A couple of weeks ago a close relative took her own life. It was an unexpected shock. She was fifty-three years old. She, as it is with many people, suffered in silence from depression.
Many people who are depressed are afraid that expressing their feelings may appear to others to be weak. Some are afraid of overburdening others. As it is difficult to be sure of what she was feeling at the time, as she did not leave a note, her face surely did not express the tumultuous feelings she was keeping inside. As a matter of fact, to see her was to see someone who had been not just an inspiration to me but to many.
Growing up, spending summers with her, it had been an honor to see her progress educationally, to see her fall in love, get married – she was in the healthcare field – where she cared most for others. As those who are depressed, perhaps she cared more for others than for herself – always seemingly happy. She was known for expressing, her strong wit and intelligence on her Facebook page.
As it was devastating to her family, friends, and community and to others, we are left to make sense of the “wound that still lays open and unhealed”. The first question one would ask would seem like the most important one, “Why”? However the most important question we as a community should ask is, “How”? How can we make sure that our loved ones are protected? How can we make sure that we look for signs in my child or even their friends that would indicate that they are in trouble?
How? Well as mentioned earlier, the signs are not always evident. There are feelings that are strong and not so strong. There are days that are bad and not so bad. A part of hiding depression is avoiding family and friends, social activities, a change in appetite, habits (such as sleep) etc. These are all indications but not necessarily tall-tale signs that something is wrong.
People who suffer from depression in a sense are wearing a mask that they only share with a few or with none at all. Although my beloved aunt had a really bad day had she lived one more minute, hour, day etc., perhaps she would have changed her plans but that is not what is important now. What is important is to ensure that those who have similar feelings feel safe to share those feelings, whether they share in a note, the spoken word or a shared word – Please just tell someone – tell anyone.
Please feel free to comment on how we can aid in implementing change in the mental health system so that those who suffer from depression don’t feel it is easier to commit suicide or homicide but know that there are better alternatives. Please see the following article that may be helpful in such a search: http://unsolicitedtruth.com/2015/07/10/my-mothers-suicide/.