It’s been years since I posted something personal on my website. I wasn’t always this withdrawn. In my teens, I kept a public personal blog. I wasn’t afraid to express emotion, or to embarrass myself.
Then, I stopped. My personal website became a business card; a place for people to get in touch with me, and to hold onto a domain name I had no active use for.
I was scared.
I was scared that if I had a platform, I would say the wrong things.
I had chronic depression as a teen and young adult. By the time I was ten years old, I began dwelling seriously on suicide as the only way to escape a truly awful home environment, and made a serious suicide attempt at 21. I had become overwhelmed and hopeless about the pressures of supporting myself and/or affording an undergraduate degree in the recession without support.
My life became better after I got my university degree and proved I could support myself. But I still struggle with chronic suicidal ideation.
It’s background noise at this point, but it’s become a habit that I still fall back to in times of stress; when I have a bad enough setback, suicide is always one of the first options that come to mind. This how my brain is wired now. It’s part of how I think.
Any kind of suicidal ideation can be taken out of context and seen as a threat, by both good and bad actors. So I’ve stayed silent, to avoid things coming up to hurt or haunt me.
But keeping secrets comes at a cost.
I’m told I’m hard to get to know. I’m frequently silent. I often feel fake; in interactions with colleagues, even with people who claim me as a friend. I wear masks, and they become quiet heavy.
The biggest problem is, if I stay silent, everyone else who is struggling and stays silent will think they’re alone. I’ve lost one good friend to suicide, and several acquaintances that should not have died so young. I had no idea that any of them were suicidal until after they were dead.
If I had, could I have talked to them about it? Helped them feel less alone? (Having suicidal thoughts is often a source of shame; you’re weak, you’re dysfunctional, you’re crazy.)
I’ll never know.
But I want to try.
It’s safer to stay silent. It’s easy to keep my head down and present the Spock-like facade of a hyper-confident programmer, all logic and no emotions. But it’s not worth it.
So I’m going to start talking more.
Because I’m not alone here.
Because it’s selfish to hold back.
Because I want to emit more light.