I've been reading Post Secret since it came out. And every Sunday (sometimes late Saturday night, in my world), I click over there and scroll down the list of new postcard secrets that have been sent to Frank [Warren] and selected for inclusion in that week's blog.
For the uninitiated, Post Secret is a compilation of postcards sent to Frank in Germantown, MD. They are small works of art -- some are more elaborate than others, with handmade drawings and really interesting collages. Some feature interesting pieces of graphic design, and some are just scrawled out in barely legible handwriting. But all ostensibly have one thing in common -- they have written on them a secret from the sender. Something they've never shared with someone else and are now including as part of the message of the postcard.
The postcards vary widely in their content. Some are funny. Some are petty. Some are tragic. Some are very specific. Some are broadly based. They cover lots of general human interests -- sex, pet peeves, broken relationships, jealousies, traumas, regrets, addictions, mental illness, gratitude, hopes and wishes, and confessions. They are relatable in very tangible ways -- "I've done that. I understand that." They call up our humanity and our empathy and sometimes our sympathy. They let us know that we are not alone.
Sometimes, we see Frank posts responses and reactions to the postcards. The spiral of humanity grows, and the community of understanding widens. It furthers the knowledge that we are not isolated entities, but that we are, in fact, despite the voices of our lesser natures and our diseases, NOT alone. Quite the opposite, we are inextricably linked to one another we can only barely understand.
The notes that are helpful are the ones that let someone know that they helped. That a life was saved because of a nod, a smile, a note written, a good deed done. It's National Suicide Prevention Week, and Post Secret is actively involved in fundraising for the cause. It's a strange topic for me, because I think it's important to get as much help out there for people who struggle with mental illness as possible.
But as I just mentioned yesterday, there may come a time and and a place where someone falls prey to a belief that is beyond their control and takes their own life. It doesn't mean that everyone didn't do enough or that the person did it wrong. It means that the sickness finally won out over the healthy parts.
That said, there are things to know and ways to help, and I guess these sorts of weeks are ways to get the word out. Get people talking about things that are usually whispered about behind closed doors, if ever at all. It's a way to let people know that things like this are happening and that mental illness is a real thing. It's not pretend, and it's just as deadly as an overdose when left untreated.
So, brush up your skills and if you know someone who might need help, check out the Suicide Prevention Wiki for a comprehensive list of hotlines and information.
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