Taboo

The Death of the Mental Health and Suicide Stigma
The word TABOO as an adjective is defined as “prohibited or restricted by social custom.”
Many things in life and society have been taboo…if you have lived any length of time you can insert something into the blank in the following sentence “We can’t talk about _______________.” Today, less and less things are considered taboo but there is still one thing that I believe we just haven’t “gotten there” on yet, and that is mental health, and specifically suicide.
Several months ago, I posted an extremely real and raw post on Social Media (which can be read here: https://www.facebook.com/trey.mcguire.52/posts/10156026678943182.) In it, I had one intent…awareness of the fact that many real people have suicidal thoughts and even actions.

“One fateful night, my beautiful, patient, loving, awesome bride wakes up to find me in our extra bedroom, sitting there with my loaded 12 gauge shotgun in my lap…ready to just end it all. Had she not walked in the door, I don’t know what would have happened.” -Trey McGuire

Let me start off with what I DO NOT want so that we can get to what we DO:
I do not believe that we need to glorify or exploit this topic in any way. We do, however, need to have a serious conversation about it. We talk at suicide, we train people how to spot the signs, we tell friends to call us when they are thinking about suicide, we make people promise us that they won’t harm themselves, we know all too well that the reality of suicidal thoughts and tendencies exists, and unfortunately, we have probably all experienced someone we know making that fateful decision. Yet, somehow, we still feel as if we can’t stand up and voice the fact that we have fought that demon. We feel as if our mental health is a fight that must be had in private and can not be talked about, cause what if someone finds out I’m seeing a counselor? Well, to that, I say “good”. That person who found out you are seeing a counselor probably has some undealt with trauma in their own life that could use the services of a counselor. No, my intent here is not to normalize mental health issues, rather, it is to normalize mental health HEALING! Let me draw a comparison with a current hot topic debate:
Abortion – Many do not believe that unborn babies should have their lives ended. Yet, MANY yell and scream for abortion to be illegal, all the while, we offer zero assistance to  that 15 year old girl who has no clue how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. We point out what we are against, yet make no mention of what we are for. While also offering zero resources for those struggling with that reality.

We at The Warrior Network are for killing one thing, the taboo nature that is the stigma of mental health and suicidal thoughts/actions. I know that suicide is much more complex than that, but as the old saying goes, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Only after we create a culture where we are not demonized or judged or excommunicated or threatened for talking about the fact that something in our heart or head is not feeling up to par…ONLY THEN will we be able to interject the truth to replace the lies that we are believing. We all struggle with believing lies…lies of hopelessness, lies that say we have no value, the lie that we are alone, the lie that we are beyond help, the lie that we will lose our career, the lie that we have messed up too bad, the lie that no one cares, the lie that says no one understands how I feel, the lie that it would be better if I wasn’t here, the lie that says we are nothing more than some tiny cog on a huge wheel that is our job, rank, social status, etc., and the list goes on. Again, all LIES…made possible partly from the fact that real people have not stood up and said “I have been there.”

WHAT WE DO WANT:

  • CULTURE CHANGE: Simply, we want you to be able to talk about it because it is such a real thing.
  • HONESTY: We want you to know that we have been there (see link to my story above).
  • INFLUENCE: If you have been there, part of healing is to be able to take what has happened and use it to make a difference in other’s lives. In other words, being open about the fact that you have been there is YOUR greatest tool to relate to someone who may be struggling.
  • ACTION: Stop talking AT the problem and start talking to the person.
NO MORE vague Facebook posts pushing Suicide Prevention Hotlines…
NO MORE “Call me if you need me” that only make the one saying it feel better.
NO MORE Suicide Awareness Trainings (cause we are great at training people how to hide their struggles as we train them with what to look for in others)
NO MORE 72 hour stays in a hospital (followed by the awkward “I have no idea what to do now” feelings.)

WHILE GOOD, WHAT IS BEST?
Best is you, me, us, together, while broken, finding healing. Best is creating a culture where healing from the traumas of life is celebrated just like healing from the cancer diagnosis. While we seek out medical treatment for physical health issues, most of the time celebrated and surrounded by family and friends…the journey of seeking out help for our mental healing is lonely, isolated, taboo, and the mountain just looks too big to even begin to cross.  Best is knowing that when someone opens up about their mental struggles, while they may be met with tools and resources that will help them along the way such as hospitals and counseling, they will also be met with that warm hug, that warm body of a friend who is there no matter what, maybe even has been where they are, who puts their arm around them and leads them along the path of healing. That real person who legitimately gives a crap about me, in my opinion, is the greatest replacement to the lies of isolation, aloneness, fear, judgement, and hopelessness that we defined earlier. We must fight for each other, we must fight for healing…why? Because we are not alone. We are more than rank, more than job, more than career, more than failures, more than our past…you are you, and you matter. That struggle that is pushing you toward considering ending it all can be the greatest God-given tool that you have to change someones life, WE just have to heal from it, together. Will this fix everything today?  No. But, again, how do you eat an elephant?

The culture of healing begins now…May suicide be taboo no longer.

I have been there…
-Trey

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