Removing the Mask

“Our social sciences demonstrate that suicide causes more suicide, both among those who knew the person and among the strangers who somehow identify with the victim. If suicide has a pernicious influence on others, then staying alive has the opposite influence: it helps keep people alive. By staying alive, we are contributing something precious to the world.”

Jennifer Michael Hecht

After these last six months, I realized that I am not okay. However, if you met me out on the street, you’d think I was perfectly fine and that nothing was wrong. I guess like a lot of people I’ve been wearing a mask. I trudge along as if everything is okay. I have not suffered from the kind of despair where I was seriously considering suicide.  But I have been wrestling with dark times and have been hurting in a way where I can understand where suicide victims are coming from when they make that fatal decision. That sorrow and inner pain is very real.

Recently, I read a book by Jennifer Michael Hecht, called Stay. It discusses suicide and its history. Her introduction in the book struck me. In an extremely personal manner, she writes about two separate incidents of suicide from girls she knew in graduate school.  They committed suicide a few years apart from one another. They were bright, talented, and seemingly happy. When her husband bumped into one of them, she seemed cheerful. Hecht and many other people did not pick up on anything being wrong, even in the slightest. It made their suicides even more shocking and disturbing. But this isn’t the first I’ve heard of this.

Most family members or friends often report that they never saw it coming. I realized how true this is due to the mask that I put on.  I think I’ve done it in an attempt to avoid conversations about what’s wrong. Often times, when we confide to a well-meaning source it does further damage…

For a long time, a bad energy surrounded me. Right now I’m free from that imposing negativity, that person, to be specific. But the results of all those years are what I’m reeling from now. Maybe that’s what this breakdown within myself has really been about. It is a realization that I’m finally free from that harm. I got used to it because I dealt with it for so long.  But now it’s time to remove the mask and look ahead.