Why am I writing this for the whole world to read?
Depression – suicide – anxiety – grief. They are all words that are used daily.
Most of us know someone who is suffering from depression in one form or another. Some of us have been the ones who have been left behind after a loved one killed themselves. That hole that is left – the guilt – the questions – the what ifs - haunt and hound us for the rest of our days.
We shy away or run away from those people who we perceive as having problems and are ‘always sad or down’. We fumble with our feelings – our arms hang limp at our sides because we don’t want to be drawn in or do the wrong thing. Doing the wrong thing is the bigger of those two – because most of us don’t know how to deal with someone who is suffering.
How do we deal with someone who cries freely in front of us? What do we do with someone who stands with shoulders slumped forward and eyes that betray pain and loss and angst? What do we do with someone who isn’t putting on a front or a good show for us? In the end it is just easier to run – to stay away – to not call – to not reach out.
In 1998 I had a complete and total mental breakdown. I didn’t know my own name let alone those of anyone around me. I cried continuously. I wrung my hands until they were raw. My mind was that of a child – afraid of everything. And I was suicidal.
Two people who loved me with all of their hearts took me to the hospital and watched as they put me into a psyche ward. They left crying.
Nine months later, when they let me go home, they knew they had done the right thing. Even though they have felt guilty about it since then – they know they did the right thing. And I have thanked them for it – repeatedly.
They saved my life. Without that intervention I would be dead.
So although we don’t know how to help and would rather someone else did? You might be saving a life if you just reach out – literally – and take that suffering person’s hand and just hold it. Most of the time words aren’t necessary. It’s knowing that someone is trying. To know that you aren’t a leper – that people don’t find you repulsive because you are depressed – that someone wants to help – even just to listen. That is what matters.
You don’t have to try to cheer the person up. It is more than likely that you won’t be able to. And the words “Call me if you need me” – yes – they are nice to hear. But I won’t be calling you. I can’t. So call me. Come see me. Come sit with me. Come bring me a cup of tea. But don’t ask me to call you if I’m really down. When I’m really down and I’m standing in front of the tub with my razorblade in my hand – I’m not picking up the phone to have a chat with you. But if the doorbell rings and rings and rings – I’ll have to put down that razor and come and answer it so I will have peace later to slash my wrists.
Intervention. It’s the new word these days isn’t it? But it works. Just intervening in my suicidal thoughts will distract me long enough for it not to happen at that moment. Forcing yourself into my world and insuring that I know you care? That’s what works.
Because when you’re depressed – you have yourself convinced that no one cares – because you don’t even care about yourself. So why would others? When you’re depressed the hole is deep and dark. Sometimes it’s quiet in there. Sometimes there’s so much noise from all the voices zipping around inside your head that you can barely hear.
Why would I want to kill myself you ask? Why would I kill myself when there are so many people who love me? What about those I’m going to hurt when they find out I couldn’t take it anymore and killed myself?
Let me tell you a secret about that.
A person who kills themselves doesn’t care about those he leaves behind. Well – they do down deep. But it’s not about the other people. It’s about them. Their life has reached the point where nothing can help. They can’t see any other way then to end it. It’s not about how much others will hurt. It’s about how much they hurt. It’s too much. Too much!! They are surrounded by darkness and it is sucking them downwards. They can look out and see the shadowy figures of their loved ones – but they are shadows – fleeting shadows. And the voices that call to them are muffled. But their own voice is clear and concise and inside their head they can hear the words “Just end it. It will be easier. Sure it will hurt for just a little bit – but then it will be gone – forever. Every single thing will be gone forever and you won’t have to struggle any more. You won’t have to hurt any more.”
So you see – your guilt and anguish and sadness over a suicide victim is something that is not important anymore when a person kills themselves. Of course they know it will hurt someone – but that hurt doesn’t even come close to the hurts they are feeling inside. And at that time – it never will.
However – did you notice that I said guilt first over anguish and sadness? We all feel guilt don’t we? And we should. Because I’m telling you that most suicides can be prevented. Simply by someone reaching out – physically – and touching that person who feels that way. Holding their hand and caring. Simple caring. It hardly takes more than that to bring someone back from the edge of escape.
But in this world – we don’t touch – we don’t show a lot of emotion. We like to watch it on tv or on the big screen. But we don’t want people to think we are weak or emotional. So we let those people who are suffering slip away because we don’t want to get involved. We’re too busy. It’s safer to let someone else do it. Send them to a professional. That’s what they are there for isn’t it?
Shame on us. Shame on the world for running away from suffering - because every single one of us suffers in some way. And every single one of us knows that a touch or a word of caring – true caring – can help bring a ray of sunshine back into our sad world.
Depression is a spiralling hole down into the darkness. A little kindness and caring goes a long way in helping those people climb back out of that void. Reach out and hug someone who is hurting. Really hug them. Listen to them if they try to talk to you. Really listen to them. You can hear the words and see the anguish if you pay attention. Let them know that you care. Really care. And don’t worry about saying the ‘right words’ to them. There are no ‘right or wrong words’. It’s the caring that counts.
The show that we usually put on for others? It’s transparent to a person who is suffering. So make it real. It’s not hard people. It’s not rocket science either. You don’t have to be a ‘professional’ to help - in fact some ‘professionals’ make it worse.
Remember that song? “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand – make this world a better place if you can.” It works people. More than you’ll ever know if you don’t ever give it a try.
I hope my honesty can help others. By saying that I’ve been there and back and by letting them know the world can be a better and happier place for those of us who suffer from depression. Then I’ve reached out a hand and given someone hope – even a little bit – and I’ve let them know that they are not alone.
That is why I am willing to write about it and put it out there for the whole world to see. I am willing to open my heart and my arms and my ears and be there for others who need me. I'm willing to read the emails from those in the same boat and try and help. I'm very willing to try because even a little bit goes a long way.