I’ve been putting off this month’s mailing list, mostly because May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I felt like I should address it, didn’t want to, and then learned that Scott Hutchison had committed suicide.
If you’re familiar with Birthday Suits, you probably realized I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for some time, specifically depression and anxiety, since I was 18. I’ve been on medication since then, and when an ex asked me why I wouldn’t consider going off my medications I said, because I like being alive.
Comedian Chris Gethard has pointed out that no one ever tells a cancer patient they should try stopping chemo, but mental health patients deal with this all the time. Depression may not seem as immediately life threatening, but it absolutely can be. People are sometimes shocked when they learn I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation several years ago. Maybe because I seem “normal.” Everyone I met in the hospital was “normal,” as normal as all of you. Considering that one out of five people experiences mental illness, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 24, mental illness is alarmingly normal, although never recognized as such. That’s why I wanted to write about Scott Hutchison.
On Thursday May 10th, Hutchison was found dead on the banks of the Firth of Forth after an apparent suicide. He was 36 years old, and the singer and guitarist for Frightened Rabbit. This news would’ve saddened me even if Frightened Rabbit weren’t one of my favorite bands, but what’s heartbreaking is that Scott Hutchison has written so many beautiful and eloquent songs about his own depression that have provided me enormous comfort. He was able to think through his mental health to create gorgeous music, but ultimately couldn’t think or create away his depression. No one can. He sent these tweets shortly before he went missing on Tuesday:
The details of Scott Hutchison’s diagnosis or the extent to which he wasmentally ill are beside the point. What matters is he would’ve benefitted from talking to someone, and for whatever reason felt unable to do so. Considering how many people are affected by mental illness, it’s devastating Hutchison couldn’t or wouldn’t get the help he needed. Talking about mental illness is never easy, but that’s why it’s so important. If you need help, there are numerous resources available. Never forget how much you matter, especially on the days when you think you don’t matter at all. If you think someone you know is in need of help, reach out to them. A simple text of “hey, how’s it going?” can often do wonders. If you can’t get a hold of that person, keep trying. Don’t let them go.
BUT NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. The few people who’ve finished reading the latest draft of The Mechanic have been very complimentary, even though the moment my mother finished it she called to make sure I was okay. (I should probably start thinking of it as a horror novel.) I’ve also made tentative steps on a new project, something I’ve been thinking about for a while but is easily the weirdest thing I’ve ever done. Fingers crossed.
I also have a new job! I know all of you were dying to cross that off your list of concerns. As of May 7th I am employed as a technical writer for a software company. I guess all of this is to say that I was intensely depressed for much of 2017, but I’m now in a good place. Getting help for mental illness doesn’t mean I no longer have bad days. It means I know what to do when the really bad days bite me in the ass.
Until next month,