“Your Life Is Perfect, So Why Aren’t You Happy?”

[In honor of Suicide Awareness Week]

If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK); there is also the Lifeline Crisis Chat online at http://www.crisischat.org/ . Your life has value. You are worth saving.

Polly Pecan drives to school in an air-conditioned, music-playing vehicle paid for by Daddy Pecan; the gas inside of it is also paid for by her Daddy, and the tuition for the school it is driving to is paid for by scholarships. Polly Pecan got those scholarships because school is pretty easy for her; her brain drinks up words of all varieties and spills them back out just as easily, and when she does need assistance, she has the Internet and all of its knowledge at all times thanks to a $800 laptop (with another $200 worth of repairs on it) and a $200 smartphone (with such a good camera quality that it took the image that heads this post), and she has Daddy’s money to buy reference books and practice guides. 

Polly Pecan probably could work if she wanted to, but no one is pressuring her to at the moment: in fact, Daddy Pecan would rather that she just focus on her schoolwork, which is very manageable for Polly Pecan since she doesn’t have many other obligations to detract from it.

Polly Pecan enters her dorm room, which is mostly paid for by scholarships (the rest by Daddy Pecan), and opens her mini fridge. It is stocked with organic fruits and veggies, and, now, a glassware container full of delicious soup that Daddy Pecan and Stepmommy Pecan cooked for her.

Polly Pecan turns on her phone to text her boyfriend that gives her gentle kisses and tight hugs and expensive dark chocolates and who seems almost literally incapable of being frustrated with her. She sees a text message from her friend in one of the campus organizations that they manage together–the friend and the other execs pick up a lot of the slack, but they always seem grateful for what Polly Pecan does do for the club.

All is well for Polly Pecan.

But that doesn’t stop Polly Pecan from sobbing to herself when no one is watching and wondering how to go about ending her life in her minuscule dormitory palace–use the knife in the pantry, or hang herself with a belt?

That doesn’t stop Polly Pecan from counting herself a failure with every awkward glance shot in her direction , every social cue not recognized in time, every organization plan pushed back or not followed through, every mark below a 90, every homework assignment delayed (not even late–just not done as swiftly as she would have liked of herself)…

See, Polly Pecan is haunted by memories.

If you laid out all of Polly Pecan’s memories, the vast majority of them would be very pleasant. There would be memories of playing in the sun and laughing so hard she runs out of breath and love from so many directions.

But among the sea of beautiful occurrences, there are a few dark ones that hurt. Like the very, very few times that a family member said something harsh, something so harsh that it made Polly Pecan feel like she was a burden to those around her and that she brought pain to those she cares about. There are long-term friends turning their back. There’s her mother being dragged away in handcuffs. There’s a casket with a girl of eight years old laying inside it, a girl that was one of Polly Pecan’s closest friends.

And she is haunted even more so by insecurities.

See, nearly everyone in Polly Pecan’s life believes in her. Her parents are convinced that she’ll be the next great American author. Her siblings consider her a genius, her extended family members even more so. Her professors tell her that she’d excel in a graduate program. Her peers eagerly tell her to remember them “when she becomes famous.” Her boyfriend  frequently calls her “perfect” and has no doubt that she’ll succeed in anything she does. Even the psychologists who sat in front of her and told her that she was probably on the autism spectrum did so in the context of “but you’re so bright!” and “but you really are gifted!” and “but I know that you’re going to accomplish great things!”

But Polly Pecan doesn’t believe in herself.

Polly Pecan knows that she’s “smart,” at least in the sense measured by exams and essays.

Polly Pecan worries that she is not “useful” in the real world, that she is too nervous, too awkward, too easily drained, too sensitive, too narrowly focused, too bland, too abrasive, and just…not enough.

Polly Pecan hates that she hasn’t gotten off her ass and found a part-time job during college so that Daddy Pecan, 70 years old and weary with work, wouldn’t have to work so hard (well, Polly Pecan does enter writing contests occasionally, and every once in a blue moon, she’ll come out with cash. Polly Pecan made a blog with the intention of monetizing it; it’s not quite ready for that, but she hopes it’ll get there someday).

Polly Pecan looks back at a long time of friendships lost–most of them lost by her own social incompetence–and looks forward at her peers. many of whom she finds interesting and pleasant (and who probably find her the same!) but who she doesn’t want to inconvenience or annoy, so she sits at the desks in the back of the class, some distance from where they gather, and she smiles and waves at people in the hallway but never takes it any further than that.

Polly Pecan really has no reason to complain. On paper, she has more than even the greediest of people would have the audacity to hope for.

But then fear and sadness and suicidal ideation don’t care one iota about “reason.” Because pain isn’t mutually exclusive with blessings.

Because mental illness is real.

Because even if a person doesn’t have a diagnosable mental illness, pain is real and feelings are real and even the best lives can be really tough sometimes.

The good in one’s life (and there is so, so, SO much good in Polly Pecan’s life that she sometimes wonders for a moment if she is a protagonist in a work of fiction) doesn’t make the unpleasant things feel any less unpleasant.

Pain hurts, even in a sea of beauty.

Sometimes, the pain hurts so bad, even as the good things glimmer so gallantly, that her brain tells her that she should die so that she won’t have to feel it anymore. Sometimes, every breath is torture, every heartbeat is agony, every thought is another stab, and she wishes it all away.

But Polly Pecan keeps living, no matter what her tormentor Suicide Urges (let’s call it “Surge” for short) tells her.

Surge tells her that she’s a financial and psychological burden on her family and that they would have it so much easier when she’s gone.

Poly Pecan #KeptLiving because there’s a part of her that knows that her family needs everything that she is more than they are burdened by everything she lacks. 

Surge tells her that the people around her are sick of having to “put up” with her and that she’ll never really feel like she belongs here among her fellow humans.

Polly Pecan #KeptLiving because she knows that she has, or will one day have, something of value to share with them,and that, even if she feels out of place with most people, there are those whose “place” would feel so much emptier and sadder without her in it. 

Surge tells her that she’ll never be successful because she isn’t a strong enough person for this world and that she should just speed up what natural selection would have done eons ago.

Polly Pecan #KeptLiving because she wants to show the world that there is more than one way to be strong and that “success” can present itself in many different ways, ways that are all valid and worthy of celebration. 

Surge tells her that if she’s not happy now with this many blessings in her life, she’s incapable of being truly happy and that she will suffer in agony for the next six-to-eight decades if she doesn’t cut it short.

Polly Pecan #KeptLiving because with six-to-eight decades to go, there’s bound to be a chance that she’ll do something to make those around her happy eventually, and if that happens, then, well, she’ll be happy enough. 

I’m Polly Pecan, and #IKeptLiving because life is worth it and I am worth it.

And I will fight to keep living.

And I hope that you will fight alongside me, because there is so much beauty and joy and the world, and a lot of it is you.

If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK); there is also the Lifeline Crisis Chat online at http://www.crisischat.org/ . Your life has value. You are worth saving.

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