Last year I drove 3 hours away from my home after taking a bottle of Adderall, crying most of the way. I smoked three packs of cigarettes and drank nothing but energy drinks in the hope that my heart would just give out. My heart, you see, was broken, and I had lost my job- I felt like I was never going to make it as an adult, so why keep trying?
It was an impulsive, dangerous decision made during a panic attack. I didn’t care if I lived or died, I just wanted to stop hurting.
I stopped hurting, and I stayed alive.
When I read the XOJane piece “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing”, I thought about that time. I thought about how I would have felt as someone struggling with feeling like a burden, feeling like my life was too messy, feeling like all I had to offer the world as a fat femme was “usefulness” and I couldn’t even do that anymore. I thought of all the friends who had cast me off for being “intense” or “dramatic”, all the lovers who had left me for being “too emotional”. I was too much and I didn’t know how to contain it, any of it, so I felt like death was the only answer.
Thank god this piece wasn’t in the world to help convince me.
I was lucky in that I had people from various times of my life show up very suddenly to calm me and reassure me. Boyfriends from my teenage years told me why I was important, even now, years later. Friends from social circles I barely spoke to reached out to remind me of my good qualities. I was lucky because I could ask for help, and because I had people around willing to give it to me. Some might have said that I had struggled so long with suicidal feelings and depression, that because I had a hard time working in an office or hadn’t had a relationship that lasted longer than a couple of years I was a “failed adult”. Others might feel that my being a sex worker is reason enough to demonstrate that my life was wasted. But more people believed in me, and through that, I lived.
I’ve had 3 friends who have died from suicide in the last year. Many others who are friends of friends have also lost their battles with their mental health demons. To see someplace as widely read as XOJane publishing a piece that suggests the death of people who have mental illness is a blessing in any way is insulting, both to those of us dealing with these issues and our loved ones (especially those left behind). To know that someone was PAID by XOJane for exploiting the private struggles of someone she considered a “friend” is repulsive, never mind dangerous. The fact that this woman who died was also a sex worker just adds a cherry to the top of this shit sundae.
I understand that clickbait is money, but surely there are limits to how low we’ll stoop for capitalist gain? Is that advertising money really worth putting an article out into the world that tells suicidal people that yeah, actually, their friends MIGHT indeed think they should die, because being alive and mentally ill is inconvenient to them?
I’ve written a lot about mental health (read here about how no one is an island, or here on how to care for suicidal loved ones). But I also know how it feels to be in that space where you are bogged down by your depression, or trapped by your anxiety. I know how it feels to wonder if your friends and family think you’re a burden. To publish a piece that seems to underline and encourage this way of thinking during May, Mental Health Awareness Month, is irresponsible and frankly, vicious to a marginalized and misunderstood segment of the population.
XOJane, you should be ashamed, and you have a lot to answer for here. This was not an “unpopular opinion”. This was cruelty.