I want to talk about suicide and depression. Obviously, they are related because happy people don’t commit suicide. And lately it seems like either everyone is talking about it or nobody is talking about it. Between the recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade (Valentine), it seems like everyone is an expert on depressive disorder or willing to be an open ear for someone who has it. However, nobody is fessing up and raising their hands to admit they have it. I’ll do it. I get bouts of depression. I have battled with it my whole life. I have had body/mind issues, family issues, job related problems, and chemical ones. As a daughter of an alcoholic and drug addict, I found it easy in my youth to turn to hard drugs, dangerous relationships, and alcohol to soothe my aching heart and confusing thoughts that drowned my mind. There were times when I completely lost myself and everything I believed in. I would look in the mirror and not know who I was or what my life was turning into. I would cry, as I am now, just thinking about my pain and not knowing what to do with it.
Pain isn’t something you can hand to someone and share, but it can still be talked about. Pain isn’t something you can describe like a book or a thought. It is more like a sunset. It can look like something colorful, big, and bold, like a spoonful of rainbow sherbet. But what you see can be an illusion, a cover. It is temporary, a veil for a universe hidden beyond the colorful picture painted in the sky. Black holes and exploding stars fill space beyond the sunset and it is scary and unknown, like the mind of a stranger, and sometimes ourselves. Pain is often covered and hidden, beyond what we are willing to share, or know how to.
There is more going on in our heads than we can begin to understand. We should not have to deal with it alone. When we are sad, lost, and lonely we are told that we need to slap a smile on it and buck up. Having to hide pain and sadness when we need to share it to feel loved and accepted is wrong. The need for love and acceptance is as important as water and air to someone who is depressed.
We live in a time where social media rules and whomever has the most followers is the Queen. Do you know what gets followers? Smiles, white space, and pretty pictures. That is not real life for most people. It can take a lifetime to master emotion and to become fully realized in who we are as a person and our place on this planet. Most of us will never get that chance because we are snuffed as failures when we display our feelings as if it were a weakness. Like the skin of a snake we are supposed to shed it and just forget it.
I recently saw a meme on Facebook that compared the compassion of society for two celebrities who died of suicide to that given to numerous military personnel who commit suicide every day. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the pain of one person to another and to pretend that we understand the differences between the two subjects. Celebrities are no different than a soldier, a mom, a police officer, or anybody when it comes to the inner workings of depression. The money of a rich celebrity does not lessen the pain when they are suffering. The old saying stands true that money does not buy happiness. When a celebrity suffers enough that they turn to suicide as an escape it reminds the public and fans that even someone as big as Marilyn Monroe, Bourdain, and Kate Spade, are humans and that we have more in common than it seems. When a celebrity dies like that it gives us perspective into their lives, that glitz and glamour, and banks full of money cannot heal suffering not properly addressed.
I have talked with many fellow moms who feel lost. Not only lost, but completely alone and not sure who they are. Somedays, they say, it’s like they must pretend to be someone they aren’t or pretend that they are stronger than they are so that they don’t fall apart. Between body changes, weight related stress, and not feeling like they have support to be able to be an individual outside of being a mom, there is a lot of pressure on women raising families. Women now are told that they should be stay at home moms, provide for their families, stop nursing when society says you should, if you can’t or don’t nurse your babies you’re a bad mom, give everything to your kids and family, look like an Instagram model, but don’t work out too much or you’re neglecting your babies. There is a constant battle waging about what is right and wrong for moms and their decisions in raising their kids. It is no wonder that moms get depressed or that they are told to get help for things like post-partum depression, but often don’t feel strong or empowered enough to recognize signs of having it.
Depression and Suicide are not things we should be debating over; who is sadder, who shouldn’t be sad, or who should get the most help with it. Sadness is the great equalizer. Everyone feels it. As a people, I hope that we move toward being more open about how it feels and what it means to be depressed. Depression isn’t the final step before suicide. Nor should suicide be the first step for someone to start talking about it. It’s never too early to start talking about depression after someone has died, it only means it was too late for that person and their family. That battle was lost for them, but the war for many more can still be won. Let’s move toward helping each other and recognize pain in those we love, before dying and losing them becomes an option.
I know that there are times I feel sad for no reason, like I am being crazy, and that I should just get over it and move on. But when I am crying myself to sleep and I feel like nobody understands me, there are reasons, and it’s okay to feel like that, as long as I recognize it and get help for it. I am trying to make my business a success so that I can retire myself and my husband early. I have 3 children, who I am trying to raise as intelligent, wise, respectful, and productive members of society. I must try to give them all the love in the world so that they don’t have to look outside our family for it at the same time as needing to properly discipline them and not completely screw them up. I need to be a strong and loving woman so that my husband can look to me for support and comfort when he needs it. I need to preserve who I am so that one day when my kids have moved out and I’m empty nesting I don’t have to go looking for myself again or drown in my emptiness. I must keep my mind sharp so that I don’t have to worry about falling prey to Alzheimer’s as the older women in my family tend to do. I should try to be as “beautiful” as society says I need to be and not let myself go. Pressure. SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. Not only on myself, but from myself.
There is a lot of stress on us to be something we are told to be or that we think we should be. Stress is not the only factor that leads to depression. Chemical imbalance, family dependency, job status, geographic location, finances, family roles and more can lead to the inability to control the depth of suffering that we can find ourselves struggling with.
Instead of suffering alone, I hope that more people are willing to raise their hands and say that they too suffer and understand that it’s normal to be sad, and that it’s okay to get help. Happiness is #goals, obviously, but there is nothing wrong with talking about our emotions or asking for help. I hope that people not only offer an open door and hot coffee to those they love or perfect strangers that needs it, but that they too are willing to say, ‘I understand, because I’ve been there too’.
If you don’t have anyone close to talk to, please go to https://afsp.org or Call 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 they are available 24 hours a day. You are not alone! If you feel more comfortable talking to someone like myself, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond as soon as possible.
If you choose to, please comment or email me your story and we can connect through our experiences. We are all humans, and we need each other, more now than ever.