Broken on the Inside

Warnings: Mentions of mental illness and suicide.

“I was broken from the inside. The depression slowly chipped me away, finally devouring me. I could not beat the negativity. I detested myself. Even though I tried so hard demanding my memories that kept getting cut off to ‘wake up,’ all I got in return was silence. I‘d rather stop if I cannot breathe.”
– Kim Jonghyun

Kim Jonghyun (April 8, 1990 – December 18, 2017) was the lead vocal of KPOP group SHINee, as well as a distinguished composer/song-writer. He was a supporter of mental health awareness and the LGBT community.

Note: The statistics mentioned above are specific to the United States only. However, this post strives to apply to a world-wide audience.

If facts like these are new to you, then you are stuck in a bubble of oblivion that you need to pop right now (however, I do not blame you; I blame the institutions you engage in). But there is one thing in common that should apply for all: suicide statistics are alarmingly high, yet when asked about suicide, we either  (1) do not know anyone personally that has committed suicide (2) feel as though we do not have responsibility/power to prevent suicide.

But look around you. Hidden behind the façade of smiles, of forced bliss, carrying out the same routine over and over, is the deep-rooted loneliness, balancing on the thin edge of life–one side is suffering, the other death, but oblivious to which is which. People (and surprisingly youth) are so good at hiding their pain. And sometimes the happiest people are suffering the most: “I wanted someone to notice [my suffering], but no one knew. Of course, they wouldn’t. They never met me before” (Jonghyun).

The most important step is to rid the stigma of mental illness.

In many countries, the concept of “mental illness” either does not exist, or exists with a negative/doubtful connotation. For example, in Mandarin, “mentally ill” translates to “有病” or “精神疾病,” however these phrases are closer to “insanity” or “psychosis.” Likewise, in South Korea, 1/6 experienced mental illness, but only 15% of those mentally ill look for aid due to a linkage between mental illness and failure. Even in the United States, oftentimes people with mental illnesses are perceived as weak and unproductive to society.

Mental illness is similar to what it sounds like: a group of illnesses that can be diagnosed, and has causes, symptoms and treatment plans. The fact that it is a diagnosed illness means that it is not an active decision to have mental illness, and a person’s strength/personality should never be blamed as a cause.

Symptoms

Mental Illness

These are only a few common mental illnesses (and people can also have multiple illnesses)

Clinical Depression:

  • Persistent depression for 2+ weeks
  • Sadness, anger, loneliness, suicidal thought, fatigue
  • Caused by heritage, stress, and trauma

Bipolar Disorder

  • Episodes of depression and mania
  • Caused by physical changes in brain, intense stress, and alcohol and drug abues

Schizophrenia

  • “Positive” symptoms: lose touch with reality, hallucinations
  • “Negative” symptoms: losing interest, depression
  • “Cognitive” symptoms: thought disorder, poor decision making
  • Caused by drugs, genetics, abuse, exposure to chemicals, and problems with neurotransmitters

Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder:

  • 2+ distinct personalities that “take control” of a person, each with their own set of memories/beliefs
  • Lack of self-identity, emotional detachment, flashbacks, amnesia, mood swings, depression
  • Caused by severe trauma, abuse, loss of loved ones, natural disasters, and accidents

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

  • Repeatedly thinking about and doing something
  • Germophobia, lucky/unlucky numbers, exactness, fear of forgetting something (hoarding), fear of harming others
  • Caused by problems with serotonin levels, stress, objects attached with fear, and family history

Suicide

  • Change in eating/sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Marked personality change
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Sudden period of calmness (because they know the suffering will end)
  • Abusing substances
  • Writing a will
  • Feeling guilt/shame
  • Feels trapped
  • Feels they are a burden to others
  • Aggression and recklessness

Approaching Someone who is Suicidal

1) Express your concern – make sure to phrase it in a way that shows how YOU have been noticing something different about THEM (i.e. put yourself in the driver’s seat). For example:

  • “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
  • “Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
  • “I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

2) Ask questions to get to know more about the situation –

  • “When did you begin feeling like this?”
  • “Have you thought about getting help?”

3) Ask directly about suicide –

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)

suicide

(View the website linked in the heading for more details)

And remember, a person who is suicidal does not truly want death. They want a way to end their pain and suffering, and they think that their last solution is death.

Hotlines:

USA:

International

Additionally, I’d like to share this resource that I found a few days ago:

The quiet place project – various sites to get rid of distractions, vent about your struggles/emotions, and finding a comfort spot amid all the chaos

if you go, cities will not fall. empires will not crumble, temples will not collapse. citadels will not catch fire; rome will not go up in blazing glory like the sky did on your birthday last july fourth, when you whispered make a wish! and i laughed at you—because who makes wishes on fireworks?—but secretly wished with all my heart for you to not be sad anymore. if you go, rain will not drench the world for forty days and forty nights like it does in the chick-flicks we stay up watching until 2 a.m., i never liked those, you know, but you do and i like you.

if you go, the earth will keep turning.

but.

if you go, the boy who sits across from you in math class will hear your name on the loudspeaker, and he’ll realize he won’t have anyone to help him on calc problems anymore but mostly he’ll wish that he’d talked to you about something other than integrals. if you go, your little sister won’t have anyone to compliment her drawings even though they’re masterpieces because she’s too shy to show them to anyone else. if you go, your big brother who claims he’s mature because he has a girlfriend will cry until he can’t breathe, and you won’t even be there to tease him about it.

if you go, i’ll miss the midnight texting sessions about nothing in particular, the shared peppermint lip gloss, the early morning trading of answers to chemistry problems we were supposed to do last night. i’ll miss sitting in the back row of the movie theaters and laughing until my ribs ache even though everybody turns around to glare at us. i’ll even miss listening to your staticky voice on the phone whispering help, i don’t think i can do this anymore; i’ll miss the rush of relief that comes when i hear you talk because at least that means you’re still here, you’re still hanging on.

if you go, nothing big will happen. no stars will explode. no sound, even, except the quiet breaking of all the hearts you left behind.

source: inkmagician; one of my favorite prose poems

Please share posts like these to your friends, family, etc because chances are, they may need it in the most unexpected times. It is important to raise awareness for issues that affect so many lives yet the public knows little about. 

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