This article is about suicide. Maybe you don’t want to read it.
TL;DR: If you think that you or a friend suffer from depression, there are organisations that can help you. Here are some: AFSP (www.afsp.org), SAVE (www.save.org), or in Austria the ÖGS (www.suizidpraevention.at) or pro mente (www.promenteaustria.at). But you can also just go to your doctor and tell them. Don’t tell them you think about suicide if you don’t feel like telling them. Just tell them you feel depressed a lot. They will refer you and help you to be okay.
Today I learned that my friend that I had mentioned, didn’t die in an accident. They died from depression by taking their own life.
Now, it feels cliché to even mention that I wasn’t aware of their condition, especially since we weren’t close enough to talk about that. But I think this might be a good time to talk about depression in general.
As some know, I suffer from a chronic general depressive disorder that was diagnosed a couple of years back. I don’t keep it a secret, but of course it isn’t written on my business card.
Next to having had regular therapy sessions, I have been taking medication to help me deal with this condition for years now, and while it felt weird to be taking pills every day, the effects that they had on my life, my self worth, and how they allow me to lead a pretty normal life are just insane. It is important to mention though that I STILL have thoughts concerning suicide. I am able to get a grip on them pretty fast, but even swallowing pills every morning of every day for years now didn’t completely get rid of the feeling. I might have to take these meds for the rest of my life, but no amount of weird feelings would have me stop taking those anytime soon, especially since I do not show any side effects. Many are not as lucky.
The idea of taking pills a doctor perscribed to me is alienating to many people, because they don’t know how my life felt without the help of these pills. Especially alternative medicine dipshits often tell me that this isn’t healthy and that I should try some tea or something.
For the record, if you ever tell a person that tells you that they take medication that they shouldn’t take this medication, without having an M.D. title, I think there should be a special place at the bottom of the sea for you, next to people who don’t vaccinate their children, but this isn’t the point right now. If you want to cure your own necrosis with homeopathy, have fun, but leave me out of this bullshit.
While psychology and psychiatry are pretty much accepted socially by now, I still experience an aura of stigmatisation, not myself, but with other people with whom I’ve talked about this. This is part of why I am very open about my condition, because maybe this one conversation will help others to understand how to deal with this condition, or how to accept themselves if they recognize their own condition in my explanation.
Now, I am a writer, not a doctor. I am also neither a psychologist nor psychiatrist. But I am extremely lucky that I had the help of professionals to find out what my problem was, and helped me deal with it. Friends can help here too, by being there when you need them, but usually they can’t help you. Them offering assistance feels condecending to you. Their good words fake and shallow. They don’t understand how you feel. Not even in the cliché way where they might say “oh you don’t have it so bad” or comparable bullshit, but unless they are psychologically trained practitioners, they simply don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Sometimes even those who are trained sound to you like they don’t have a fucking clue.
One part of having to deal with depression is the thought that you could end all problems that you face rather easily. These don’t have to be actual physical or economic problems, they can just be a emptiness or a uselessness that you feel. But how hard can it be? Heck, you can even look up the most painless ways of taking your own life, and then all this shit is gone.
I can’t even say I’d blame someone for going down that road. I have a feeling that I am quite lucky that I didn’t. I contemplated, at least in abstract ways, whether I would be better off not being alive. Or not having been born. I can’t remember the first time I actually thought about killing myself. Heck, some days it still feels like a good solution.
If it were a fully rational decision, you could argue against it. You could tell yourself that you have things to live for. That you don’t wanna ruin christmas or a bathtub. That you didn’t ever have anal sex and totally should wait for that to happen first. And sometimes people will tell you that you have so much to live for. Seriously. As if you wouldn’t know that donuts are yummy, making love is great, and the feeling when you wake up at night and realize you have still a couple of hours until your alarm goes off.
Imagine having a cold. And your friends would tell you “did you ever try to not cough and sneeze all the time?” Thinking about suicide is part of many depressive disorders. So much so that it is even mentioned as a statistically relevant side effect of most antidepressants (And if you are one of those people who use that as an argument against antidepressants, there’s a pineapple right next to Spongebob’s reserved for you). Do you think, do you actually think that if you could instead masturbate, by choice, you’d waste one second thinking about suicide? Seriously?
Yesterday I said that I wished my friend would have had more time. Today I don’t know. Maybe they had had too much already. I would’ve wanted for them to be well. And to be happy. As I would for all of my friends. This one in particular actually had doctors, and a supportive family, and friends. And they still made the choice to end.
Dawkins once wrote, in “Unweaving the Rainbow”:
»We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?«
To me, this quote is calming. Reassuring.
For me, my friends life seemed very well worth living. But then from time to time my own doesn’t. So who the fuck am I to say anything in that matter? They got what they wanted. They now have the peace that they couldn’t find alive, the many hands reaching out just didn’t get through the mist.
If they had died of cancer I wouldn’t feel like I should have invented some magical anti-metastases cream more quickly. For survivors it is important to remember: It’s not your fault. You tried hard enough. You did what you could.
The problem is that ending your own life takes your cognitive and physical faculties. You can’t save everyone. And some maybe can’t be saved. Even if you could have known, and I don’t think so, there ultimately was nothing to do. As with every sickness, there was a battle, a kind of immune system failing, and now there is sadness.
Of course you wanted more. People always do. They eat too much chocolate. They fuck their private parts raw. They want more of what was good. So you wanted more time. More conversations. One more song. One more night. One more day. One more secret.
You can no longer help this one person. But you can help those left behind. You can help other people. There are organisations like the AFSP (www.afsp.org), SAVE (www.save.org), or in Austria the ÖGS (www.suizidpraevention.at) or pro mente (www.promenteaustria.at).
You can refer people to them. But just as with other illnesses, they can all be fought, but not all can be healed.