I came home from picking up Lucas at school today, and my mom met me in the kitchen with a very sober look on her face. She told me that she had just gotten done talking with her friend Theresa. I immediately asked what had happened, because talks with this woman usually result in a funny story, or my mom still on the phone for hours. But today, Theresa had news that her brother had killed himself by gunshot, her second brother to do so.
Winter is the darkest season of the month. It’s cold, it’s dreary, you’re forced inside for much longer hours, sometimes all day. For people with depression, winter is the season that is dreaded. Years ago, I went through my depression, and winter was pure hell. My house seemed like a dungeon. Nothing gave me hope. Everything was a burden or too much a of a hassle. Death seemed all around me. And I wished for it. I fantasized about what it would be like just to end it all. And seriously, the only thing stopping me was my fear of what would happen to my kids when I was gone. I know this is why many depressed mothers take their kids lives when they are suicidal, so that they haven’t abandoned them.
But the thing about people who are depressed and suicidal, they don’t ask for help. Partly it’s because they don’t want the attention on them. Partly it’s due to denial about there being a problem with them. Partly it’s because they don’t want anyone to stop them because they feel it’s the only way to end their pain. Reading stories in the paper recently about the teenage suicides that have taken place in our county, it took everyone by surprise. They never expected these kids to take such a turn. But there were always some clues. And yes, they’re easy to overlook.
At www.hopeline.com, they describe the bleakness of depression and why some turn to suicide in easy to understand terms:
“The bleakness of the landscape is unimaginable. It is as friendless and alien as a Dali painting. Ordinary concerns, such as work or friends, have no place here. Futility muffles thought; time elongates cruelly. Who is to blame for this situation? Those with depression think it must be them. Pointlessness and self-loathing govern them. So the natural final step is suicide. People with depression don’t kill themselves to frighten an errant boyfriend. They kill themselves because it is the obvious and right thing to do at that point. It is the only positive step they can think of.”
So what are the red flags that you might be depressed? Sometimes they are barely noticeable. Life seems uninteresting, bland, with no hope. Keeping in touch with friends is an effort, so you stop. Things you used to love to do, they just don’t do anything for you anymore. It almost seems pointless to get out of bed at all. You are more tired than anything, and everything seems to take extra effort. Just thinking about getting up off the couch and doing something leaves you feeling mentally exhausted. Your patience is worn thin, and you find yourself snapping. Or you just don’t react at all. You may want to cry all the time, or just feel like nothing. You’ve lost or gained a significant amount of weight. But food just doesn’t taste as good.
Or they’re big warning signs. Like you fantasize about death. You think about how it will be done. It consumes your thoughts. You may have already gotten the materials together….
Suicide is never the right answer. It seems that way, but it’s the end with no turning back. So many times when someone has taken their own life, many talk about if they had only known they would have helped. If anything, counseling through a therapist or faith counselor is your best option. Talking about your pain is the easiest way to relieve your pain. And if more steps need to be taken, there is someone there to help you through the process.
If someone you know is showing signs of withdrawing from life, please be there for them. Love your friends, your family, your neighbor by paying attention. My friend will never have her brother back. The pain that he has left behind is enormous. So many people are devastated by his loss, and it can not be overturned. Suicide is not the answer.
Someone else’s life may be hanging by the very string you are holding…..