I find that in my old age (this very ripe old age of 28, guys, seriously), I get really stirred up about things I read online. Everything. I read a stupid Facebook status and I just think about how dumb civilization is (like me, for getting worked up over a Facebook status).
So I’ve been reading all these Robin Williams articles and debates about depression and I’m worked up about it. I can’t say I’m sad for Robin Williams. I’m an ER nurse. I separate my feelings from what is happening on a daily basis and while I have learned over the years how to empathize with my patients and actually do feel for them, I just can’t feel for the death of an actor. It’s just not in my character. It is a sad situation, but I’m not sad about it.
What is more sad, to me, is to call suicide selfish. It’s hypocritical. What is selfish is to expect a person that is so miserable in their own life to live for somebody else.
I brought a little peace to myself yesterday (you know, when Facebook got me all worked up!) by reminding myself that ignorance here is a good thing. Reading people think that suicide is selfish is ignorant of them and it’s good to be ignorant to how serious depression is. These are people who think that talking about it or medication or prayer will somehow fix depression! How amazing! Because suicidal people have never thought of that.
The thing about depression is that most people (not all) don’t want to talk about it. Here’s the thing- a lot of depressed people actually have nothing to be depressed about. Nothing. So to admit to others that you’re depressed over basically nothing is embarrassing because people don’t actually understand depression. To say to somebody, “My boyfriend broke up with me and I want to kill myself” and be serious about it is really embarrassing and it is probably one of the hardest things I can imagine saying to somebody. And you feel so alone that you think that even if you tell your friends, they won’t react how you need them to and then you’ll feel even more alone! What if they just don’t get it? Or what if they act like you’re broken because you told them and then you’re that depressed friend? And prayer, well, maybe prayer is magical, but I just find it hard to believe that all those people who have committed suicide were NOT religious and that NONE of them tried prayer. Also, medication? I never wanted to be on it. Ever. Not only that, but I couldn’t even tell my therapists about how depressed I was when I was suicidal because I literally could not talk about it. I would go to therapy and skip telling her 90% of the important stuff because I was too embarrassed by it. So to actually treat me wouldn’t have been easy. And then I would just quit going cause it was a waste of time.
I’m glad that people who think suicide is selfish didn’t spend years waking up in the morning (if you even slept) wanting to be dead. I’m glad they didn’t hold a gun to their chest just wanting to pull the trigger. I’m glad they didn’t cry themselves to sleep for years. I’m glad they didn’t think about what drugs they could overdose on and that they didn’t write their families letters to let them know how much they loved them and how sorry they were. I’m glad that they didn’t feel so isolated, despite being surrounded by people. I’m glad they didn’t try to find their happiness in a relationship or in a plethora or one night stands. I’m glad they didn’t lose 15% of their bodyweight because they had no appetite at all. I’m glad they didn’t go through every day not wanting to suffer anymore. I’m glad those people have absolutely no idea how draining it is to live your life just so that somebody else didn’t suffer when you were gone and how angry it makes you that you are living just so somebody else doesn’t have to be sad that you killed yourself.
I spent years not wanting to live. Years. I am only alive because when I was in high school, I saw my best friend’s sister die. When we were walking out of the hospital after she died, her mom was holding onto her husband and telling him that she had to go back to see her one more time, and her husband kept telling her that she was gone and that she couldn’t. It was the most horrible thing I’ve seen- to see a mother lose a child. I couldn’t imagine putting my own mother through that, so I never did.
Although I’m not depressed now, I’d be lying to say that I’m glad I never killed myself. I do enjoy my life. I love my husband. My job is decent. I love traveling and I’m glad to be where I am. But if I was dead, I wouldn’t know the difference. And there are still times where depression does get a hold of me and I struggle with it. And it is absolutely terrifying to have that happen because I know how terrible it can get. Thankfully, it is not my life all the time anymore. It’s a small percentage, but it’s still there. It still causes problems in my marriage at times. I will never, ever forget what it was like to want to end my life.
For those that have, it wasn’t selfish. Yes, those people were loved and left somebody behind and I’m sure it was difficult for those left behind… But that agony that they now have in their lives, that’s only a glimpse of what a suicidal person felt.
And for a nice, light article about depression, I happened to love this article: 5 Facts Everyone Gets Wrong About Depression
Side note: I still can’t talk about this in person. I still can’t tell people that I used to be suicidal. I actually had a conversation with Crista once (one of my best friends who didn’t know me back in my horrible years) about our mutual friend who killed himself and I couldn’t even say it then. But nobody I know in person reads this and if they do, they don’t tell me, so it’s not as hard to just type these words out.