Monday, 21 June 2010

Suicide is Painless

On this blog, I have explained a lot of the thinking involved in what has been the hellish and amazing journey through and hopefully out of my clinical depression. You will always hear me refer to it as "my depression" because it is completely intrinsic and can be lived through and overcome by just one person, and that is me. Aid is available and mostly welcomed but the final say in all of this is mine. This is a tug-of-war between My Depression and I.

Most battles are won by me, these days. However, the war wages on.

In this life, I am gifted with eternal optimism and unwavering confidence except when the chemicals in my brain decide they will make me feel something else and be someone else. There are people on this planet who may never see all the light and beauty in the world, for even one moment in their life. There are those who constantly doubt their worth, meaning and purpose. Some believe they have none of those things. That saddens me because from as far back as I can recall, I have always felt my life has meaning and that my existence is to add to the collective well-being of those around me. I am NOT only here to add to entropy.

This is a level of confidence that is not based in arrogance. In fact, arrogance is a lack of confidence that manifests as insecurity negated by outward superiority. True confidence is not pushing others down or even seeing people as being in a different sphere to you, but instead it is the ability to know who you are and be ok with whatever that is. That does not mean never growing and thinking you know all there is to know. Those who are "too cool for school" often aren't. Their facade of strength betrays their obvious weakness and self-awareness of their own flaws. Fractures in your character either define you or give you something to work towards fixing. If we were born perfect and all knowing, what fun would that be?

Be careful not to believe everything that those around you portray. In the end, life is a play as ol' Will proclaimed.

Now, on to that self-inflicted certainty.

When the path you walk is straight and narrow, there is no reason to doubt that it will always be so. The yellow bricks will endlessly shine, glisten and call to you to follow. Life is sunshine and frangipanis until the horizon and surely passed it. The best thing about happiness is that you forget that it ever wasn't there. Happiness is heroine for the soul. We seek it. We yearn for it. We will go out in to the world and do anything within our power to obtain it. I, like you, am a happiness junky.

Depressed people on bad days are junkies without a fix but they are so strung out that they can't even go out and mug someone to make the cost of recovery. It's a terrible analogy that I have used before. Depressed people often bitch slap me at the mention of this comparison but if you have truly felt that loss of control that comes with a down day then you will understand how it feels for your brain to control you and tell you what you will be doing. This exhibits as a 100% feeling of whatever your individually selected depressed emotion of choice is to be.

Imagine feeling sad. Of course, you can do that. Sad happens to everyone. Now turn up the sad ten fold and then another ten fold. Your sadness would be 3 on the Richter scale, while a seriously depressed person would be shaking Chile to rubble. This doesn't underestimate the severity of your feelings. Instead, I mean that if a normal people feels a tremor in their life then the magnitude of that in a depressed person's life will roll the Earth and move continents. Having felt both, I can vouch for the irrational and terrifying relativity of the latter.

The feelings may vary from time to time between sadness, loss, loneliness, emptiness, worthlessness and anything else a person can feel. The positive feelings can also be felt in the same way for people who are bi-polar but that is a post for another Sunday.

Whatever I feel when I am down, it is all I feel. Nothing else exists. There is no room for it. When you suffer extreme emotional trauma you can have a very similar reaction to severe physical trauma (a car crash for instance). The pain is enormous and overpowering. Your brain does the only thing it can to help you cope and to give it time to fix you. That often involves shutting down what isn't vital. Like a physical coma, you can experience what I can only describe as an emotional coma. You feel nothing. You are conscious though. You can interact, have all senses and move but your ability to feel emotions is dissociated. You are disconnected from who you are because you are so overwhelmed that you must be shut down to stop the awareness of suffering.

I have experienced this only a few times during my depression and those moments followed huge life stressors - like my ex-husband walking out on me, calling me to him and then telling me the world was a better place without me. This was at a time in my life when I was isolated and alone, without anyone to ground me. Alcohol never helped the situation either.

My blessing in this case is that my depression is referred to as behavioural and not chemical. This disorder was caused by a combination of abuse from my husband, environmental poisons like alcohol and social isolation (an effect of the abuse). These factors compounded to produce my slow degradation in to a severe depressive state. Unlike people who have chemical imbalances that cause their illness, mine is much easier to overcome. I am lucky... relatively.

The point of this whole post is to make people aware that the effect you have directly on the life of a depressed person is much more exaggerated than the same event enacted upon a healthy you. Empathy will never give you an inkling of what the explosive exaggeration of depression on what would be a normal reaction, may actually be.

The consequences are often drastic but not always visible until something awful like an attempt or successful suicide occurs.

Think twice before you ignore, attack, react negatively to or even bump in to a depressed soul. Tread carefully. They are more fragile than you may ever truly know, until it is too late.


Anonymous said...

"Death is not the opposite of life, it is the opposite of choice. Death is what you get when there are no more choices left to make."
A long time ago, a friend of mine committed suicide following a battle with schizophrenia and depression.
Years later when I read these lines I found myself thinking of him and realising that mental illness makes people unable to see the choices that remain.
While his death still makes me angry and sad, it was sudddenly something I was better able to understand.

Anonymous said...

Some people say suicide is such a selfish act. People are angry and hurt when someone chooses to take their own life. I used to think that too, but since being diagnosed with clinical depression, my views have changed. Some days those negative, irrational thoughts play on a continual loop. On full blast over and over and over... I am blessed to have a great support system that help me turn the volume down on those thoughts, but some people don't have that support and don't reach out for help. After almost 2yrs, medication & a heap of therapy I still have days where those thoughts rule. When that dark cloud washes over me, and no matter what I do i can't out run it. When you feel like there is no way out. I think I will always have those dangerous thoughts whispering to me. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they will go away. I can't imagine where I would be if I didn't have family,friends & good doctors to continually give me the positive support and medication needed to quiet the little crazy person that has crawled in, pitched a tent and made herself a comfortable home in my head. Now when I hear of someone committing suicide I feel so sad that they thought that was their only way out from the black hole. The only way to turn those thoughts off and find some peace. If you have never suffered from a mental illness you probably wouldn't understand. What's truly tragic about suicide is after you are gone people come out of the woodwork left and right saying how much they loved you, how much you meant to them etc.. Why don't people say those things to a person when they are alive? I feel such pain for the fact that some people leave this world never hearing that they are loved or not knowing how valued they really are. Don't wait till its too late to say such things. Even if you don't have depression you can never feel too much love around you. This is just my 2cents. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But if you take anything away from my ramblings, please if you need help ask for it! If you think you see someone struggling.. Dear god act on it! Don't wait till its too late. It can never hurt to hear how valued and loved you are. The simplest of caring gestures on your part could mean the world to someone else. -Robin xo

ScubaNurse said...

so so true.
I dont even describe my depression as sadness, but numbness.
It is an empty vacancy of all feeling, a lack of sensation of all else, a muffling of sound, a muting of others calls.
and a heavyness fills me so slowly I dont notice until I cannot lift it any longer.

I remember saying to my mum when I had my first bout "its not that I want to die... I just cant live."

Thanks again for your honesty.