OK its a bit of a dramatic sounding title but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.
After having a conversation with someone at work I finally realised one giant problem with the way people handle being told that someone they know is depressed/suicidal or suffers from life crippling anxiety.
Instead of asking you why, how its triggered or if there was something that you can pinpoint that started it (questions you might not have answers too but at least it shows they are aware its personal to you and want to understand it) they tend to, with the best intentions at heart, tell you why you shouldn’t be, that things will get better and that you don’t want to kill yourself….
Why is this a problem?
I think sometimes people think that being told that your life is worth more then what you think it is then you’ll feel better. This isn’t me grumping on people who really are just trying to be nice. It was just something that came up at work and the more I think about it the more I realise that people WITH depression or anxiety or have been suicidal tend to want to talk to you about it. They’ll ask questions that maybe you haven’t asked yourself before, they’ll be understanding but they’ll never tell you “don’t do it” or make a joke. They’ll listen, they’ll let you know they are there to talk to and they will share their own stories with you.
People who don’t tend to try to talk you out of it. The funny thing, and what I tried to tell the person I was talking too, is that if I was suicidal at that moment I probably wouldn’t be there telling them about it.
For some context I’ve told a lot of people at work about being suicidal. One of the younger guys will listen to me babble away about anything and is actually very understanding even of the stupidest things I get depressed about even when I can’t explain them well. He always ends the conversation with the jokey “killing yourself is stupid, you aren’t stupid so what won’t you do?” but because I’ve known him a long time I know he’s just trying to leave the conversation in a up lifted jokey way.
Another guy I’ve told at work who suffers from depression spent a good deal of a hour just talking to me about it all. About what made him suicidal and how he coped with it.
My manager has heard the words but tends to ignore anything about me anyway.
It was one of our drivers that I told the other day (for a actual reason, I don’t stand there and just shout I’m suicidal to people it just ends up cropping up in conversations about personal life from time to time when I have to explain reasons for the way I act) and he didn’t really know how to take it. At first he did the jokey “don’t do it” and then went real serious telling me about a friend of his who was depressed at one point but got over it (his words not mine.) I rolled my eyes because I knew what was coming, you will get better I promise and stuff like that. I pointed out to him that I’m used to my depression and anxiety as I’ve been dealing with them now for well over a decade and even though it effects me in a giant way every day it wasn’t really the fact I suffer from it that made me suicidal.
What he then proceeded to do was to, I can only say he was trying to scare me off of killing myself by bringing up god and how its the worst thing you can do. When he realised I wasn’t religious he changed it to do you believe in spirits because I read that if you kill yourself you’ll be stuck depressed for something like a thousand lifetimes.
The thing is I know this guy, I’ve known him for nearly 7 years, I get on with him and of course I didn’t get annoyed or angry at him I just listened to him and what he had to say. When I tried to steer the conversation to an actual explanation of how I feel and what it means to be the way I am he listened but didn’t seem to take it in. He was too busy thinking ahead to something horrible I could do without hearing the fact that actually the mindset I’m in is dangerous, yes I don’t dismiss that it is, but its a whole combination of a lot of things that could lead down the dangerous path but because I’m aware of that it becomes a fight NOT to go down that path. A fight that I have so far won, but it isn’t a fight that will suddenly disappear. I won’t be scared off of it by the thought of a possibility of being punished after my life because what he didn’t get was that my life feels like a punishment anyway.
Getting home and talking to another friend who doesn’t suffer from any mental kind off disability and he made me realise that my life is one big fight against myself and its a feeling people who have never been through that will never be able to understand. He asked me how I felt when I wake up and I told him I tend to wake up and not want to be there, I want to be dead or back to sleep. I don’t want to face the day and 5 out of 7 days I’ll wake up crying. Opening my eyes doesn’t help because it makes the day real. Sometimes when I’m not working I can lie there crying from 7am to 1pm without opening my eyes before I decide its time I did open them. He told me that when he wakes up his first thought is he needs a pee, he’s never woken up and thought about the day ahead and if he did it wasn’t any more then “fuck I have to go do this now.” He then asked me how I felt when I went to sleep and I told him that it was like a daily nightmare of everything I wanted but couldn’t have. Every mistake I’d ever made, every time I’d said or done something stupid. There is a parade of people that I could put some effort into knowing and be happier walking across my brain reminding me that I just won’t mentally be able to put that effort into it so they are at arms length right there for me to pull myself too but I just won’t. He told me he usually lies down and thinks of nothing. Or he thinks of things I can’t really write in a blog.
That kind of thing helps. Knowing how other people feel and how other people react and being able to compare it to how I feel makes me realise how hard I do fight to live my life. Some people don’t and some people can’t and it makes me happier knowing that so far I’ve been able to put up a brave fight. It makes me want to be able to struggle for more and to put effort into having a normal life. When you explain that fight to some people they just don’t understand.
I don’t think there is a point of, even with the best intentions, trying to scare someone off of being depressed.
The scariest thing for us is being alive in the first place.