Sadia sent me the following guest blog. (name and links used with permission)
My co-worker’s son’s obituary read, in part, “He lost his long battle with depression.”
In the middle of the family’s tragedy, it was a ray of light to have his suicide mentioned so sensitively. There was no shame in it, only grief. Depression is a real disease and yes, a person can die from it. The fact that a depressed person dies from their own hand and by their own will makes suicide no less a symptom of a terrible disease.
I’m no stranger to suicide. The man I dated in college killed himself a few years after we broke up. His depression started after his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, which resulted from extensive testing into his debilitating headaches. An aunt committed suicide, leaving behind four young sons. She had asked her mother for help in leaving her husband, but the stigma of a divorced daughter was unthinkable in South Asian culture. When my own mother left my father several years later, the family was far more supportive.
I’ve struggled with my own thoughts of suicide.
I don’t know whether all suicide attempts stem from the disease of depression. I doubt it. I think spur-of-the-moment attempts that happen to succeed are likely not connected to depression. I think that many children and teens who attempt to kill themselves to punish their friends or parents for some slight often don’t fully comprehend the finality of death. However, I’ve lived through long-term, detailed planning of my own death, designed to end my own pain and to minimize inconvenience to others. I’ve lived through months of knowing, both intellectually and emotionally, that death was a logical solution to the agony of living. I’ve also lived through the lifting of the veil of depression, through the help of medication and talk therapy, to realize how my depressed brain skewed my thoughts.
Had I given in to the disease, I would not yesterday have celebrated the birthday of my amazing four-year-old daughters. I would never even have had conceived them. I haven’t had a suicidal thought in a few weeks. I am smart enough to recognize them for what they are: mis-firings of a brain in which the chemical balance is off-kilter for some reason. It’s scary not to be able to trust your own thoughts. I’m glad that I second-guess my instincts. I think it makes me a more stable person and a more stable mother.
Still, suicide is a symptom of depression, and I have depression. It scares me. Having lived through the aftermath of a friend’s suicide, I would never want to put my children through that. I will continue to fight this disease, but it I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it sometimes looks so much easier just to give in.
Thank you for posting so openly with us about your journey, your experience with suicide and your ability to fight it. I wish everyone thought the way you do, before ending their lives. I’m so glad you have gotten through the depression and suicidal ideations because I’m honored to call you my friend, and I would be among the devastated if you left us.
Depression is real. Suicidal thoughts are real. Like the line in the obituary above, let’s be open about it, stop hiding it, shine light on it, and maybe then, people will be more apt to talk to another before making the ultimate permanent decision.