Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Don’t even talk to me if you’ve never known anyone who’s been depressed, let alone offed themselves. Or thought of it yourself. Sadly, I’ve had an uncle hang himself at 93, a friend blow his brains out at 19. My sister’s brother-in-law hung himself (I think he was 19 too.) And the kicker of all kickers, I have a 93 year old friend currently whose husband and both her children–sons–shot themselves in the head.
Of course my favorite question about my uncle’s suicide: Was he depressed? Well, duh. I want to get sarcastically snotty and say, ‘of course not; he thought he’d do something different that day!’ But I don’t.
One of the most gut-wrenching suicides I’ve ever heard was a friend’s friend who, after surviving the HOLOCAUST, came to America, got married, had 2 children, built a professional life and, at some point, was getting a divorce. He was at risk of losing custody of his children so he did a sabbatical to ISRAEL and killed himself there! What?
I’ve been suicidal myself, although not recently. Once you believe in Karma, what on earth would be the freakin’ point of killing yourself? When you think there’s one continuous life and you really only end the body in one incarnation, you realize you’ll just have to pick up where you “left off” the last time. There are so many veterans who have killed themselves, unable to stop the torment in their PTSD heads, it’s heartbreaking. Karma or no, it becomes an act of desperation, regardless.
And don’t even get me started on the Catholic belief that it’s sinful to take your own life, that you’ll go to hell. Suicides are already in hell before ever throwing the rope or pulling the trigger.
My Depression: A Picture Book
There’s an amazing book that jumped out at me while in the library just today: “My Depression” by Elizabeth Swados. She talks about the chemical imbalance issue, among other issues, which is real enough. Both her mother and brother offed themselves and she’s had a cyclic depressive adult life of her own. Her book is quite amazing, really. A Picture Book for Big People. Her writing and her graphics are phenomenally accurate. If you’ve ever been depressed you’ll know what I mean.
I’ve been working on a therapeutic writing program lately for people who have endured trauma of one kind or another, a topic I’m intimately familiar with. Writing stuff out definitely helps, I think, expressive writing in particular. And certainly visual and musical art helps, if you can survive the criticism, which depressives are quite vulnerable to from the get-go. Yet Swado’s book is so insightful, certainly in its grisly accurate detail of the state. But more importantly, and astonishingly, remarkably, it’s hopeful–something depressives find in short supply.
Marianne Williamson changed her life after her “nervous breakdown” with the Course in Miracles. The Course helps too. I’ve been practicing the lessons again recently and for the 3rd time. Some of us seem to be slow learners, spiritually speaking. Anyone who has not endured “The Dark Night of the Soul” will not know what I’m talking about here. They would not find humorous “it’s always darkest before it goes pitch black!”
But back to Elizabeth Swados’s book. There’s a part where she lists out why she feels depressed. It’s creatively extensive, a wacky ride for sure, yet one I can identify with. She draws herself (or others) captioning tormenting bubble thoughts with one series of her mother and brother’s bubbles that say “You couldn’t keep me alive?”
But Of Course There’s So Much More.
I’ve read most of St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle” where she describes herself as a worm! While I hate to compare myself to a saint, I feel her self-loathing and self-pity and powerfully so. Many saints in fact have had horrible and hellish interior experiences. Today we would call this “hitting bottom.” Ironically, I can identify with this which actually gives me some sort of perverse comfort. But part of what the Saint’s say, and Marianne as well, is also (in brief) you just haven’t lived until you’ve “died” — that would be surrendering the ego–A HUGE and misunderstand element of the human psyche if there ever was one, not to mention an agonizingly difficult process to transcend.
Anyway, with the World Suicide Prevention Day having come and gone, I just thought I’d remind folks of how difficult some individual’s interior worlds are, but that there just might be hope, dare I say a kind of salvation that glimmers, for so many others.