Do you remember when I first told you about Holls?
Holls was my best friend when I was fifteen years old. Her real name was Holly, but everyone that she had considered to be a friend had called her Holls.
It’s been sixteen years since I had last seen Holls. She had a very infectious nature. She would make you laugh whenever she did something silly, whether it was intentional or not. And she could help you to see the most deepest meanings in the smallest things that you wouldn’t even consider looking deeper at as a teenager. Holls had a way about her that could make you laugh and cry at the same time. You would’nt know if you started laughing so hard that you were crying because of something funny she had said or did, or if you had started off crying because of a trick she may have played on you that scared you so badly that you ended up laughing at yourself in the end. That’s what Holly did. She made you feel special in every moment you spent with her…until the end.
Both of us had suffered from depression. We met while we were so called “troubled kids” during our group therapy meetings. We were child abuse survivors. The group therapy meetings taught us how to cope and heal from our past child abuse. Holls also had what is called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). At the time, I didn’t know what that was. I think that I used to get BPD confused with Bi-Polar disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder. Either way, I was wrong. Borderline Personality Disorder is classified as a mental illness that is followed by an an intense unstable personality and emotional disruptive patterns which causes instability in relationships, impulsivity, self image, and can cause one to self harm and make threats about committing suicide. A person suffering from BPD may even commit suicide, whether they were reaching out for help by admitting suicidal ideation, or not.
Now that I’ve learned more about mental illness and mental health, I’ve become more aware of the importance of discussing these issues. I speak out because families, friends, and loved ones of those who suffer from mental illnesses tend to not know how to help the ones that they love. I speak out to educate and provide hope for them and those who are suffering.
Since writing my novel Her, I’ve been able to speak out to raise awareness about child abuse, mental health, mental illness, and promote prevention. Raising awareness about child abuse, mental health, mental illness, and promoting prevention is positive! These may not be LIGHT subjects and some people may see them as taboo and something to censor. But when you have examples of successful survivors and thrivers with incredible stories of hope, love and inspiration that does help others, it IS POSITIVE. This is how we end the stigma! Speaking out is something that I will continue to do until it is no longer possible. And I hope that others will continue to speak out long after that time.
Often times, I’ve been asked, “How did she do it?” as in “How did Holly commit suicide?” If you’re someone who has lost someone that you love or care about to suicide, have you ever been asked this question? If so, how did it make you feel?
Honestly, I can tell you, that no matter who asks me this, I’ve always been taken aback. First, when my mother asked after I had found out, I was shocked. Then, when mutual friends of Holls’ and mine asked, and I didn’t really know if I should say that I even knew at the time how or why, just that it happened. When the therapists asked when they were trying to help, I felt confused as to why they would even ask that particular question. Even now, I’m still shocked when people that I meet in my campaign to raise awareness and promote prevention ask that specific question, “How did she do it?”. From radio hosts to other professionals who have asked, I am still taken aback each time someone has the audacity to ask.
To me, it is not offensive. I have considered several reasons why anyone would ask. One: out of curiosity. Two: genuine care and concern because people may think that “talking about the details” can be greatly therapeutic. Three: for reasons of their own that has nothing to do with me or Holly which could be entertainment or shock value, etc. I’m sure that there are other reasons, but these are the ones that I tend to wonder about when I am asked how did Holly commit suicide.
Every time I’m asked how did she commit suicide, I answer the same: She suffered with depression and BPD and she lost her battle with her mental illness. That is the best answer that I can give that will help people to understand why and how something like this could happen. It can happen to any of us who suffer from depression and who do not have the right support from our families, friends, and loved ones; the people who truly matter to us. The best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about these issues, do not ignore them, do not pretend that they do not exist, and do not try censor anyone who wants to speak out about their own experiences or others. This is the only way that we will end the stigma of mental illness!