Lyse Links: Mental Health Edition


Today I want to share some of the most powerful readings I’ve come across about mental health. The more I’ve read and talked to people, the more I’ve realized the frequency and severity of the mental health difficulties plaguing many of the people I know and love. Those same problems are probably affecting the people¬†you¬†know and love. Talking about and better understanding mental health heals us all.

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“Thinking of suicide is a sign of a medical emergency.” Continue reading

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30/30: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock


Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Matthew Quick
YA
Trigger Warnings: Suicide/Depression

Summary

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was–that I couldn’t stick around–and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even.

But not today.

Continue reading

Second Thoughts


I can’t seem to shake the thoughts of death this week. For one thing, I just finished reading Allegiant. No spoilers, but yeah….death. All I’m saying. More seriously than that, I heard news this week of a boy who committed suicide. I don’t know him. I don’t know his family. They are friends of a friend of a friend. But I still feel bad for them. They are reeling right now….I cannot begin to imagine their pain.

And I wonder about the boy. He wasn’t much younger than I am, actually. He ran his car off a cliff. It was an instant death. But I wonder. In the moment after he made that choice, the moment when he couldn’t stop it, did he regret it? Did he have one panicked moment of clarity?

I have been tempted before…experienced brief moments of insane desire to jump in front of a car, run my car off a bridge, jump off a cliff. Obviously, I never have…..but it scares me. If I obeyed that split-second urge, I could never change that choice. Death is terrifyingly permanent. Maybe that’s why people do drugs…is it just a less permanent option than death?

I know that I would regret it. I know that I do not ever want to kill myself. But it scares me that for one moment, I might want it enough to make an unchangeable choice. I grieve for this boy’s family….I grieve for him, the moment he felt like he had to make that choice.

A Death-Tinged Fall


Literature intersects life at all points. This semester, my literature class talks about death. A lot. I don’t know that it’s necessarily my teacher’s intention…it just happens. For example, studying Keats is almost impossible to accomplish without discussing death. Today, we read and discussed “Ode to Autumn.” Autumn is a predecessor of winter, which is symbolic of death. Keats talks about sunsets too, classic symbols of death. Is that morbid? Not really. The entire point of the poem is that we don’t have to be scared of death. Also, death doesn’t have to overshadow beauty.

Why does all this talk of death matter to me? It matters because it doesn’t. At one point, dealing with death would have resonated deeply within me. It would have touched the cord my whole being was wrapped around. Now it matters because I understand all of Keats’ concerns about dying young, but because I am distant from them. I almost always associate death with depression. Regardless of the dying person and situation, someone is depressed (in most cases). And depression is something I understand. For a significant portion of my high school years, I struggled with depression. Not always at the same level – sometimes not so bad, other times much, much worse – but always present, weighing my every thought and action. Eventually it went away. I don’t have a spectacular story about a person or event or miraculously snapping out of it. Just slowly but surely, the depression disappeared. I still remember though. The overwhelming sense of drowning. The intense desire just to lay down and never, ever wake up. The complete lack of hope. The feeling of perpetual exhaustion…

If anything is a problem in college, it’s exhaustion. I try to use my time wisely and get enough rest. I try not to stay up all night studying. But it still happens. Some days, I remember what depression feels like. I taste the hopelessness, the complete apathy, the impossibility of mustering any energy. I am the lucky one. I know it will pass. I will sleep, pass that test, finish that project. I will wake up in the morning back to normal. But I know that so many around me will not. They are not just exhausted. They are drowning, lost in a world of grey apathy. Sleeping for hours won’t solve their problem. And that makes me so sad. It is a helpless thing, watching someone else in depression. Having no control whatsoever to pull them out…it makes my heart break.

Statistically, there are probably at least one or two people in my literature class suffering from depression. Likely several more of you read my blog. I don’t have an answer for you. I can’t tell you how to change that or how to cope. I will say this: there are people here for you. People understand. And please, please, no matter how attractive it seems, don’t make death the answer. Death has its place…but it is not the solution for depression. Read Keats. May your fall be full of beauty, even under the shadow of death.

All the World a Story


Do you ever have the feeling that your life might just be one long story? Do you ever wish it was? These questions tend to haunt me…I see in my own life the ups and downs, conflicts and resolutions of the many, many stories I have read. My wish is always for that happy ending, the quick and painless conclusion to my confusion. But I’m just a character, not the reader. For me the resolution may take days or years, not the few hours it would take to simply read about it. Admittedly, this leaves me often frustrated and discouraged, stuck on the slow path, unable to see the plot map of my own story. This has been one of those weeks.

For those of you who struggle with the same feelings, let me share the insight that carries me through. Ultimately, I do know that there is a happy ending. I also know the Author of my story. While I may not be able to see the plot map, He can and His resolution is better than any I could dream up myself. I am not just a character. I am a character that He loves and for whom He is writing a wonderful, beautiful story.

For now, I carry on day by day, page by page, with the belief that there is a happy ending and that any current conflicts are necessary for the plot and for my own development.

On a calm summer night


I ran across a poem at work the other day. My job involves a lot of copyediting, so I frequently browse the text without really reading it. This caught my attention though.

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
Take a minute and let that sink in. I have never personally attempted suicide, but I know people who have, and I have considered it before. The people who are depressed are often perfectly normal looking. They will likely not tell you verbally that they are depressed or that they think life might not be worth it. You have to search it out….be there for them. Give them a reason to live. Please, next time you see someone who seems down, even in the slightest, don’t ignore it. Sometimes the most miserable people are the ones who are super friendly and look like they have it all together. If you ever see a flash of misery or an unguarded moment when they look depressed, notice it. They may be struggling. Suicide isn’t something you ignore. Take it seriously. You could save someone’s life.