Out of the Darkness with Tara
Tara and I met five years ago, but we knew one another long before that. We knew one another on a soul level. You know what I mean? People exist in the world who are your soul friends. Eventually, you’ll meet them face to face. The whole time, you’re souls are already connected. Right after I met Tara, I moved about three and a half hours away. Didn’t matter. Not one little bit. Tara was in my life and that was that. Soul friends don’t drift apart.
On the surface, Tara and I don’t have much in common. She’s all about horror movies. I scare pretty easy. When she’s jamming out to Marilyn Manson, I’m having a sing-along with the Indigo Girls. Tara leans more toward gorgeous black clothing with gothic undertones. I’m all rainbows and kittens. These surface differences make for some fun times.
Now, you could look at us, talk with us, and find all that we have in common as well. We’re both plus size chicks covered in beautiful body art with a penchant for bawdy jokes, Fireball, and frustrating our husbands by continually rescuing dogs. We shamelessly love Macklemore. There’s motherhood and a similar spiritual path. Tara and I have this other thing in common, one our souls knew about well before we met.
We have the Crazies in common. Don’t get up in arms by me using that word, Crazies (with a capital C). That’s my word for my journey. Tara uses it too. Crazies gives us ownership and takes away anyone else’s power over it. You can’t hurt us by calling us crazy on accounta what ails us. So there.
A symptom of our particular brand of Crazies includes suicidal ideation. Most folks don’t get what suicidal ideation is. Well, most folks don’t get mental health care at all and are willing to live in ignorance, perpetuating stereotypes and the stigma attached to mental illness. That’s what makes having a friend like Tara, a friend who gets it on a personal level, super important. But yeah. Folks don’t get suicidal ideation, so lemme break it down for you right quick.
Suicidal ideation is the same thing as suicidal thoughts and most folks have thoughts of suicide at least once in their lives. It’s a pretty common thing whether people admit to it or not. There are two kinds of suicidal ideation- passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation involves a desire to die, but with no plan for doing so. Active suicidal ideation involves a desire to die with a plan for doing so. This may or may not lead to a suicide attempt.
Suicidal ideation is a symptom of a bevy of mental disorders including Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety. Tara and I both have Crazies that make suicidal ideation a very real, debilitating part of our lives.
Pretty scary stuff, right? When I’m at my lowest, plan in hand (perhaps even put in motion), I don’t want to talk to my support group. Not my husband. Not my soul sister across the street or the one in North Carolina either. I want to talk to one person. Tara.
It’s not that those other people aren’t important and loved. They’re invested in keeping me alive when I’m unable to be invested. And I may tell them what I’m feeling from time to time, but Tara gets me in a way no one else in my life possibly can because she’s been there. She knows. And guess what. When Tara is feeling at her lowest, she calls me too. She knows I’m there and I’m ready to go to battle for her.
More importantly, when we don’t make that call, we’re still aware of what’s happening. We know the signs. She knows when I go radio silent on social media, it’s time for a check in. I know when she get’s cagey, it’s time to get up in her business. And there are hundreds of other indicators as well. We might not want to hear about it. We might want to shut one another out, but that’s not happening.
Tara explains why this works for us. “My husband gets upset, because he doesn’t fully grasp it. It hurts him so deeply and I know it does. That guilt piles up. You’ve been there. You know how it feels to have everyone freak out and how we don’t want that, but we have to do something or we’re going to die.”
And she’s right about all of that, friends. I know. I totally know what she means and how she feels and I’ll listen to her and we’ll check in on one another. “Every hour if we have to,” Tara says. “We’ll contact one another’s husbands too. We’ve both done it. When something needs to be done, we’ll make that call. We’re not about indulging one another. We understand this is life and death.”
To find someone you can have that trust is unique. You don’t find that every day. We tell one another things we can’t tell others. We’re safe.
Tara started speaking openly about her own mental illness after she was hospitalized two years ago. She’s a crusader, y’all, and I’m so freaking proud of her. Her friends began asking her about her experiences. They’d message her, send texts, call her. “They suffered in silence,” she says. “The stigma around mental illness can literally kill people.” Although she sees the impact she’s making for herself and others by sharing her journey, it isn’t enough for Tara.
She took action with her first Walk Out of Darkness Community Walk in 2015. Held in hundreds of cities across the country, the walks give people the courage to open up about their own struggle or loss, and the platform to change our culture’s approach to mental health. The walk helps raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leader in the fight against suicide. We fund research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states.
This year, I’m officially walking on Tara’s team at the Atlanta walk on November 5. I’m walking for her and for myself and for the countless others out there who are suffering. I’m taking her lead and celebrating her survival. When we talk about doing this event together, we get verklempt. Suicide is a matter of fact business between the two of us. It’s a thing in our lives. I mean, I don’t have nearly the suicidal ideation I once had. Neither does Tara, but it still pops up and wrecks us. And we’re still here for one another.
I signed up to walk with Tara through tears. The walk scares both of us as much as it empowers us. The reality of suicide is right here in the faces of others who have attempted it, others who have lost friends and family. It’s right here and it’s scary, but still… Tara walks and I’m walking with her.
100% of the funds Tara raises (and she’s aiming for $1500 this year!) stay in Georgia and help support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
How does the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention fight suicide?
AFSP uses you donations to:
- Fund Research for Suicide Prevention
- Create and Distribute Education Programs
- Advocate for Public Policy
- Support Survivors of Suicide Loss
Thanks to donors, AFSP has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025.
My goal is to raise $500 for Tara’s team. This is my donation page. Every donation helps. Don’t feel like what you can give won’t make a difference. It will. It can. It does. But here’s the thing, friends. If a donation isn’t possible, you can support suicide prevention by being as open as you can about your journey. You can listen. Learn. Grow. I’ve been openly sharing my journey with mental illness/mental health/mental wellness for nearly six years. Many of us have connected on social media and via my blog. Talking about it helps. Knowing we’re not alone helps. Tara and I are a team and we’ll keep supporting and encouraging one another.
Tara is my soul friend. Her life is precious. She is important. We will keep talking about this. And we will walk together.
If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline