Reading about or hearing the stories of people who are or who once fought with depression makes me remember my own dark days. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that I was once that far down, that close to the bottom, to ever consider letting go of life. But in that state of mind, one is simply not letting go of life; no, it’s much more focused than that. It’s more about relieving one’s pain, it’s to stop the hurt of depression that leads them to commit suicide.
When I talk about the “hurt” or the “pain” of depression I am referring to both the physical pain that we feel and also the mental pain. The types of pain that make your body ache and tire easily and the mental hurt that gives way to sorrow, regret, guilt and memories that we would rather forget. For every victim the source of pain can be different, but the singular truth is that we all feel the pain the same way, it affects our lives in a similar way.
At times, I wish that I could reveal all the answers that all the people who suffer from depression are seeking. The trouble with that is the difference in what we believe to be worthwhile in life. We all want different things, we all have different aspirations, to attain different goals throughout life. So it’s hard to put everyone into one category and tell them that this is how you can be saved from depression, this is the key to unlocking the door to a better life. The only thing that I can do for you, is to give you hope and encouragement to find that key on your own. In truth, only you can save you from yourself.
There are many great people out there, both ready and willing, to aid you in whatever way they can. Whether that be financially or just for motivation, but these people cannot change you, they cannot alter your life in such a way that depression will simply vanish and you’ll be happy. That’s a miracle and those of that caliber rarely happen. I’m not here to discourage you from seeking help, by all means please do, but understand that there is no pill, no cure that will take depression off your shoulders. Is there treatment? Yes, but unless you fight, unless you have the desire to live, you will not attain freedom from depression.
I want this chapter to be a wake-up call to all those people out there, all those victims of depression who are laying in their beds, sitting at their tables, deep in thought, waiting for calls from someone who cares, driving in their cars expecting a sign from God that will instill in them the truth of their condition. A wake-up call that offers them the truth in the clarity of daylight, a wake-up call to the reality of life and the choices we have to make in order to get through it.
I’ve been on your end of things. I’ve heard all the terrible things that people who don’t understand depression and suicide like to say, all the guilt they like to give you, about how selfish you are for wanting to die and about how there’s so much to live for. I also know that if you are in a true state of depression, none of those things really matter enough to you or you simply do not believe them. I know that your hate for yourself and the disappointment in yourself is so far above those things that nothing can penetrate the wall of dissidence that you have created.
In your mind it’s easy for them to say those things because they are on the outside looking in, they simply do not understand. And you know what? You’re right, they don’t understand you and they cannot truly understand you until they experience it for themselves. But understand that they say those things and do those things because they love you and care about what happens to you. They will do whatever they have to in order for you to live. But in the end, only you have the power to make the choice to live or die by your own hands.
I’d give anything to have the gift to change people’s minds, to set right the wrongs of their hearts, but that power is too much for the hand’s of a human. What I can do is tell you who I was, where I was and how I became who I am now. I can hope and pray that you learn from the same lessons I did so that you don’t wander down the wrong road. No one deserves to suffer from depression, no one should ever have to commit suicide to find relief. There is no sanctuary in suicide.
I believe that every single victim can survive depression. I believe that every victim can learn to thrive after depression. They say that we never know the value of something until we realize that we may lose it. Depression can work that same way, for once we climb out of it we can look back and realize how very little of life we had grasped. When we come above the surface and see that life is so much more than what we knew, we can finally envision all the possibilities of life and that each is capable of being attained.
I know that it’s hard to wake up from the slumber of depression. For some people it can take just weeks, others months, years and some never awaken. For some people, the memories of the things that came to pass, whatever brought on their depression, is enough to drain away the value of their life. More than blood spills from their cuts, their chance at happiness bleeds away too.
For every victim the key to walking out of the darkness through the door of awakening is different. All that I can tell you is that it is out there, somewhere between your past and your future. Somewhere in the ashes of who you were and the figments of your dreams, smothered under heartache, sunken beneath your tears; the directions to find this key are written behind your eyelids.
My key was in my hand the whole time, it just took me a long time to realize it. Friends can help, loved ones can point you in the right direction, but only you can see the key and only you can use it to unlock the door.
I know that it is hard to understand now, but when you are able to open that door and walk back among the living you will be changed forever. You will not be the same person you were before. You will still know depression, you will not forget anything about it, but you will have a greater understanding of it, a way to grasp it and control it. Depression cannot be killed, it cannot be cured, but you can rise above it.
For those of you fighting depression, facing suicide, living in the chaos of this disease, I give you one last thought to ponder. I know you have heard others say that life is worth so much more, that God has purpose for you, that there are people out there who love you and want to help you. I know that you have heard others say that life is what you make of it, that there are no promises of a happier-ever-after or that you may never achieve anything in life. Whatever they have told you, forget it and remember this:
Life and death are a cycle, it begins and ends everyday. Some people who deserve to live are killed and people who deserve to die are granted a second chance at life. The value of a life is not what you attain in physical materials and nor is it the recognition you can be granted for doing great deeds. The value of a life is measured by the lives you change and the lives you save. As human beings we are bound only by our thoughts, for in thoughts, spawn ideas and in ideas we have the power to take or not to take action and change the course of human history.
In your hand lay the hope of human destiny, let not your desires, your faults, your memories, make you lose focus of that truth. If you want a purpose then let that be your purpose, if you want a dream to chase then let that be your dream, but remember that your mind is without borders. For to set limits to your life is to have already lost it to the pages of time.
Life is short and death will come soon enough, wish it no sooner. For when you pass all other life will continue, the birds will sing again, the clouds will float at the same speed and the world will continue because the sun will rise again. But the sunlight will feel different on the skin of those left behind and the hearts of those left behind will beat at a different pace, the minds of those left behind will be forever altered, the spirit of the youthful will be shaken and all the lives you could have changed and all the lives you could have saved will never get to know the joy of living. For when you take your own life, you are also taking the lives of others.
Part of this essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: