it's gonna get better

This post deals with mental health, especially themes about suicide. If you're not feeling up to it, save this for later. If you're in need of help, call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

This month is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and hundreds of companies and organizations are rallying together to help educate, prevent, and one day eliminate suicide. Many of these organizations focus on mental health as a whole, which is a good way to hopefully prevent people from getting to the point where they feel like suicide is the only way out.

As a mental health community and company, mental health is pretty darn important to us. NAMI has an awesome breakdown of all kinds of statistics, which you can find here, but the big takeaways are that: 1. Mental health is just as important as any other aspect of a person's health, 2. We're not doing enough to treat "the whole person" and we don't treat mental health issues the same as other health issues, 3. Rates of diagnoses are increasing every year even as awareness and treatment options expand, and 4. We're not doing a very good job of taking care of ourselves.

Number four may not make a lot of sense, so let me explain:

"Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year."
"Just over half (50.6%) of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year."

These stats aren't very encouraging, and it gets even worse when we talk about suicide.

According to AFSP, suicide rates are on the rise, and have been for a long, LONG time. More than likely, you know someone who has attempted, completed, or lost someone to suicide.

Despite all of the data indicating that everything is going to crap (it's not - more people are bringing awareness and making a difference than ever before), we're optimistic. Mental health is moving to the forefront of the conversation, and the more awareness we have, the better equipped we'll be to help our neighbors and ourselves.

One of the things I've really appreciated over the last few years is the willingness celebrities have to discuss their own struggles with mental health. Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the list goes on and on. While poking around my Spotify playlist, I came across a song from way back when (2011) that still gets stuck in my head today.

Blue telephone booth from the  TV show Doctor Who with blurred space behind it


Back in my teenage years, I dated a girl. I really liked this girl. I liked her so much that when I told her I was going to Warped Tour, she asked me to watch one of her favorite bands for her that I was definitely not into at the time. Like the lovestruck, puberty-ridden, desperate-for-validation fool that I was, I agreed and I even decided to surprise her with some merch!

So whaddya know? The day of the show comes and it's pouring rain in freakin' BUCKETS. That day's event was at the Idaho Center, and it was supposed to be all sunshine, and dudes in bro tanks, and too much skin with not enough sunscreen, and mile-long lines to get a drink from the one functional water fountain, and puddles of sweat so large you could take a bath in them. Instead, it was a bunch of soggy, mud-covered weirdos wrestling in the pits in front of the secondary stages and puddles of water you could bathe in.

Fortunately, most of the bands we wanted to see that year were playing the main stage, which had been moved inside. Unfortunately, the band I had promised to see, Meg & Dia, was NOT on the main stage, and I wasn't going to break my promise. So 5 minutes before their set was scheduled to start, I trudged out into the summer rain, cursing my bad luck and imagining how happy my girlfriend would be when I handed her the surprise merch. Heck, maybe I'd even get a kiss!

I get to the stage, and there's like 20 people right up at the front. There's a huge mud pit and some people are wrestling like it's WWE or something. I felt bad for the band, cuz it must have REALLY sucked to play that day. I listened to their set and ended up digging some of their stuff, then snagged a T-shirt. On the way back to where my dad and brother were sitting, I concocted a whole bunch of highly unlikely scenarios regarding me and my lady friend after I gave her the new shirt (get your minds out of the gutter, people!).

A few years after that soggy Warped Tour and no kiss from that girlfriend, I came across an album called Red by Dia Frampton. I started listening and found that her voice sounded like I had heard it somewhere. Turns out she had been on season one of The Voice and was the runner-up. She was also in Meg & Dia, which is why sounded so familiar!

Anyway, the first track on the album is called "Don't Kick The Chair", and it's got Kid Cudi on it, which was pretty impressive. I don't remember much of the rest of the album, but this song has worked it's way back into my brain more times than I can count.

One of my favorite things about this song is how upbeat it is, especially in relation to what it's talking about. There's a lot of dark content in here, but the song itself is poppy and catchy and kind of a bop. And at the time of this song's release, there was still a huge stigma surrounding most aspects of mental health, especially suicide.

Of course, there have been many other songs that talk about mental health, but a lot of the ones I've heard haven't been so upfront about it. The prechorus and chorus come right to the point:

There are lonely nights when you see no hope
And you’re feeling short of breath
Like a whole damn world is a braided rope
In a noose around your neck
Don’t kick the chair
It’s gonna get better
Don’t kick the chair
It can only get better

I've loved this song for a long time. I've followed Dia in her musical endeavors for a few years now, and she's got some amazing stuff. Her story is inspiring, and she doesn't really sugarcoat things. Check out this post she wrote a couple of years ago before releasing her latest solo album. She also released a new album with her sister Meg, you can check it out here on Spotify.

This whole post was a really roundabout way to say that I like this song, I appreciate people and companies who advocate for mental health awareness and for making the world a better place, and that no matter what happens, we are all in this together.

Be the light in the darkness for someone. More importantly, be willing to find a light in the darkness if you find yourself in the dark. Being willing to acknowledge that there is a problem is a huge step and one that a lot of people don't want to take because it makes them feel weak, or stupid, or not good enough. I would know; I was one of those people.

Being strong enough to admit there's a problem takes courage; doing the work to get help can be downright heroic. No one likes admitting that they need help, but by accepting help from people who are trained to help us cope with our issues, we're setting ourselves up for progress.

There's no magic spell I can say to take away your sadness. There's nothing I can say to remove the weight on your soul, no ritual that will dissolve the clouds and let the sunshine in. There are no words that will make your problems fade. There's just you and your problems, me and my problems, and the hope that by sharing those problems with someone, they won't be as heavy as they once were.

Get help if you need it. Take medication if you need it. Talk to someone if you need it. Go on a drive and listen to loud, angry, sad music if you need it. And when everything closes in, when you feel like you're suffocating under the weight of the world's rope, remember: don't kick the chair.


P.S. This was a heavy one, so please remember to reach out if you need help. It's ok not to be ok - talk to someone if you need to.

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