Imagine you go to a mall. It’s your first time there in over a year because when you went before, it was unhealthy. But you go again because you know it’s time to face your fear. You know it’s time to move on, to let go. You know you have do to this for yourself, for your mental health. The problem is after you go to this mall, after you feel happier and lighter and at peace because you went, you’re accused of robbing it, when all you did was step foot inside.
I don’t know much about Caroline Flack, but I know now that she took her own life. And suddenly here the internet is again, in a midst of a discussion about mental health, one that’ll simmer down until the next celebrity dies by suicide.
Did Caroline Flack assault her boyfriend, Lewis Burton? I don’t know. I know he stood against any prosecution, yet the trial was set for March 4 anyway, less than three months after she was arrested and charged.
Did Caroline Flack live with mental health issues? I don’t know. I just know that she took her own life. I know that the media and internet trolls scrutinized her when they knew no more than I do if she assaulted anyone. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why she’s no longer here.
What I don’t know about Caroline Flack, I do know about myself. I know that I have spent my life dealing with depression and anxiety, which is something I have never shied away from sharing. And while I know that I did make mistakes, I also know that I was accused of doing things that I didn’t do. I know that my actions were twisted and exaggerated and used against me by someone who I still love. And I know that when I tried to make peace, I was met only with more accusations. Imagine you go to a mall, remember?
Two weeks before Caroline Flack died by suicide, I attempted the same. Had I died, those who know me may have spoken out about mental health, about my life-long struggle with depression and anxiety, about my year-long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. But would they have known the truth? Would they have known that the reason I impulsively committed suicide was because I had been bullied? All it took was one phone call, not thirty years of depression. You feel happier and lighter and at peace because you went, remember?
Like Caroline Flack did, I know what it’s like to be judged and scrutinized and bullied by people who don’t know me. I may not know much about her, nor do I understand the depths of what she went through, but I do know what it’s like to be pushed over the edge.
Right now, I’m not here to talk about mental health, and I’m not here to talk about what Caroline Flack did or didn’t do, what she went through or what I went through. I’m here to remind you to show compassion, to give others the benefit of the doubt. I’m here to remind you that we’re all human, even the bullies. I’m here to remind you that you don’t know what’s going on inside of another’s head, another’s heart. And I’m here to remind myself.
Please, just be kind.