Around this time two years back, I sat on my bed and looked at a little canister of painkillers sitting on top of my dressing table. It had Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I had helped myself to the pills from my from job’s first aid kit which I had been largely in charge of. I thought about taking all of the tablets and wondered if I would feel any pain or I would just slip out of the world on the wings of unconsciousness.
As I sat staring at the canister, my mind was taken back to my teenage years, another dark time in my life when I wanted to end it all. I had written a suicide note at that time. At such a young age, I had thought I was done with life. I had been told I was too sullen, too moody, that I was like a witch. This was the first experience of a rather tenacious condition that visited me again later on two other separate occasions.
On one of them, my rather nosy cousin had found a note in my underwear drawer where she had no business at all. She had given the note to my mother who reacted with so much anger, I was floored. After that beating, the feeling my mum didn’t care about me grew stronger. I am glad I don’t remember what she actually said on that day, otherwise I would still be angry with her. That selective memory has served me well at times. However my cousin was unrepentant and I was livid. Afterwards, life continued on seemingly tired legs.
In my early 20s, the feeling of hopelessness visited me again. I had intended to take a whole packet of high blood pressure tablets that belonged to my mother who had left the country just before I turned 18.
My mother’s friend, also nosy in nature like my cousin, visited me after realising she hadn’t seen me in days. To my own surprise, I suddenly told her of my intentions. I don’t know why I did that but I guess a part of me wanted to see if tomorrow would be a better day. She immediately confiscated the pills and again, I don’t remember what my mother said on this occasion when availed of the truth. Since she was away, I dodged her phone calls for a while.
On the last occasion before now, after much mending of my relationship with my mother, my boyfriend called her when he noticed I was on that hopeless path again. In a few days, my mother had returned, this time she wanted to understand why I hated life so much. I felt numb and overwhelmingly tired and it was hard to communicate.
My boyfriend was angry, he couldn’t imagine what he would have said to my mother if he had found me dead instead. In my thoughts, I envied friends and family who had died before, I thought they were in a much better place, they were oblivious to this life.
As I recalled all these dark moments, I realised I have battled depression many times in my life and yet my disposition was just described as moody. I grew up a lonesome child prone to long periods of silence when I was closed from the world. People didn’t understand me and this made me wary of relationships. The fact that my father never took an interest in me always convinced me that indeed I was worthless. I had to deal with this rejection.
I will always remember what a friend once said to me after having known me for almost five years. She sat me down and told me we couldn’t be friends anymore because I was pessimistic and I drained her energy! This came as a shock to me. I was losing that one person I had thought understood me. She too, did not understand my condition and I don’t blame her.
Depression is more than just pessimism
Society mostly considers depression as mere pessimism. So many times I hear disparaging remarks against victims of suicide, and those who attempt it. My aunt, who heard about a few of my breakdowns through the grapevine could only tell me that no one had ever killed themselves in our family. She did not even come close to asking what I was going through; all she cared about was the curse my actions could bring to the family. So the family was more important than me? Was I not part of the family?
Society does not even try to understand that someone who is suicidal needs help and not a whip. Even our own traditions have certain practises that shun depression. Whipping of a corpse and burial without mourning are practises that show total disapproval of suicide. The argument is that people, who take their own lives, do not deserve decent funerals like everyone else. .
Thinking back on my own thoughts of suicide, I realise I never had the courage to actually swallow any pills, I was depressed enough to habour the thought of suicide but not enough to actually do it. What this could mean is that, those who actually take their lives will be in worse situations and need help more than me. This also means that one day; I may get to that stage where I will not hesitate to end my miserable life. I have
Mental health issues are taken lightly or put down to relatives dabbling in the occult. This however, is an issue that needs sensitivity and discretion. The only way to deal with someone who feels life is worthless is to assure them that they have something to live for. It’s really not a matter of opinion.
I am still alive but I shudder to think how many died because signs were missed or taken as trifling things.
This article was written by Kai.
Main image taken from rebloggy.com