to always want to live.
My chronic suicidal thoughts and attempt have helped me not fear death. I don’t want to die and if I was dying I would be very sad because I want to keep going. I am, however, ok with dying eventually and knowing that people die. That’s life. I am not the person who wants to live forever. I want to live a full life, maybe be in my 90s, hopefully, and then die. I don’t have complete control over when or how I die and I will not let that stop me from living.
Aside from reflecting on how my suicidal thoughts and attempt have made me decently death positive (I still have a way to go) I also started thinking about what I would say to someone if I saw them in the process of trying to end their life. I imagine myself seeing that something is happening and telling them, “Hey, I have a feeling this moment is really hard for you, is that right? I had a similar moment years ago when I thought that dying was the only thing that was going to make life better. I survived and my life got better. I’d really like to talk to you. Would you like to grab a coffee?” Who knows if this would work and if it did not and I saw them die, I know that I would carry guilt and pain despite acknowledging people have the right to choose to live or die. On the other hand, if telling someone about my attempt makes them think about theirs and puts them on a different path then that would be amazing. Everyone deserves the opportnity to make the best life for themselves.
I am glad I had the opportunity to try again.
I did not know about this. Did any of you? Digital self harm/self-cyberbullying?
More Than Skin Deep posted an article yesterday about how to help teenagers who self harm. Within this article was information about the not so visible ways teens can engage in self harm (ie: binge drinking, unsafe sex) and digital self harm was listed and explained.
Quote from the article:
Digital self-harm or self-cyberbullying is when teenagers create alternative online identities for themselves on social media sites and post cruel comments about themselves. The alternative identities might also get cruel comments from other people. Teenagers might do this to test other people’s attitudes towards them or as a way of making personal pain feel ‘real’. –raisingchildren.net.au
Wanting to know more I did a Google search and came across an article about 14-year-old Hannah Smith who killed herself after receiving horrible and harassing messages via a social media, Ask.fm (this website allows you to create an account and then people ask you questions and you answer them and vice versa….strange but ok). What is interesting about this is that all but 4 of the messages were traced back to Hannah’s IP address. She was bullying herself.
I have been engaging in self harm for a little over 12 years. I have dabbled in a variety of different methods for various lengths of times, each providing me with something that I found beneficial. But digital self harm has me very confused; something I thought I would never hear about when it comes to self harm methods.
On one side, I’m thinking that the idea of bullying yourself is odd and how could you be offended by something you wrote yourself (keeping in mind I do understand the power of self hate) on your own social media profile. When I think about cyberbullying, I would assume the pain largely comes from the fact that your peers and strangers are harassing you. you get this whole “nobody cares about me” thing going on. In digital self harm, it is you, showing yourself that you do not care about you.
The other side of myself tells me that this makes total sense. You deal yourself hurtful blows and wait to be rescued or dragged deeper by others. You self sabotage and set yourself up because you don’t care. Your worth is then determined by the comments left by others. Are they encouraging you to hurt yourself or are they offering you support? This is self harm.
While I pondered digital self harm last night I realized that I did engage in something similar as a teen. MSN Instant Messenger was extremely popular at the time and while you could only instant message with people you added as a contact via their email sometimes the people you added were not nice people, even if you did consider them a friend. I was bullied a lot on MSN by “friends” and even went as far as to print out the conversations and keep them in a notebook so I could look back on them later. I would go onto MSN and set my name to something that I knew would get people’s attention (Last Resort by Papa Roach was a good source for this) and wait for the love or the hate to pour in. If neither appeared then it was just further confirmation that I was nothing. I would intentionally instigate friends I knew were mad at me by saying “hello” and then repeatedly asking them to talk with me, just so I could be rejected by them or put myself through the agony of apologizing to them. I did this to myself. I could have not spoken to people who were mad at me, I could have blocked those who were harassing me, I could have stopped having conversations that were degrading me, I could have not printed and kept those same conversations but I did. I wanted to be hated by others and know that I was hated because I hated myself. This still does not excuse the horrible things people said to me on MSN (for a real sample conversation click here) and how much they negatively impacted me.
Of course many of these are not limited to BPD and while many of them are negative I find some of them oddly funny.
I find it very difficult to talk about why I feel angry or sad sometimes. It is just something I feel and I feel it very strongly. I know when people are suicidal those who wish to help are wanting a good, concrete answer, “I want to die because I feel like no one loves me.” The person can then provide examples of how they are loved. When I was being asked a few months ago why I was suicidal all I could come up with was, “I feel wrong.” It’s a very helpless feeling for everyone involved. There are no ways to explain and I have actually found then when I try and find the words or reasons I end up making things up just to appease others and I get further away from my truth.
I’m so bad for this! I apologize for EVERYTHING! Even when I was a teen I would self harm because a friend was upset. I would become angry at myself for not being able to help them when it’s really not my issue but I took it on anyways. A recent example: My partner missed the exit off the highway and I began to feel bad and apologize because I felt that I should have warned him the exit was coming. Reality, it’s not a big deal to miss the exit, and he’s the driver so he should have been paying attention.
It’s a spinning vortex of rage. It fills you from head to toe. The rage vibrates your body, chokes you and completely shuts you down. It feels like someone else is behind the wheel in the brain. It’s truly a horrible experience. It makes me want to scream.
I notice everything. The problem is, I always interpret these changes in the worst way. I will obsess about these changes, wonder why they are happening, if I should ask about it, if I’m making a big deal about it and what I should do. This will then usually provoke a fight which can then confirm some of my fears because now I feel like I have evidence for them.
Go big or go home as I always say. If you’re going to feel something feel it all the way. It’s horrible and can sometimes by physically painful because of the stress that gets released into my body. It’s also severely annoying because I can tell myself that something is not a big deal but my body is still responding with such intensity that you would think my life was in danger when really my partner is just coming home later than I wanted him too.
This past June was the first time I was ever taken seriously and supported when I felt suicidal. I very much appreciated my friend who would text me to make sure I was ok while she was at work and busy with her own life and issues. I appreciated that she would tell my partner that I needed help when I couldn’t bring myself to tell him. I appreciated that her boyfriend, who lived near me, offered to come over while my partner was at work. I appreciated that my partner made himself available to me to talk, to cry and just gave me a lot of affection. If I had not had this support I do believe the outcome wouldn’t have been favourable.
I thank these 3 people from the bottom of my heart for what they did for me 🙂
I have noticed this trend for awhile. The trend of describing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as something we make others painfully experience and not as something we painfully make ourselves experience. I know that many of you not diagnosed with BPD will have experiences of others blaming you for the turmoil you cause in their lives but I’m specifically talking about the way mental health professionals and others who discuss BPD describe the disorder. Personality disorders in general appear to get this stigmatizing treatment of little emphasis on our personal suffering and great emphasis on the pain we cause others.
I was searching through Psychology Today yesterday came across a collection of articles entitled, “Is There a Borderline in Your Life?: Managing the Needy Borderline Next Door.” Compare that to the sites stories on:
I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a little hated.
Looking at the BPD articles themselves we’re then faced with titles and information about, Kings and Queens of Chaos, How to Diagnose an Unhealthy Relationship, The Perfect Storm in Borderlines, Colleag-emy #2: The Workplace Diva, The Roller Coaster Ride of Loving Someone with BPD (cute article though), The Benefits of Bad Relationships, and Big Time Liars: Top 7 Lies They Tell Themselves.
Many of these articles are not even written for people WITH BPD but for the people who need to “survive” them. The article, Kings and Queens of Chaos, opens with a little story of a woman who goes into a rage when her brother and his wife leave a wedding early to deal with the wife’s panic attack. That’s how readers first meet BPD in the article and I personally find that humiliating. The whole incident is just described as something her BPD makes her do because can’t do A. B. C. or D. Why is there no mention of the pain she must have been experiencing? Well, probably because her reaction is being seen as completely irrational therefore not worthy of analysis and deep understanding.
Now, some of these articles do briefly mention that people who experience BPD are in pain and provide quotes from individuals with the diagnosis but I still feel like it’s missing the compassion. People with BPD are still being told how we can fix ourselves for others instead of how others can help support us. The amount of articles I’ve seen articles that discuss how to support someone with depression and anxiety or what to say or not say and the amount is pretty overwhelming.
To wrap up I would like to call attention to the article “The Roller Coaster Ride of Loving Someone with BPD“. It is an extremely cute article that makes me want to cry.
It’s hard being in a relationship with someone who suffers from BPD. But it is nowhere near as hard as being the one with BPD. My girlfriend is not a burden, her BPD is. Our relationship is a molehill compared to the mountain of a struggle she has to go through to try to overcome her condition. – Paddy Vipond
Thank you Paddy, that is all I have ever wanted people to understand.