**CAUTION: TRIGGER WARNING**
This has to be one of the darkest pieces I’ve done. September is Suicide Awareness (and Prevention) Month. So in lieu of that, I wanted to do a piece reflecting that.
I’ve never talked about it before but I feel like this is probably a good time as any to start. It’s not easy to come to terms with and it’s not easy to open up – especially since there’s a huge stigma surrounding not only death but also mental health in general. No one wants to talk about it, and I believe that this is probably why so many lives are lost to suicide each year.
Anyway, while I’ve never attempted suicide and can say that I’ve always had a healthy appreciation of life, when I started suffering from depression (which had started a few years ago), all that changed. Suddenly, life was no longer enjoyable and it was hard to even try to get up and get dressed. For a long time, I was often angry and most of the time, the anger was irrational and unfathomable. When confronted with the knowledge that I might be suffering from depression, I tried to laugh it off and deny it.
Last year, the depression finally hit me the hardest and caught up with me. Between two jobs where the service I provide is often thankless, I was at the end of my patience and couldn’t see what was so great about living. I felt like a rubber band that had been stretched so often and so much that I’ve lost my elasticity. I started developing what psychologists refer to as “passive suicidal thoughts” where instead of actively seeking out death or planning suicide attempts, I wanted instead to just die or to just disappear. After all, I believed, no one would care if I did go away, right?
Near the end of 2014, as I went to work daily, I often had to choke back the tears and frustration I was feeling and had to work really hard at passing off as normal. In fact, no one probably really noticed anything was wrong except my husband. That’s because depression hides within its victims. The happiest person could be the most depressed person. I was that “happy” person. In reality, I wished for death daily.
The feeling followed me through to the new year. Despite making a decision to make changes in my life in order to restore some semblance of normalcy, I still felt hollow, angry, sad and hopeless. When my husband was finally able to convince me to go seek professional help, I was reluctant. I didn’t see any benefit to talking to a complete stranger. I did go anyway because anyone who knows my husband will know that he is persistent. I went just so that he could stop asking me if I’ve made an appointment yet. When I was diagnosed with mild anxiety and moderate depression, I was relieved because now I can say for certain that I wasn’t imagining my problems.
Since starting therapy in April, my suicidal thoughts have decreased drastically because my therapist was able to help me flesh out my frustrations and anger. It’s been 17 sessions and I can say for certain that I have seen improvement in my mental well being. Though I still struggle with suicidal thoughts, I’m still thankful that I’m taking the steps toward recovery. Sure, I may have had an awful day yesterday which drove me to want to hurt myself but at least now, I realize where the suicidal thoughts are originating from which helps me diffuse the situation – or at the very least, keep going.
If you’ve read this far, I don’t want your pity. I don’t want the kind of looks you’d give to a wounded puppy. I would want instead, for you to reach out to someone you think might be suffering in silence. We, depression sufferers, are good at hiding our woes because we don’t want to burden others. I would like for you to educate yourself to the signs of suicide and be aware of your friends and loved ones’ state of mind. All it takes for someone to come off the ledge of a bridge/building, to put down the knife/razor blade, to throw away the sleeping pills, to untie the rope strung up in the ceiling is for someone to say, “Hey, are you okay? Can we talk about it?” I want people to know that suicide is an acute and temporary feeling. Once a person’s stressor goes away, they often would not revisit the thought of killing themselves. So if you manage to help someone out of that situation, chances are, you’ve given them a new lease on life.
As for me, I’ll keep going. I can’t promise I won’t think about killing myself, but I can promise that I will do whatever it takes to keep going. And don’t worry about me. My therapist is keeping an eye on my mental health and has assured me that he is there for me should I find myself in a situation where I could hurt myself. Not everyone has that luxury though, so if you can, go out there and be that person for someone.
For more info, here are some helpful links you could pass along:
– International list of Suicide Prevention Hotlines: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html