We live in a college town, and in the last week, two of the 12,000 students who attend our university, have died by suicide. Two.
And there just aren’t words to describe how it feels to know that. As a human, it’s so heartbreaking to know that someone else felt that alone. As a mom, it’s gut-wrenching to think that someone’s baby felt so awful and isolated and that it couldn’t be fixed. As a person who’s struggled with depression, it weighs heavily on me to think that two hearts couldn’t escape the dark.
I don’t know these boys’ situation. Not a bit of it, other than that they were freshmen in school here. I don’t know their hearts, their minds, their life stories, their good times or their bad.
But I do know what it feels like to hurt.
I do know what it feels like to believe that no one will understand.
We talk a lot on Heart about putting your happiness in your hands—being responsible for it and choosing to find joy, but I want to be abundantly clear when I say now that the type of sadness these hearts were feeling isn’t something that can be turned around in just one day, or by a quote seen on Pinterest. Sadness is isolating and I will not, I WILL NOT, discount that truth. It is truer than true and it sucks.
Why must we feel isolated when our skies are dark and stormy? Why should we pretend that piles of laundry are our biggest problems? Sure laundry is awful. I may even refer to it as my nemesis. But sharing twelve heaping hampers as a “real” look at our lives will never come close to the truth of our core. Unfolded socks are not keeping it 100 percent real. It’s more like 75. There is more to you than your small failures. There is more on your heart than worries about dinner or even whether you’ve given the kids too much sugar in a day. There is more inside there. You know it and so do I. And yet, we continue to operate as if everything is totally fine.
Maybe that’s what we have to do. If we dwell on our struggles, maybe we’ll never emerge from a dark cloud to do what has to be done. But in touting ourselves as put-together and problem-free, we might even be adding to the isolation others feel when their “real” is so much darker than everyone else’s seems to be.
I’m not saying that you have to shout from the rooftops your every woe. I’m not even suggesting that you take to social media to spill every secret you’ve ever kept. But I am saying that if a few more people were to acknowledge that we all struggle, sometimes on a much deeper level than having eaten too many carbs, maybe we’d be bringing someone else into the fold and letting them know that it’s OK. Maybe, by saying something, we’re wrapping our arms around another person without even knowing it.
You don’t have to tell everyone you meet what you’re afraid of or what your heart aches for, but I would urge you to tell someone. Just say something.
I guarantee you aren’t the only one who hurts sometimes. I know it doesn’t always feel like that, please know that truly I do. But it feels that way because we keep quiet. No one said you had to have it all together. It’s not written in any book nor was it uttered by any holy deity. It’s OK to admit that your days are sometimes hard. It’s OK to say something.
I don't know what to make of this tragedy. I'm not sure what could have been done nor do I claim to have all the answers as to what should be done going forward, but I refuse to believe that this is the way things have to be. I refuse to subscribe to the idea that we'll all just continue on, operating in farce because we're too afraid of what others will think if we speak the truth. I hate the idea of a world where people feel alone and as if it's not OK to speak when troubles come. Let's make it OK to tell someone when there's something that needs to be told. We won't always know what to say, we won't always have a good solution or an answer, and sometimes, the problems won't feel fixable, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth sharing. Say. Something.