Tag Archives: mental illness

please believe you are worth saving.

31 Jan

Trigger warning: discussion of crimes against children, mental illness, and suicide.

It’s likely nobody cares what I have to say about a celebrity suicide, and that is okay. I’m writing this because I needed to get it out of my brain. And I’m sharing it because of the sliver of a chance that it might help someone.

In the early hours of this very day, it seems that Mark Wayne Salling made the decision to end his life.

Many of you won’t know who that is. Up until a couple years ago, his biggest claim to fame was an acting role on a once-popular, long cancelled television show. In December 2015, however, his b-list celebrity was eclipsed by a well-publicized arrest for possession of child pornography. Legal proceedings took some time. In October 2017 he pled guilty to his crimes before a federal court. He was to be sentenced to years of prison time in March 2018. Instead, today, he died.

Salling’s crimes were horrific. Some of the sexual images found on his computer featured children as young as two years old. There is absolutely, unequivocally, no excuse for this disgusting victimization of vulnerable children. There are undoubtedly people who are rejoicing that he is gone from the world, and I can see their reasoning.

But I’m not one of those people.

I cried when I read about his death.

I remembered that I had sent him a direct message on Instagram within a few months of his arrest a few years ago. His account has been deleted sometime between now and then, but I still have the message I sent, and I still remember the reason I sent it—my fear that he would do the thing he chose to do today. I have no reason to assume he ever opened it, let alone read it.

Tangent: anyone with a passing familiarity with Glee fandom knows that nobody hated Glee like Glee fans hated it. It was a unique show with a promising start, but it was flawed from the beginning and by the end of the first season had become a true trainwreck. The writing was inconsistent and illogical, the musical selections sometimes baffling, the cast bloated with too many adults playing teens. But I still fell in love with some parts of the show, and it was a hard one for me to give up. After Salling’s co-star Cory Monteith died in July 2013 of a heroin overdose, I found it much easier. The loss of Monteith’s character Finn Hudson, the emotional heart of the show, made me too sad to even think of watching another episode.

All this to say,  I “knew” Mark Salling only in the superficial way many of us know public figures—we catch glimpses of who they are in their performances, we see tabloid gossip, we follow them on social media, and that’s it. It’s nowhere near a true knowing of a person.

Acknowledging that we were strangers, I still chose to write him a personal message after learning of his arrest for vile, terrible crimes.

I have known a lot of shame and embarrassment in my life. Some of the things documented in this sparsely updated, long dormant blog are embarrassing to me. I’ve failed a lot in my life, often with no good excuse. I was once fired from a job I liked because even after multiple generous opportunities from my supervisor, I couldn’t manage my mental health well enough to meet minimum attendance standards. Some of these things cause me deep pain and shame. Some of them have taken me years to be able to say out loud. I’ve still never known the kind of shame I imagine gripped someone like Mark Salling his entire life. I’ve never faced the reality of millions of people learning my darkest secrets, and some responding by calling me all manner of names and publicly telling me to kill myself.

Here is a snippet of what I wrote to Salling:

“I want to tell you that even in the worst situations, even when we feel the ugliest and most irredeemable, there is still hope. God loves you and has a purpose and a plan for your life. It may be hard to see, but healing is possible; transformation is possible. Even when there are harsh consequences for undeniably evil things we do—God still loves and still wants to rescue. You are not alone. You are not beyond forgiveness.

“I’ll be praying for you. And I’ll continue to work and pray for justice for the main innocent victims of heinous crimes like child pornography. God loves those children deeply—he wants to see them protected, healed, rescued. But the beautiful, terrible mystery of Christianity is that His love isn’t only for oppressed people. It’s also for their oppressors. I pray that you can find that love. God can make all things new. May it be so for you.”

I am sharing this post, disjointed though my thoughts may be, because it truly breaks my heart to imagine the shame, self-loathing, despair and loneliness that drove Mark Salling to the point of suicide.  I have lost a loved one in this way, and it devastated our family. It grieves me so deeply to imagine the final, isolated, miserable moments of people who make this choice. Like many people who live with depression, I am able to imagine getting to that place. I’ve been nearer to it than I’d ever want to be. It is a horrible, horrible place.

If you are anywhere near this place, I am begging you to get whatever help you can get. Call a friend. Call a coworker. Send a DM to a buddy from Tumblr. If you don’t feel able to reach out to someone you know, call 1-800-273-8255 (The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Text “Hello” to 741-741 (the Crisis Text Line). Both of these are completely anonymous ways to receive support.

Your life is worth something. Your life is valued. Your life is TREASURED. Even if you have committed horrible crimes. Even if you’ve failed in mortifying ways. Even if you’ve been rejected by people who you love. There is no depth from which your life cannot be rescued and saved. I really believe it. I hope you can have the courage to try, to hope, that you can believe it too.