The increasing suicide rate in the United States has reached its highest point since the end of the second World War.
A few months ago, I expected to spend this weekend running my second half-marathon. One of the first things I did after running my first was find the next date to aim for, and I was excited to spend my winter and early spring training for an improved race time. Instead, I’ve spent it in physical therapy. In November I noticed an increasing pain in my left hip after my runs, and then, the day after a rainy December 10K, I couldn’t lift my leg to go up a stair or tie my shoe.
I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it.
— Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
On Monday, I spoke at The Story Collider, a live event that provides a stage for people to tell true, personal stories. I decided to tell a very personal one: the story of the six months I spent trapped in agonizing anxiety.
I procrastinated getting my story in shape, and by Sunday I was in a horrendous mood. I felt stressed out, not ready, and angry at myself for signing up. Why was I putting myself through this anyway? What was the point of going up on stage to tell a bunch of strangers about the most personal and painful moments of my life? I felt embarrassed that I’d open myself up that way, convinced that everyone would think I was strange, and maybe a little sad.
From 1999 to 2016, suicide rates in the United States increased by 30 percent—while decreasing in the rest of the world.
But there’s hope.
I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t lost things in life. But what’s funny to me is how we always talk about taking risks like it’s an option or a decision we get to make. Like there might be some version of life in which just getting out of bed doesn’t open you up to an endless gamut of risks, some version of life in which things don’t change and nothing happens.
—Steph Davis, TEDx Boulder, 2014
Was it 10 minutes or 10 months ago that this, the year of our lord 2018, got off to its cold, weary start? My calendar tells me it’s the latter, that we’re here again approaching the end and its concurrent new beginning, but my mind is insisting on the former, efficiently condensing nearly 365 days into a brief blink, like I experienced the whole year in the time it would take to have a coffee with one of the friends I feel too busy to see. Continue reading
Or, “holy shit, I finished the race.” By me, over at halfmarathons.net. Thanks to the lovely owner there for giving me a space to indulge in my post-race high.
“Approximately 861 Americans…die by suicide every week.”