Plea, inspired by the awful loss of Ms Dawson

Added on by Leah Robertson.

Trigger warning - if you'd prefer not to read about depression and its potential consequence, please close the tab. And take good care of yourself. If you got no-one to talk to, email me.

Have barely been able to stop shaking since the news of Charlotte Dawson’s tragic passing. Not because I knew her and am grieving, but because I’m so angry and so afraid. The fear is there because I’ve faced this same decision multiple times over the past few weeks alone. I don’t want to die, but man is it a battle to stay alive. I need constantly to be buttressed and reminded why I should. Public deaths like these, to the suicidal, feel like the removal of one more safety barrier. If she couldn’t find the answer, what hope will I have?

And angry because: she, someone so vocal and so adamant that depression and mental illness need to be discussed and de-stigmatised, is only properly being granted this after death. How many times must we cry out, attempt suicide, openly share accounts of unendurable pain before we as a society go, “yeah, that sounds pretty fucking awful, let’s stop being so lackadaisical about it.”

I am angry at trolls and I am angry at this disease, but the thing I am most angry about is the fact that I (that WE) didn’t, say, picket Chic Models’ offices when they dropped Dawson from their books specifically for sharing her account; for being ill in public. I am angry that this did not cause the outrage it should have. I am angry at how the immediate social media responses to Dawson’s death focused so heavily on the importance of speaking out and asking for help - something she did over and over again - rather than asking what we as a society could have done to try to prevent this death and others like it. Speaking out and asking for help is essential and you should do it, you must do it, if you are suffering an illness like this. But if we’re going to make that public leap, people need to hold the safety net.

This is hard to write about, but I am personally angry and indelibly hurt at how some of my own loved ones have added to my own already intolerable pain - through ignorance or fear or selfishness - by responding to my pleas for help in horrible or offensively negligent ways. These are such terrible blows - these instances have pushed me closer to the edge than anything else. In the same breath, I am incredibly grateful to those I know - loved ones, work associates - who have taken the time to learn and to try to understand the ways somebody this ill can be helped, and who have done so.

As for the discussion surrounding the reporting and openness of dialogue surrounding suicides, I can say that seeing the word in print/on screen is enough to send waves of pain through my body, to change the course of my day, to make me consider it in a moment when I was perhaps not. Articles like this are clearly well intentioned, but should be aimed at the disease rather than its terrifying potential outcome.

There are a few issues at play above (I am not in a good place and neither is my writing), but ultimately I am saying that we should not wait until it’s too late to talk about and act on this. Charlotte spoke openly, I have spoken openly. Help us.