Today for every tweet including the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate five cents to mental health initiatives in Canada. Campaigns like this are not something I usually pay attention to. A ploy for good publicity. So I retweet out of obligation and promptly forget to care about it ever again.
This time I got caught up, I started reading some of the words people shared on Twitter. The admissions, the encouragement, the profound. And one stopped me cold.
"Sad people appear sad. Depressed people appear happy. Never assume anything."
For those who didn't understand what my last post was about, let me elaborate:
Eight weeks ago today, one of my closest friends committed suicide.
As I often told her, she was the sunshine of my life. Sierra was my light. She made my heart sing. I felt better when I was around her, I felt... silly. Lighter.
I knew she had been having a hard time. I wasn't completely ignorant. I knew she was struggling.
And still I let things slide. I tried to cheer her up with things that had always worked in the past. I made plans for the future because we always said that having something to look forward to made winter easier. We made plans for her to come spend Christmas with my family and I. Gingerbread houses, much food and liquor, and as many Christmas movies as we could handle. It was keeping me together... and I thought it was keeping her together too.
But these things didn't work like they had in the past, she wasn't sad... she was depressed. And I failed to make the distinction. She needed help that I couldn't give her. And on the nights when my guilt is so overwhelming that I can't shut my eyes without envisioning her end I tell myself this: I couldn't save her. She needed unbiased professional help.
She never got that help. We didn't get to spend Christmas together making gingerbread and eggnog. Instead I spent that time flying home to bring her father his youngest daughter in a box.
I remember a mutual friend saying "she must have been the best fucking actress in the world, I believed her when she said she was okay." Depression is invisible. No one can know the depth of someone else's pain. Sierra used to always say that if everyone put their problems and worries into a pile, you'd be scrambling to get yours back. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
So here's what happens now. We talk about it. We pry and push and we prevent. We ask our friends and family if they're okay (and not passively). We push them to get help when they need it. And we do everything possible to prevent an irreversible end.
They might be mad that you meddled, or they might be grateful. But they'll be alive. And that's what matters.
In the past five weeks I've wanted to write a thousand different blog posts in a thousand different ways. Words, pictures, stories, and videos - I wanted it out there. I wanted the people who love me, the people who loved her, to know how I felt. For them to know that what they feel isn't an anomaly, that we're all floating in this desolate ocean together.
But I didn't. I was initially the champion of keeping this story offline, off the Facebook walls of people who didn't really know anything. Who didn't really know her. And that will remain as such. I can't catalogue those first few days for anyone but myself. I relive them every hour of every day in my head and that is enough - I don't need to see that story on the page in front of me.
However, there are words that need to be said. For the friends who live far, for the ones who live near but are really just as far away. For the people who have been through what we've been through, and for those we don't know who will sadly endure the same twisted fate we face. And for me. I need to say some things for me.
But today I am going to give you some songs because I'm still not sure what to share, how far to go.
In the week that followed my return to this city, Robyn sent me the most essential of mixed CDs. If you are a friend, or an avid reader of this blog, you will know that this is a special exchange we've done for years. But this playlist was unlike any other. This one was made to soothe my grief, to abate the confusion and anger that have confiscated my soul.
There's no right thing to say in this situation. There is no proper response that will even come close. So Robyn imparted music and lyrics to comfort me, each one a wish, an explanation, a mantra for the weakened.
The first time I listened to it I was alone in my car. Driving around and around this city crying like I had lost my best friend. And it hit me... I had lost my best friend. And though my grief overwhelmed, each song a truth I didn't want to face, by the end I felt just the smallest of fractions better. It wasn't a cure, but it was a break from all the guilt and hate.
So I'm offering these songs up to the people I love, to the people holding fast to the pain that will eat them from the inside out. Fight it. Please. Just try. And though these songs were wishes and prayers from Robyn's heart to mine, I offer you the same. This is the comfort I have for you, I hope they calm you. I hope they help you in any possible way and allow for the tiniest of lights to enter your world again.
(Playlist of all songs can be found here)
Whenever I leave this island I am reminded that we don't really get blue skies here. Not really.
If you hadn't heard, I hopped on a flight (or three) and took off for Sweden (and Iceland - but that's a different post) for most of August. Waiting on the other side was Ms. Amkiram and a whole lot of adventuring.
I will never be able to describe the details of this trip in full to anyone. And that's okay. Just know it was magical and perfect and totally unreal to me. I would not have changed a single thing about that trip (okay, maybe skipping the subway induced nausea would have been nice).
Growing up I'm realizing more and more how rare these moments and experiences are. I got to spend weeks with a friend gallivanting about Stockholm and Reykjavik like money and time were infinite. I got to press pause on reality and just do things because they felt good. For that small period of time it was just Amki and I. And it was so amazing I could cry.
I saw hundreds of mesmerizing things, accomplished a major lifetime goal, spent countless hours with the Swedish princess, tasted a dozen new foods, walked across cobblestone streets and geyser fields, took a thousand pictures, had seven and a half epiphanies, won 5lbs of M&Ms, and wore out one pair of Toms.
Thank you, Amkiram, for being the best host and friend a girl could ever ask for on her first European adventure. Let's never grow up, okay?
This was the night Lenore arrived for a visit, and oh what a night. Maybe only Daniel can attest to my nerves and excitement (with the video Gerard shot as evidence). I was shaking and gasping for breath as we waited at the bottom of the airport's departure stairs. We knew she was wearing a dress and every pair of bare legs we saw descending down the steps had us gripping one another in glee.
It was a visit I needed, one I relished in. I spent time with Ms. Lenore every single day she was here and it just wasn't enough. Maybe no amount of time could be enough knowing she lives so far away.
It's something I have to get used to, my friends scattering far and wide. The coming year is going to bring so many changes, not all of them I welcome. But I know they need to happen.
I keep waiting for the plateau, the lull in the storm. But life keeps happening all around, wreaking havoc with my control issues.
Have to grow up sometime I guess, but I'll always ache for the parties where lampshades are hats and blanket forts are the cool thing to do.