You cannot be depressed-Then there was me
I did not realise that so soon after starting the blog, I would feel compelled to share a deeply personal struggle that has taken most of my adult life to overcome.
The apparent suicide of Charles Bennington came up in my Facebook feed a few times over the last days. I have not listened to his music so I can’t say that I reacted as his fans have reacted. However, the fact that he may have committed suicide was what caught my attention.
Ever since I was thirteen years old a line began to circulate in my head “anything to stop the pain”. I grew up in a home of controversies and contradictions. The details of that part of my story is irrelevant now but it was impactful enough at the time to cause me to overdose by the age of seventeen years old.
The overwhelming idea that life was not worth living had taken root and while having Savannah strengthened me to fight for her life; it was a long road before I believed whole heartedly that life was worth living. In fact, long after I was married to Michael and already a mother of three, I battled with the idea that I was loved, I was wanted and I was purposed by God.
I remember one night lying in a heap in Michael’s arms saying that I had this picture in my head that there was a bridge between happiness and I; and that I would get him and the children over it but I was not worthy of crossing. Having lived with sadness for a long time, I know that an instant spiritual cure is not always true for many people. The issue was never with God anyway. It was with people.
There were many people who were quick to judge my “choices” and who blatantly championed themselves about how they were better off than I was. I always thought it odd at how people engage in acts of kindness and generosity to the poor and the needy, yet often have no time or compassion for those who sit beside them who are so sad that they don’t see value in life.
Somehow, we have trained ourselves to think that the people with whom we fellowship alongside in our places of faith, our places of work and social circles are all nicely put together like we are and if they aren’t then it is not our problem. We offer quick, passionate words of advice based on aiming to fix their problem so that we don’t have to bear the guilt trip and pain of listening to it again and again, or we simply distance ourselves from them.
My husband used to say that if you have the joy of the Lord you cannot be depressed. For those people like him who have been raised in hope and love, they cannot always grasp the enormity of hopelessness.
And there was me: Michael’s most humbling lesson and likely his most passionate prayer. All the words in the world could not destroy the darkness that rooted itself deep in my soul convincing me all the time that the world would be better without me.
Only love and compassion restored me.
Michael’s patience, hand holding, trust and treating me better than I believed I deserved, slowly helped me to see that I was worth God’s love. If this man who sacrificed so much for me could love me, then surely God who I could not see must love me too.
Between Michael’s dedication and a friend’s compassion; slowly the darkness began to subside. Even though I still think life is too hard; I now know I am enough to handle it, and that it is okay to not be everything for everyone. I learnt to love me too.
For those who don’t have friends and family whom they feel they can turn too, it is such a tragedy. When standards and expectations of those around them are too high and they know that they cannot remove the masks they wear; then suicide seems like the only reasonable option.
And what a shame that is. Not their shame but ours. It is a stain on humanity when we react with detachment and judgment when someone commits suicide. We should bow our heads in shame that we failed a fellow human being. And the only redemption for us is to turn our attention to their families and be dedicated in helping them to find value in life again. Just be kind and patient with people.
If you are battling depression or suicide, please speak to someone today. Your life is worth it. You have purpose. You are LOVED.