Stevie Ryan with two men at a recording studio

YouTuber and co-host of the podcast Mentally Ch(ill) Stevie Ryan died by suicide on Saturday, July 1. Ryan rose to fame through her YouTube series “Little Loca” and celebrity impressions. She also starred in “Stevie TV,” a sketch-based show on VH1, and co-hosted the E! series “Sex with Brody.”

Ryan was open about her mental health, frequently tweeting about it and discussing depression on her podcast.


According to People, Ryan and her and co-host Kristen Carney also discussed suicide and the death of Ryan’s grandfather earlier that week in an episode released two days before Ryan’s death.

“I’m just worried that this is going to send me into a deeper depression,” Ryan said of the show’s effect on her mental health.

Fans and colleagues of Ryan’s took to Twitter to mourn her passing.

If this news is hard for you, know you are not alone — and there is help for people who are feeling suicidal. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

Header image via Facebook.

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The call came that my son was gone. All I kept asking was, “What do you mean he is gone?”

When my son of 27 years was taken from me by depression leading to suicide, the pain I felt came from a whole different paradigm. This was not what I signed up for when I became a mother. I expected to grow old watching my child live a happy productive life. Suddenly, a lifetime of watching him grow, become a man, start a family and become an adult were gone. To me, suicide seems to be an ending to the pain of the person who succumbs to it. Yet, it is only the beginning to those of us left behind to pick up the pieces of our existence.

I was in shock in the beginning and really didn’t feel anything. I don’t believe I cried during those first couple of days after Christopher’s death. I later busied myself with doctor appointments and self-care became a priority even though I was resistant to the idea. The psychiatrist, psychologist and even my primary care doctors all worked together to keep me capable of basic functioning. Slowly, the coping skills began to find their way into my perplexed and anxiety-ridden mind.

It seemed incomprehensible that everything in our lives we had taken for granted as the truth was forever altered. Hopes, dreams, the future as we knew it were all sent to oblivion in a single moment. However, even though I did not believe it possible in those first couple of years, things have begun to change into more of a “normal” pattern and flow. My husband and I tentatively moved on into our “new normal.” We acknowledge there will always be the rough days and they must run their course. We have learned we cannot rush our healing nor ignore our grief.

The most arduous battle was the immediate absence of someone I had spent a lifetime caring for. I wondered if he would be remembered as others moved on with their lives after the immediacy of the crisis. I pulled out every picture I had and went through his life over again remembering every detail of what made him who he was. I made albums, filled containers of all his childhood belongings. Carefully placing cherished awards and projects from school for safekeeping to give to his daughters when they are grown.

I found online support groups to be very useful as they allowed me to be in the throes of a “meltdown” and still communicating through the keyboard. This allowed real-time conversations with others who shared the same pain I felt. These groups allowed me to avoid the physical human contact I was not ready for in my delicate state, but still allowed me to interact with others. These groups provide families and individuals — in varying stages of recovery — the chance to help each other and provide hope to those who are not as far along in their own recovery.

My husband and I are and will continue to be our child’s parents. The fact that he is not here physically does not mean he is no longer our son. We still are the parents of three sons. My personal mission has become to make sure my son is never forgotten. I require his memory be in totality and not summed up the one heartbreaking moment in which he left this life. This purpose gave me the fortitude to begin looking for possible ways to become a stronger person.

I recently signed up for classes and am working on becoming a Grief Recovery Specialist. Helping others is also becoming a wonderful tool in my own recovery. Using the new competencies, I have and will be learning, to aid another is a healing process in and of itself. I want to tell others that though it may not seem possible right now, but at some point, you will be the person who is farther down the recovery path than the next. I want to tell someone, “You will know what works for you and what may work for another grieving parent. You will have informative insight of a child loss survivor because you are one.”

There will be pain which may seem insurmountable. Allow yourself to accept help and live life. Remember there is someone somewhere who has answers when you are ready. You may need a friend or family member to take the first step for you to begin healing. Sometimes you simply may not be capable of seeking help on our own. It’s perfectly respectable to receive and utilize the help you need. Alternately, so is being capable and strong. It doesn’t mean you cared less or aren’t grieving enough because you are capable of strength in adversity. The reality of grieving is that your grief won’t be like anyone else. Grief is as individual as the person grieving.

Every one of us as a survivor can truly aspire to live their life while preserving their precious child’s memories. Eventually, time and perseverance will allow you to forge ahead finding your way to hope and your “new normal!”

Follow this journey on Facebook or on Carol’s blog.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via contributor.


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. For eating disorders, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting“NEDA” to 741-741.

Many people with a mental illness ask: “What is recovery?” Many often see recovery as a scary process.

Recovery means having good days as well as bad ones. Recovery does not mean you’re cured. Recovery does not mean you don’t have slip ups. Recovery is a scary place if you let it be. Recovery is a big hill that is worthy to climb.

Often I ask myself, “Was I worth recovery?” I often question why I did this to myself, and why I didn’t just stay the way I was. For me, the reason behind recovery was that I wanted to be free of my mental illnesses. Am I? No. I’m not, but I’m not my illnesses either.

I’m thrown back a photo from earlier this year when I happened to be hospitalized for my depression. This night in particular, I attempted to die by suicide. I remember this night clearly. I wanted everything to end, including mostly my life. The pain I was in wasn’t the reason I wanted to die — it was the fact I was done breathing, done existing in what I saw as such an empty world, done being hurt and just done by being here on this earth. I was sure no one would have missed me. I was sure everyone’s lives would be better off. I was sick and tired of being a burden on my friends. I was sick of being a burden on hospital staff.

I pretend to look happy in everyday life. I fake a smile. I eat just to please other people and convince people I’m still not struggling with my eating disorder. I keep my emotions bottled up and medicate myself with other tools to ease what I’m feeling — including self-harm. I hide my scars because I’m scared it will hurt and “freak out” the people around me. I feel as if no one understands what I’m feeling, so harming myself makes me feel “normal” for just five minutes; then, I’m back to where I started.

I try to use sleep as an escape, but honestly what even is sleep? I go days where I can’t sleep, and I look and feel like a zombie. I sometimes manage only two hours, and for whatever reason, I can’t get back to sleep. Insomnia is hell. Sometimes I will stay awake thinking about how I fucked up every bit of my life. Sometimes I will just think about how worthless I am to everyone around me. Sometimes the only thing to help me sleep at night is self-harm.

So what is recovery?

Recovery still means battling with your inner demons. Recovery is crying and screaming and harming yourself to feel alive. Recovery is sometimes starving and vomiting until you make you hurt. Recovery means having setbacks. Recovery just means living on the outside of life, barely breathing. Recovery is living with the suicidal thoughts on an everyday basis. Recovery is having doctors throw medication your way just to make you “better.” Recovery is not a beautiful destination. Recovery is a scary, daunting place, but I’m trying every damn day to believe there is a light at the end of that tunnel — trying to believe there is hope.

Staying strong in recovery is a hard one. Recovery is your own journey and sometimes you do have to face it alone. Recovery is your own story. Embrace that in you. Embrace your own self-worth and know that you are worth recovery.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via laurenbergstrom


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

If you experience suicidal ideation, life can often feel really lonely in the moments you’re ruminating on feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing or intense emotional pain — particularly when those around you don’t understand what you are going through.

Each person who experiences suicidal ideation needs something different when they confide in someone about their struggles. One person might need to have a lengthy discussion about safety plans. Another person might just want to be listened to and have their feelings validated. Another might just really need a hug.

But above all, people who experience suicidal thoughts need to be heard.

To open up this conversation, we asked people in our mental health community to share with us one thing they wish others understood about their suicidal thoughts.

We hope this post can help others articulate to their loved ones what they need in the times they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please know there is hope and help available to you.

 

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Just because the thoughts are there, doesn’t mean I will act on them. Sometimes they just appear and I can’t control that.” — Victoria M.

2. “Even when [people] say, ‘It’ll get better. Suicide is a permanent answer [to a temporary problem],’ I still feel the same. I can’t see past that mindset at the time. I see no future and only remember the bad in my past. [In those moments] I truly believe everything would be better if I were dead.” — Dan A.

3. “It has nothing to do with the people in my life not making me happy. It had everything to do with being desperate for my own internal pain to end. Nothing they did or didn’t do caused it.” — Jayme S.

4. “It’s not a phase, it’s not attention-seeking, it’s not against everything you believe in. It’s pain.” — Atiya M.

5. “There are various stages of suicidal thoughts. They can be intrusive, but they don’t always mean I’m a danger to myself. If I talk about it, please listen. I know it’s scary but I’m opening up for a reason. Don’t shy away from the topic.” — Sydney A.

6. “I don’t want to die, but experiencing life with anxiety, depression and PTSD is so overwhelming. Sometimes, the idea of living with these mental illnesses for the rest of my life is too much.” — Nicole P.

7. “Even when I’m laughing and smiling and being super positive and happy I’m still imagining suicide… Every day. It’s a constant [for me]. So just [because] I was having the best day of my life yesterday doesn’t mean today will be OK.” — Harlie B.

8. “[For me,] it’s not so much wanting to die but wanting the pain to end and seeing no other [option].” — Grace R.

9. “I’m not looking to have a savior and you can’t rationalize everything for me when I have irrational ideas. I can be almost myself and yet not really. It’s different than just being sad. Sad is like being damp from the rain, and depression and suicidal thoughts [are] like being soaked in an ocean… Sometimes some waves are just too big.” — Krissy B.

10. “Just because the thoughts are there, doesn’t mean I will act on them. Sometimes they just appear and I can’t control that.” — Victoria M.

11. “It’s not always a crisis. Having an overreaction when someone expresses their thoughts can make it so they don’t tell you again. Responses should be filled with empathy and reassurance to the person [to let them know] they are not alone, you are there and they can get through this. Of course if the person is taking actions such as planning for their suicide, then more action needs to be taken to make sure they are safe. But just because someone is having suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean we need to freak out and cause a scene. Sometimes they just need someone to tell them it’s OK.” — Alyse R.

12. “I wish others understood I don’t even understand these thoughts myself. To walk away when I mention these thoughts won’t help, but hinder them, which can create a bigger feeling of being a burden in my heart.” — Tatauq M.

13. “When people speak up and say something has triggered them, it’s not ‘manipulation.’ Speaking up about suicide should be taken seriously.” — Carissa W.

14. “It’s not the ‘easy option.’ It’s the very hardest option there is, but sometimes it seems as if it’s the only one.” — Lucy D.

15. “I wish others understood these thoughts are so dark, every second is a nightmare filled with anger, regret, self-hate [and] a guilt so deep the pain it causes forces you to believe your existence is not only unimportant, but a burden to others. It also means suicidal thoughts may cause you to fantasize about when, and in what way you would choose to end your life. It does not mean that you are actually planning to carry this out or that you truly intend to die. You may even know without a doubt that you will never actually do it. Still, the thoughts and the fantasy and the desire can remain on and off consistently.” — Heather W.

16. “I wish [people] knew that healing does not have a specific, quick, timeframe… It’s difficult to explain how things can recur without a limit or ladder of intensity. It’s much the same every time — the intrusive thoughts or full on desire to cease existence.” — Kayden M.

17. “I need to feel safe to talk about it without you panicking or making it about you. When the feelings are there, holding them in [so] someone else [won’t] freak out is just an added layer of stress.” — Jen L.

18. “[In my experience,] once you have experienced real contemplation of suicide, or even attempted it, these thoughts never really go away… Whether you get better on your own or with help, [oftentimes] these thoughts will come up again when you feel stressed, down or sometimes just randomly. The goal is to realize this, and recognize that when these thoughts become obsessive [you can do] something about it.” — Kevin M.

19. “Using guilt to try and make me not have [suicidal thoughts] only makes me feel worse.” — Athena C.

20. “Please, don’t walk eggshells around me. It makes it difficult to talk with you openly and I then start to feel guilty for bothering you with my problems. Be open and honest with me and let’s discuss why I’m feeling suicidal or experiencing those thoughts like adults. It’s easier to open up then.” — Keira G.

21. “I don’t get to decide when to have these thoughts. They just come from nowhere. I wish that people understood that depression and suicidal thoughts can be experienced by anyone regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status. Just because I’m a black woman who’s also a Christian, they seem to think I should not be suicidal.” — Cameron T.

22. “I wish people understood how fragile I can become on some days. I can get to a point of such hopelessness that one push could send me over the edge. I try not to be this way but I’ve been through way too much… I need to be loved and nurtured now in my life.” — Karen E.

23. “[I wish people knew] I’m not a danger to others.” — Elizabeth D.

24. “I wish I was able to talk about it more. I’m very hesitant to talk about it with anyone because I don’t want pity and I’m not trying to get attention. I just want to talk about my struggles without being judged or labeled dangerous to myself. It’s a heavy burden to face every day and it’s a lonely one, too.” — Leticia E.

25. “Even when I wanted to die there was a small part of me that wanted to live.” — Kate P.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via AnkDesigns.

25 Secrets of People Who've Had Suicidal Thoughts

Tonight I cried.

I’m so tired of struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings.

I cried not for myself but for my children, my husband, my friends.

I cried because I can’t imagine not seeing my baby girl’s second birthday. I can’t imagine not being there for my son’s first day of middle school. I can’t imagine my husband as a single father. A widower.

I cried because my friends would miss me. They would wonder if there was more they could have done.

I cried because I can’t be fixed. The longer I struggle with this, the more I realize it.

The more helpless and overwhelmed I feel.

The more trapped I become.

Trapped because as dark and compelling as these thoughts are, I know my death would hurt those in my life. I know my children need their mother. I know my husband needs his wife. I battle a war in my mind — does my life do more damage? Or would my death do more damage?

For me, death would certainly be easier.

But then I’d never see my children grow up. The cycle of depression, abandonment, suicide as a viable option, would only be strengthened in their lives.

So I lie here, a war raging in my mind.

Life.

Death.

Life.

Death.

For tonight, I’m going to snuggle in to my daughter a little closer. Feel her sweet baby breath on my cheek. I’m going to hold my husband’s hand across the bed. I’m going to plan on waking up in the morning and making my son his favorite breakfast — Coco Wheaties.

Tonight, life wins.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Creatas


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

When you find yourself on the precipice of suicide, sometimes it can feel like it came out of nowhere, and you can often wonder, “When did this start?” Well for me, it all seemed like it started on vacation. I found myself sitting on the floor of my hotel room on day six, writing suicide letters on hotel stationary. As it turns out, this was just the continuation of the slow slide into oblivion I had failed to notice was happening. And ironically, the first letter I wrote was to my doctor, apologizing. I had no idea at the time that one simple sentence he had written to me months earlier was about mean so much more than I could have imagined.

A few days later, I pulled up to a hotel in Florida during a torrential downpour, where I would be staying overnight for my layover before heading home the next day. Suddenly, my phone rang. It was my psychiatrist. He was calling to clarify a refill request, but being freakishly perceptive, he asked a few indirect questions and quickly got me to confess I was depressed. And then he said, “I assume you’re safe though.” I knew what he meant by “safe.” And more importantly, I knew that he did not actually assume so. He was prodding me, because he knew I wouldn’t lie. I can’t lie to him — not directly anyways. Then the truth of it struck me. Depression, for me, doesn’t ever go away. But it was back, and it was in control.

I took a deep breath and told him, “Yeah, I’m safe.” It wasn’t a lie. I was safe. Temporarily perhaps, but I was safe for the time being.

When I got home it was the beginning of a holiday weekend. I knew the earliest I could get ahold of him without paging him in a emergency would be in three days. Phone phobia aside — and it’s bad — I wasn’t going to call him unless I was already at a hospital. I couldn’t bring myself to bother him just because I didn’t “feel good.” It sounded childish to me. I was scheduled to see him in six more weeks. So I would take the medications I was on, and wait.

I strongly recommend against the “wait and see” approach to depression — because it rarely works out well.

But I waited and waited and waited.

Two weeks later, I thought I had survived the worst of it, when in truth, I had simply put on blinders. And I truly didn’t believe I was depressed. I wasn’t sad. I was perfectly happy. Just, hopeless. I saw no point in life. It seemed like a series of moments you try to make the best of — and that was not worth living for to me. And then it hit me — depressed or not, I’m not safe. Because if I snap, it’s going to happen too quickly for me to stop. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I stopped taking my medication. I stopped taking antidepressants, anxiolytics, ADHD medications, everything. And not gradually — all at once. This is not the first time I’ve done something dangerous like this and it probably won’t be the last. I knew the risks, I just didn’t care.

I woke up the next day heart racing and in tears. I was too overwhelmed by depression and anxiety to think clearly. Then I pulled out a note I had tucked away in a box, that my psychiatrist had included when he mailed me a prescription back in December. It said:

Jill,

One thing I admire about you — you are not a quitter!

Merry Christmas,

Dr. T

It certainly wasn’t the first time I had read that note, but it was the first time I had when I so badly needed it. Those turned out to be the exact words I needed, and didn’t even know it. Something inside me did snap and I cried for an hour, at least.

Why would he say that? Why would he think that? I am a quitter — I want to quit! And yet, here I am. Could he be… right? I have tremendous respect for him, in part because he is compassionate, but (sometimes brutally) honest. He is not one to exaggerate. He doesn’t put me on medication just for the sake of doing something. And he doesn’t say things just for the sake of saying something.

I realized the pain wasn’t going to go away, but I decided I wasn’t going to go away either. Piece by piece, I put myself back together as best I could for the time being. I resumed medication and even took vitamins. I added any amount of exercise I could convince myself to do. I meditated. I did everything. I didn’t feel any better really, but that wasn’t the point. I knew that there was no magic — there never has been. For now, I just had to survive.

When you have depression, sometimes even “happiness” isn’t always enough to keep you going.

So we will keep trying medications, and I’m sure we will find a balance again. But in the meantime, I’m still here. Because, for today at least, I didn’t quit. And tomorrow, I’m not going to quit either.

Because I chose to believe my doctor. I chose to believe what he said about me, even if I can’t see it in myself.

I won’t quit.

note from therapist

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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