What does a day of awareness really mean? Does it mean we are supposed to talk about it, about suicide? One of the greatest losses of our flawed life? Does it mean we are supposed to be reminded of those we have or have almost lost? Is it a day to exploit others’ pain so you can seem deep and emotional?
To me it’s a day to tell people. Tell people what I know about suicide and depression. What I know from losing my uncle to it, having a best friend with bipolar disorder, and working in an acute mental health hospital where I meet kids and adults everyday who want to end their lives.
I want to tell people that it is not selfish. People who commit suicide do it from a place of pain and desperation. They do it because a deep heartbreak, loss, or emptiness. Can you imagine feeling so helpless and hopeless that you go months with the background thought of “It’d be easier if I were dead”? People do this because they get to a point where they cannot handle everyday life.
I want to tell people that it is not a joke. Telling me that you want to kill yourself because you had a bad day at work or have to write a five-page paper? Not fucking funny. That’s why people don’t take this issue seriously, because to so many people it’s a joke. I know that this isn’t something you can stop saying cold turkey, but its something to think about. Would this joke be funny to tell someone who lays in bed staring at a handful of pills? Would this be funny to tell someone who lost their father to suicide?
I want to tell people that it breaks my heart. I have never felt a deeper sadness than learning my uncle took his own life. I felt it in my very core after talking to a 14-year-old, who is so sad they can’t even look me in the eye, about how they tried to end their life. Even though I know I shouldn’t take work home with me, I can’t help but wonder if some patients made it past their next birthday.
I want to tell people it affects you. Everyone knows or loves someone who has been depressed, you just might not know it yet. Depression is rampant in our society. Perhaps it doesn’t affect someone you know directly, but it might affect their mom, brother, aunt, or someone else in their life. This is something that took me about 20 years of life to realize.
I want to tell people it’s not their fault. People do not choose or want to be depressed. No one wants to make their own life more difficult with an at times crippling disability. Depression is an illness of the brain; it is caused by a chemical imbalance, and it can be triggered by uncontrolled circumstances, loss, change, or the season. I am not a scientist, so I will not pretend to know completely how depression works in the brain, but there are many education videos and articles that can help further understanding.
I want tell people there are many different types. Depression is not a one size fits all. Depression occurs in many different ways and because of many different things. Here is a list of some of the depressive diagnoses:
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
- Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood
I want to tell people it’s not just the depression, it’s the anxiety too. Although these two things are different, they often come together. I have met very few patients in my time who do not suffer form anxiety as well as depression. People can suffer from such extreme anxiety that even doing simple everyday tasks like driving, talking to a stranger, and ordering food can become entirely emotionally and mentally taxing.
But I also want to tell people that I don’t know everything. I am not a doctor. I am young, I haven’t lived through all the experience others had had, but I would say I have my fair share. I cannot pretend to have a complete knowledge about this experience. I feel that it is always on my heart to share what I know and do what I can to make any type of difference.
I like the idea of an awareness day, especially when it’s accompanied by action. But I just think it’s importance to actually spread knowledge and talk about these difficult topics, not just have a day with their title. [tc-mark-