Part of it is Facebook. This was the first “I’m thinking about suicide” post that I put on Facebook, so some of this kindness comes from people I’ve not seen in decades—junior high school friends, relatives, etc. They don’t know that, while serious, this is a side of the illness that comes around every few years.
Part of it is the word. Suicide. It brings out the panic in people. It ignites folks like other incendiary words—God, Abortion, Trump. And fire requires action.
Part of it is that kind people need to do something to help. And they’re used to sicknesses that get better. A little chicken soup, a little gift, and the icky stuff goes away. They don’t understand that I’m always sick—more or less—no matter how sane I sound or look. It’s a matter of degree. A little chicken soup-kindness everyday would be lovely.
It’s been difficult—teaching about mental illness, resetting my boundaries, and reaffirming what I really need—at a time when I want to punch most people in the face. This is not how one thanks everyone for kindness and thoughtfulness.
I isolate when I’m “unwell,” but this is something more. I can’t seem to navigate the niceties of social interaction. I can’t pretend to listen to other folks’ three-ring shit shows (and I normally do a grand job at that). I can’t tolerate the nattering of voices or the pressure (albeit internal) of protecting others from my illness. I’m scary at present. And mean.
The last thing I want to do is hurt kindhearted folk. It’s one of my nightmares—shoving away everyone who loves me with this illness. It’s such a huge disconnect—hanging on every kind word and pushing away the people who speak them.
All I can say is Thank You and I’m Sorry. Don’t stop asking questions—not about what you can do for me, but about the illness. I am a font of knowledge on mental illness and if you need to understand, I’m your gal. That’s one interaction that won’t get you punched in the face.