I’ll make you all a deal. This will be one of the last posts that I make on the matter. But you all need to signal boost this. This one needs to be heard by everyone.
I’m at a really good place in my life right now. I just turned 22. I just finished my fourth year of college with a 3.7 GPA, I moved into my first apartment, I’m doing an awesome internship, I’m doing a ton of advocacy work. I’m genuinely happy.
I’m at a really great place.
I wasn’t always.
I’ve been disabled all my life but about ten years ago, I walked into an operating room and came out in a wheelchair. (Well, technically I came out on a stretcher, but you get the point.)
And it took me a while to realize that my life was completely different. In fact, it wasn’t until about three years later, when I was about fifteen, that I really realized it. I don’t know if I was in shock all that time, if I was numb, if the medications that I was on limited any conscious thought, let alone emotion. But it was around the age of fifteen that everything came crashing down and I fell apart. I became extremely depressed. And let me tell you, no matter how hard you try, you never forget that feeling. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Depression is like being in a room where everything is pitch black. And people are screaming at you to turn on the light switch, but you can’t find it, you can’t see it, even though everyone else seems to know exactly where it is, you’re completely lost in this dark room with no way out. Depression is horrible. I would never wish it on my worst enemy. Even now, there are days when I struggle, though those days are nowhere as bad as the weeks, months, that I battled depression as a teenager. As a fifteen-year-old, too weak to put up a fight.
Now, I should mention that I never tried anything.
But believe me when I say that I know what it’s like to want to.
And believe me when I say that if you built a time machine, if you took Jojo Moyes’ infamous book, if you sent it back to 2009, and if fifteen-year-old me had read it…
I probably wouldn’t be here right now.
I’d be dead.
I would have lost my battle.
Because I would have picked up a book wherein the main character kills themselves because they think that their life isn’t worth living now that they’re disabled.
And I would have related all too well, and I would have done something that’s genuinely terrifying to think about. I know I would have. I was not in a good place at that time, I was not strong, and while I did survive, it wouldn’t have taken much for the scales to tip in the other direction.
And I keep going into the Me Before You tags on different websites and I keep seeing teenagers who are in the same place that I once was, who are saying that they were sobbing in the movie theaters because they didn’t expect the ending and they genuinely don’t know what to do.
I would have been one of those teenagers.
I dodged a bullet.
And I know that the author probably didn’t mean for any of this to happen, she didn’t expect the huge backlash from the disabled community, she didn’t expect a very tired college student to be revealing something very personal at 1:06 AM.
She just wanted to tell a story.
I can respect that.
I read an interview a few days ago where she talked about how she had seen a few debates over assisted suicide and she felt compelled to write a story, to give a perspective, to give a voice.
And whether she meant to or not, that voice is a single mantra:
“It’s okay to die.”
And I keep seeing people defend the book, defend the author, defend that voice, by saying that it’s just one perspective, it’s just one voice.
But it’s not.
It’s not okay.
And it’s not just one voice.
You see, we didn’t need Jojo Moyes to be that voice. She thinks we did. But we didn’t.
We hear that voice every single day.
We hear that voice every single day.
Every single day.
We hear people talking about how it’s okay for the disabled to die.
Every. Single. Day.
(Note: I was actually going to make this a video but at this point, I started crying and couldn’t finish, so I’m typing it all out instead.)
And we hear our own inner voice, whispering to us at night, urging us that it’s okay to die.
We hear the voices. We hear them. We hear them every single day. The voices that say that it’s okay to die.
We hear them.
I heard them when I was fifteen. I heard them loud and clear. And I believed them. And had I read Me Before You, it would have been the voice to break the camel’s back. It would have been the voice that I listened to.
This book would have killed me.
This book is going to end up killing someone else.
And I don’t think Jojo Moyes understands, I don’t think that the abled community understands, I think they have the privilege of not understanding just how loud that voice can be and how damaging that voice can be. They don’t hear those voices every day.
But we do.
Whether we want to or not.
And you know what?
For the amount of people who say, “It’s okay to die.” there are very few people out there who say, “It’s okay to live.”
They’re the voices that we need to hear. They’re the voices that are so few and far between.
And I’m here tonight to try to be one of those voices.
For those of you who are constantly hearing the various voices that are telling you that it’s okay to die, please, please know that those voices are lying to you. I know that it’s hard. I know what it’s like to be in that dark room. I also know what it’s like to open the door and to escape.
And I know there are others that have escaped as well. And now, we have to help the others who haven’t. We have to help the others who keep hearing these voices. We have to put an end to them.
Boycott the voice.
Boycott the author.
Boycott the book.
Boycott the movie.
Boycott Me Before You.