Trigger warning: If you struggle with depression or suicide, please don’t read this post as it may be a trigger for you.
I feel on edge this week. News of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain is heart wrenching. Today I read a post on facebook about the importance of checking up on people even if they seem fine. Kate Spade talked to her father just hours before her death and seemed happy. Sometimes it seems that the solution to check in isn’t always the help a person needs.
I have such sad feelings about this topic. My brother committed suicide in 1995. No one knew he was even depressed. Mental illness wasn’t talked about as much back then, although the year before, Kurt Cobain took his life and that made headline news. But, it was still hush hush in most circles. We certainly didn’t discuss it in our family. Church people thought people took their life due to sin, Satan, or bad lyrics in music pulluting the mind. All are ridiculous assumptions but that didn’t stop their words from hurting my family a second time.
Twenty plus years later I still feel the monster beating at my door. My daughter struggles daily with depression. I hate how dark things get for her. And the battle to find solutions seem to only work in part. Being in church made things worse for her. She felt even less human. Christians still view depression as a sin issue. I am not sure she’d ever feel loved in a church setting.
I wake up often with anxiety and struggle with panic attacks. I know I can’t control everything. I fight so hard to get her help, to support her, to keep her from dying. Some days it feels like she is slipping away. Some days it is like she doesn’t have depression. I start to battle my own feelings of hopelessness. And other days I’m fine.
Reading about these celebrities makes my heart ache. My daughter says she doesn’t want to live her entire life with depression. She says she doesn’t want to be my age and still struggle with these thoughts. But I can’t guarantee she won’t. I can only tell her to focus on this day. Can I blame these celebrities for giving up when I see just how much my teen struggles? I wonder if someday I’ll be the one saying “I just talked to her. She seemed so happy.”
That thought kills me.
I know what it does to a family to bury one of their own, thinking if they could have just done more, things would have turned out better. I know what people say, what they think, and all the after effects of suicide. I know that those left behind struggle with their own hell.
The truth is that we can only do so much. And as hard as it is to realize, sometimes a person can live their whole life fighting a disease and will die. We see this with cancer or heart problems or other more acceptable forms of an illness. But with suicide, we try to place blame on the family or on the person who took their life. Maybe we should look at it another way.
If a person has cancer, should we blame it on them for dying? Is it the family’s fault for not doing enough? Or maybe, we can agree that it is the disease and it’s no one’s fault.
I will fight… I don’t want regrets or to say I could have done more. And I hope with help my daughter survives. But I also know the possibility remains that I will lose her. If celebrities have money and access to help, support, and services yet still die, we know that it isn’t that we should’ve done more. How can we fight against a person’s own mind and the darkness they become experts at hiding?
Sometimes some things are beyond our control. And that’s the hardest truth to embrace in this life. All we can do is try but the results are not in our hands.
With help, many people do survive and live wonderful lives but the tragic fact of suicide dampens this fact. I hold on to hope in the stories of countless people who fight and live and go on to bring light into this world because they have a perspective others lack. Depression sucks but I have hope in the people who fight it and are stronger for doing so. Their light and strength help us to keep fighting this deadly disease.