WARNING: this is a thought piece, and the opinions within this article may not reflect the views of Mirage as a whole. They may contain triggering content, and you’ve been warned. Disagree? Write a well thought out response to this without insulting the other author, remembering to be confident with a potential outcome that makes the world better and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
This topic is a hard one to talk about. Not just because mental health and awareness is still a taboo subject, although I don’t think that it should be. If we talked about depression and suicide openly and without negative stereotypes, then maybe the number of suicides a year would drop. That is my goal. This topic is a hard one to talk about, because it hits so close to home for me. But that’s why I have to include it.
In May 2018, two people close to me took their own lives within six days of each other. On Monday, May 7th, my mother had to inform me that my father had killed himself. Even though their relationship wasn’t stellar, and my own relationship with my father was complicated, it tore the both of us apart. We had the insanely difficult task of telling the rest of the family, and the hardest job of arranging his funeral – something no 19-year-old should have to do. On Sunday, May 13th, news started spreading on social media that a girl I used to work with and occasionally went clubbing with, a girl who I looked up to in so many ways, had also decided to end her life. It’s safe to say that was the hardest week I have ever experienced.
I have been on both sides of the spectrum. In high school, I spent a lot of my time writing poems about suicide and thinking it would be better if I were to end my life. I didn’t know what would come afterwards, but I thought that surely it would be better than the pain I was enduring while alive. But I was lucky. I had a good support system, I started seeing a psychologist, and I got better. I started looking forward to waking up in the morning. I set myself goals, and I let my passions drive me to a happier place. I wish everyone struggling with a mental illness was as lucky as I was.
Sometimes, I still relapse. There are days when getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing to do. On my good days, the tasks seem easier. Get up, get ready, go to work or be productive, eat, watch a movie, get ready for bed, then sleep. Seven ‘tasks’ will get me through the day. On a bad day, the tasks seem longer. Wake up, check my phone, have a shower, get dressed, get on the bus, get on the train, walk into work. That’s seven ‘tasks’ just to get to what on a good day would be the third. Each task takes a specific amount of energy. And on a bad day, just getting to work is an effort.
On a terrible day, the tasks are even more difficult. Wake up, turn off alarm, check my phone, get out of bed, have a shower, get dressed, go downstairs. Seven ‘tasks’ before I even leave the house. And I wonder why I am already drained.
My theory is, that for people like my father and my friend, the tasks get too difficult, and they can no longer live the way that they used to, and they don’t understand why. And then, they don’t ask for help. Instead of asking someone why they feel this way, and working on strategies to feel happier, they decide it would be easier to end it all. To stop trying at all. And that breaks my heart.
There is nothing wrong with feeling this way. There is nothing wrong with depression, or bipolar disorder, or anxiety, or any other mental illness that makes someone want to end their life. However, feeling suicidal is not an organic feeling, but it is one that can be helped. There are so many organisations now dedicated to helping people like us stay alive. Organisations like the Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue, R U OK, and Headspace, among so many others, are there to help people overcome their own minds and their own darkest thoughts. The thoughts that people have are often scary, and these organisations are specifically there to help people get through those times in their lives when just existing seems like one Hell of an effort. If you are struggling with your mental health, I urge you to please speak to someone. Don’t stay silent. Be open. And try your absolute hardest to heal.
I have learnt that bottling up emotions is the entirely wrong way to go about life. While we may think that by keeping all of these complicated feelings to ourselves, we are sparing other people the hassle of having to deal with us, we are also making it so much worse for ourselves, and at the end of the day, a lot of people would rather us to just speak up, and get better, and to return to what society deems as ‘normal’. But if this helps you to get back on track, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I once talked to a girl who talked herself out of suicide because there was a Netflix show she hadn’t finished. I once talked to a boy who stayed alive because he was the one who fed the dog every night, and he thought that if he were to die, then his family might not remember to feed the dog. Another boy stayed alive because he hadn’t finished reading the Lord of the Rings series. Whatever keeps you alive – hold onto it. And once that’s finished, find something else to hold onto. No matter how small or seemingly meaningless it may feel – if it keeps you alive, then it is so important.
Although I wish that the people we have lost stayed alive for us, I wish more that they had stayed alive for themselves, to know that things do improve, and even though the world is sometimes a shitty place, it isn’t always. Happiness isn’t always a choice, but it can be a destination.