Two things really rocked me today. One is the suicide letter from Bill Zeller. The other is the shooting in Arizona.
First, Bill Zeller. I am not going to reprint the suicide letter here. He killed himself, and he left a 4000 —line note. He asked that people do not reprint excerpts, but he would like a wide range of people to read the letter. So, here is a link to the letter in full. I really recommend reading it.
Zeller wrote a lucid account of what happens to one's insides after sexual abuse. It's the best account I've ever read, actually. And, having my own history of sexual abuse , I can say that his feelings are very familiar to me.
Though I know the feelings are not normal, what I'm telling you is that there are a lot of people walking around with feelings like Zeller. I'm sure of it. One reason I know is that I just read research that the more children a woman has, the less likely she is to kill herself. Which means that people who kill themselves think they are not worthwhile and are not doing anything good for the world. And I completely understand that.
This is why I want to write. Because I've been in therapy for 35 years. Some days suicide seems so obviously the right choice that it's amazing to me that more people don't do it. I don't really understand why more people don't do it.
I read Zeller’s note and I think it's incredibly sad that he couldn't turn to someone for help. There is someone reading this post, right now, who feels hopeless. It's so hard to see our own lives clearly. Resumes are like that—each line is distorted because we distort our vision of ourselves. And just as professional can help us see our work history more clearly, a professional can help us see our personal history more clearly as well.
When things are going terribly, and you haven't been able to fix things, you need help. Everyone who cannot get a job should get career counseling. Because if you haven't gotten a job in a year, you probably need someone to help you change how you see yourself. And everyone who has been sad—depressed and can't fix it—should get help.
It is not reasonable to think that if you have been sad for more than a year that you can fix it yourself. It is not a shortcoming of yours. It's a part of being human that we are complicated and sometimes we get stuck.
People need help. Look at yourself. Ask yourself if you need help. Believe me. You are not a uniquely, an unsolvable problem. Most of us are not complicated to a therapist in the same way that most of us are not complicated to a professional resume writer. We are complicated only to ourselves. The more impossible your problems feel, the more you need someone to talk with about them.
Something I love about this blog is that you reflect me back to me in a more clear way. You call me names, you tell me when I'm too hard on myself, you tell me the obvious solution, and then you echo the obvious solution in the comments until I give in.
I am lucky. And I still need to go to therapy.
Andrew Sullivan is live-blogging the unfolding of the Arizona shooting and he notes, at one point, that psychologists who are watching videos of the gunman are fairly certain that he was having a psychotic episode. (Which means, of course, that this was not political. And, while I'm writing in parenthesis, Sullivan also notes that the intern who saved Congresswoman Giffords was Hispanic and gay and, until a week ago, could have been stopped randomly in Arizona and asked to prove his citizenship.)
The mental health system is broken. Few people have enough money to get good mental health care. And few dollars are spent to encourage people to use those expensive benefits. But we can help change that by spreading the word that going to therapy is a hard first-step, but it's life-saving.
So, I was thinking that in honor of Bill Zeller, and the killings in Arizona, everyone today could each post some encouragement to the person who feels stuck but is hesitant to get help.
The world gets darker and darker if you don't ask for help. Can you write, in the comments section, how you forced yourself to ask for help? Can you help someone else today?