There is an awful inevitability hanging over the lives of many people. I was reminded of this yesterday when I heard about Robin Williams suicide. I was reminded last year when I read about the suicide of Ned Vizzini and I am reminded of it every time I hear of someone else who has taken their own life.
For many people depression is a tangible thing that you can touch, feel, smell. The bad taste at the back of your throat, the whisper in your ear. It takes on an ever changing form that slides in and out of your life, without cause or invitation, but it never leaves you completely. It watches over your shoulder while you read to your children. It pulls you backwards as you try to leave the house, it drags you downwards. No matter how hard you kick and scream and fight, sometimes it’s so exhausting battling it day after day, it’s easier just to open up your arms and allow it to embrace you.
Those who have never had depression touch their lives find it difficult to understand. They wonder why the depressed can’t just be happy. Often those with depression are highly accomplished in their careers. They have financial security, physical health, friends & family – all the trappings we consider necessary for happiness. Why can’t these people just be happy? Because depression is not a simple state of unhappiness. You have no more control over it than you would a chronic physical disease. It is a cancer of the soul.
For some people they experience it once and fully recover. Others don’t suffer from depression again but loose a part of themselves and are changed forever. Then there are the people who never recover. Those who suffer from chronic depression, the ones who may become terminal. They have better days, they feel good from time to time, sometimes the medications work for a while and they feel almost well for a time. But it’s always there. Until one day the struggle becomes too much.
Suicide is not an ‘east escape’
The choice to commit suicide is often viewed as an escape from problems. The choice of the weak who could not cope, who didn’t have the backbone to face life and carry on. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who live with depression for many years are strong, they have to be. They get up in the morning and put on their outside persona. They look in the bathroom mirror and practice their happy face and when it’s just right they open up the door and go out into a world that doesn’t see or understand their pain. They walk through the day doing things for others, making those around them happy, meeting their responsibilities to the world. Inside they scream with pain but those on the outside never know.
Living with year after year of struggle, of pain, takes great strength of character, great physical strength and takes an unimaginable toll. When someone commits suicide they are not a coward quitting, taking the easy way out, they are a person of great strength who has fought a monstrous disease for so long that the pain has become to much to live with any longer. They are a great loss and I hope that one day there will be a way to alleviate that pain and fight the disease. I hope that we no longer have to lose people to a slow, painful killer that much of the world doesn’t understand.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."