This issue of HIAS is coming a day early because tomorrow is election day and frankly, this issue is too important to get mixed up with that chaos. Also, go vote.
Hi from isolation!
For the past three years, I’ve lived part time in Canada. I get my polite maple syrup on for a few months, and then I go back to my hometown in Nevada where I indulge in the part of me that is, admittedly, a little bit redneck. Typically, this is a straightforward setup. But in pandemic times, returning to Canada means a mandatory 14 day quarantine.
How’s it going you ask? Well, today is Day 5 and I’ve lined half of my kitchen with contact paper. Riveting stuff.
Putzing around the apartment doing mundane tasks has given me lots of ear time with the “Last Day Podcast
” by Lemonada Media. Put simply, there’s no way I can write a newsletter about recovering from depression and learning the skill of happiness without bringing “Last Day” into the mix. It is simply too good and too important to ignore.
It is not an easy listen. And this is not an easy issue of Happiness Is A Skill. But it is so important. I implore you to read it, and to also tread lightly.
“Last Day” is a podcast about what’s killing us, with a mental health slant. Season 1 is about the opioid crisis. Season 2 is about suicide.
I began receiving messages from people all around the world the second my article on antidepressant withdrawal was published in the Washington Post
. The scenarios are different, but the stories are all the same. Someone gets put on these drugs for one reason or another, time goes by, the drugs stop working, so they try to wean off or stop the drugs only to find that their withdrawal symptoms are unbearable, and far worse than the original ailment. Unsupported by their doctors or their families, they reach out to me in desperation.
Lately, for whatever reason, more of these messages are seriously threatening suicide.
In one week, I received four separate suicidal messages from four different people—and 18 year old girl, a mother of three kids, a grandmother, and one man who told me his story and then said, “you might save my life.”
I write back. I always write back. The only reason why I am here today is because when I was in withdrawal and fighting off my own suicidal ideation, my mother picked up the phone every single time. I can’t not write back to these people. I can’t I can’t I can’t.
But I can’t save them, either.
And this is why I think “Last Day” is so important. It addresses all the complexities and realities about suicide that one person cannot possibly take on by themselves.
If you’re in a position of support, like me, then this podcast should be required listening. The same goes for someone who has lost someone to suicide, the parent of a child who is struggling, and anyone fighting off their own suicidal thoughts.
It will be hard to listen to. And if it gets too hard, I need you to press pause, take a break, and come back to it later. You are not a subscriber of Happiness Is A Skill because you are looking for easy answers. None of this is easy, but it’s the most important work any of us will ever do.
Hosted by Stephanie Wittels Wachs, new episodes of “Last Day” are released every Wednesday. Episode one begins with a tale of two Kevins, Kevin Briggs and Kevin Berthia, who met one fateful day on the Golden Gate Bridge. Though this is a difficult but ultimately triumphant story, “Last Day” is not exploitative. It is about what we can do to reduce the rate of suicide, approached with a level humor, wit, and quest for progress. It is about somehow finding the light and the solutions that can save us, even during the darkest of times.