This week is a little sad for me. Today I should have arrived in Washington, DC to support the efforts of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at the Annual Advocacy Forum… but I backed out of the trip a few months ago. I’m really having mixed feelings about that.
This year’s attendees were selected on an invite-only basis and I was absolutely honored that they thought enough of me to send me back to our nation’s capital to help promote the cause of suicide prevention. Last year’s experience was so amazing and meaningful; I was thrilled at the chance to do it again.
But when the time arrived to book my travel, I was going through another fiercely deep depression and was experiencing thoughts of suicidality and wasn’t sure I’d be up to the task. I decided that I wasn’t. A week before the deadline for scheduling my trip I emailed the local chapter’s director to let her know I was relinquishing my place to someone else. I was honest about my decision and let her know exactly what was going on with me because, after all, if you can’t be honest about it with the very organization trying to improve the state of mental health care and suicide prevention, who can you be? She was very kind and understanding and respectful and I appreciated her compassion a great deal.
I told her I again found myself in the middle of a deep depression and didn’t feel I would be successful at representing them to the fullest of my ability. I was struggling so hard to keep myself interested in any kind of future and I just needed to focus on taking care of myself for the time being. What I didn’t tell her, but maybe should have is that I also felt that attending would have made me a complete hypocrite. I was in a place where such a darkness had again come over me that I thought, why bother? If someone else was feeling what I was feeling at that time, and what you were feeling the last few months of your life, I wouldn’t blame them for making that choice, you know? Anyone who hasn’t been in that place just…. well, they just don’t know. I felt so terribly alone, Brian… I just wanted to be with you again and was envious that your struggle was over while I’m still stuck battling my own illness and the ever-returning flare ups. And yes, I’m well aware that I have a lot of people who care for me so much. I know their feelings are genuine and they mean it when they say, “Call me ANYTIME. I mean it.” But the thing is… I just rarely do call when I need to talk. I know that at times like that I am endlessly inconsolable and just an all-around drag on people’s energy so I don’t blame them for not answering when I call. I wouldn’t want to talk to me at those times, either. It’s got to be really exhausting being my friend at those times… so I get it.
I’m doing so much better now so I guess that’s where my mixed feelings about the Advocacy Forum are coming from– while part of me is regretting having let my spot go to someone else because I let a great opportunity slip through my hands, a much larger part of me knows that I made the right choice.
I’ve already begun to see pictures and status updates in my Facebook feed about the forum as they’ve all arrived and will begin their work on Capitol Hill tomorrow. I’m envious of what they will be experiencing over the next few days but I know the person who replaced me will be a far better advocate for the cause than I am capable of being right now. Please send some positive energy to those who made the trip to DC to speak to our nation’s lawmakers on my behalf and on behalf of anyone who has ever lost a loved one to suicide. I’m so grateful that they are able to advocate for those of us who aren’t strong enough to do so.
Anyhoooo. I found a penny again today… thank you. I love the little reminders that you’re still looking out for me.