To anyone reading this who is struggling, if I can do this, you can do this too.
It’s the end of September and it's Suicide Prevention Month
Trigger Warning: Suicidal ideations, mental health, adoptee suicide statistics
“To anyone reading this who is struggling, if I can do this, you can do this too. It’s not easy to unwind and begin healing from trauma amidst multiple mental health issues, but it can be done.” Those lines are from the Love What Matters article I was invited to write at the end of July. While what I said in that piece was important to me, sharing my mental health diagnosis with the number of people it reached was one of the most exposing and dysregulating things I have ever done in my life. However, the message remains true.
After coming out on a large internet platform as “multiply neurodivergent” and discussing private struggles within my adoptive family, I watched the numbers on my social media lists drop; the additional lack of IRL support I received was sobering. I don’t know which part these alleged “friends” were choosing to dump me over, but to say my anxiety and OCD spiraled would be an understatement. I would go as far as to say I had one of the worst C-PTSD triggered dissociative episodes I’ve gone through in my life.
The world turned pink as my brain floated to safety outside of my body. I felt the silent harsh judgments swirl. My abandonment issues crushed into my chest. I laid for a few days on my life-raft in the living room (my favorite cozy couch) while my adopted world crumbled and my brain split open. I felt seen in a way every cell in my body was not prepared for. Subtle suggestions danced through my mind that I knew not to follow, but they felt convincing. I wanted to go immediately back into the FOG… but I didn’t. I made art instead.
The memory of focusing intently during those moments on the belief that I did a bad job effectively writing about coping with suicidal ideations is what haunts me the most. That, and how was I going to convince people in the future not to harm themselves if mentally shattering was the reaction to my own article on hope? What a perfectionist trauma response!
I was not ready to tell anyone I also have Bipolar, but I did… and I did it in a big way. I realize this was self-imposed, but if I am going to be a writer and advocate, I felt leaving one huge piece of my puzzle out was dastardly. How can I stand up for what I believe in day-in and day-out, trying to bring awareness to issues and aim to help break stigmas, only to share selectively when offered an opportunity in front of millions of people? I started to feel dishonest. I had to overcome the internalized stigma of this disorder. Just like I had to overcome my identity as the fawning “grateful adoptee” I had been asked to be for so many years.
If there is anything I am grateful for it’s that I got myself into therapy when my spirit broke by thirty.
If you are an adoptee, I suspect you know why I am writing this post. It’s the end of September and it is Suicide Prevention Month. Too many members of our community have lost their lives prematurely after suffering from traumas in their “adopted lives” that have compounded post-separation wounding.
What I would like non-adopted persons reading this to know is that adoptees are 4 times more likely than non-adopted persons to die by suicide.
For additional reading (and listening opportunities) on issues faced by transracial (TRA) and inter-country adoptees that make the experience layered in ways I cannot speak to through experience, please consider visiting the resources I have listed below. It is important to know that the adoptee community is dominated by white voices like mine in adoptive families, in the media and online. There are conversations happening that deserve attention for a better understanding of why adoption is a complex, traumatizing experience for some and why people are hurting and begging to be heard. The adoptee movement is happening for a reason.
Lynelle Long’s project Intercountry Adoptee Voices.
Amanda Justice on Instagram: @blackgirlwhitefamily, a woman I have learned a lot from. Amanda is actionable!
Haley Radke’s podcast project Adoptees On: The podcast where adoptees discuss the adoption experience.
Note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now 988. More info here.
Links to websites, articles, studies and accounts are highlighted or underlined depending on your device.
Thank you so much for coming here to read. As many of you already know, sharing personal thoughts and feelings as adoptees can come at a high cost. My heart is full of love and appreciation for those of you who have supported me while I come “out of the FOG”, while I continue to build this project, and for the people who have not abandoned me while I learn to grow. I appreciate you.
All adoptee experiences are not the same and each person’s perspectives are valid.
Adoption is not a mental health disorder.