READING TIME 8 Minutes
By Sana Khan Afridi
Taking a puff of her cigarette, sitting on the bathroom floor, all she could do was wonder why she was sleepless. She had everything — a house of her own, a well-settled and loving boyfriend, doting parents and a host of achievements to boast of. But, something seemed missing, something inside her, maybe. For the past month or so, she had been experiencing this void; she had started to feel empty and emotionless. It was a very different experience for her. When she was out with friends, she was her chirpy, bubbly self, genuinely having fun. But, at the same time, if she was left to her thoughts, she'd suddenly slip into this quick sandish feeling, where all she'd do is feel pain and curse herself. She'd often experience sudden bouts of brimming emotions, where she felt helpless, and all she could do was burst into tears.
She failed to understand what was wrong with her. And those around her seemed to not care enough to notice.
The few who did notice, though, blamed it on her stressful busy life. "You need to take a break. You need to calm down, and stop assuming we don't care", they'd tell her. "Why don't you go for a holiday? You'll feel better." To her, it all sounded like there was something wrong 'with her'. As if, the problem was her. That didn't help. Instead, it only made her curse herself more, and feel even more lonely. She felt like she had no one, in spite of having so many loved ones around.
She was screaming for help...everyone was there. But no one was listening.
One day, however, her scream was heard, when it hit her loved ones hard. As her boyfriend turned the spare key around in the key hole and tip-toed into the living room to surprise her, he was left speechless. The love of his life lay there, motionless, in a pool of blood. It hit him, he had to save her. Without batting an eyelid, he called the neighbours, and with their help, took rushed her to the hospital. She was saved. But, the scar on her wrist remained...deep and hurtful.
She opened her eyes to see everyone she loved. And who loved her. But something told her she was still all alone. That something was the judging look and ire in their eyes. But before she could calm thoughts, her uncle clamoured, "Why would you do this to us?". Her brother added, "How could you? Don't you know how much we care? Didn't you think about us even once?". Her cousin added, "What's wrong with you?". All she could think of was...nothing. She went blank. She had no answer. Or, the only one - "I don't know". Aware of the fact that they were all still in the hospital, the scoldings were only a little louder than a hiss, but in her head, the cacophony was deafening. Like darkness takes over with the setting sun, the accusatory tone was slowly eating her up. But she had to fight back, she wanted to fight for her life, and so, her instinct made her blurt out loud, "HELP ME, I WANT TO LIVE". Shocked, the crowd went into silence.
Just when her mind started to convince her that there was no hope, that they wouldn't understand, they took a step in that direction. At least, they wanted to understand her, now that she had externalized her internal battle. It was hard to come to terms with, but they did realize that she had been silently fighting depression. They decided they wanted her back...the happy her. And that's when things started to change for the better. She poured her heart out while the doctor listened intently. Her words would remind you of this quote from It's Kind of a Funny Story:
"I didn't want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that's really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you're so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare". ~ Ned Vizzini
The nightmare wasn't restricted to the night, but it put her into panic mode during the day as well. She'd often be left weak and helpless. But, now that she was alive and aware of how she felt, she wanted to fight back. And thus began her journey towards happier days. She is going through counselling sessions and is definitely coming out of that pit. But, everyone around her still needs to be cautious and sensitive towards her, for she is still vulnerable.
If, however, someone was a little sensitive to her. If someone responded with love and understanding, she may not have gone through this turmoil, and may have recovered as silently, as she fell into the hands of depression.
The thing is, one does not simply attempt suicide. The thought usually hits you after you have tried everything you could think of, to tackle those troubling thoughts. It only hits you when you reach a tipping point. It only hits you when ending your life seems to be the only escape route. But it doesn't have to be so.
If each and every one of us started to look at depression differently, maybe we could help save many lives. Yes, it's definitely not easy to deal with those battling depression, but it's not like they're to be blamed either. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand - if there's something else stopping you from being understanding towards others, are you to be blamed? Of course not! So, there's nothing wrong with those who experience these thoughts, for seemingly no reason. Telling them something like, "You're worrying for no reason, you have everything", is not going to help. Instead, it may only make them feel like they're devaluing things in their life.
"Well then, how to talk to victims?", one may ask. The key is to understand that depression needs to be treated with love and with understanding how things will be received, rather than communicated. Never ask someone who is depressed, a question like "Why are you depressed?", simply because sometimes, even they don't know. Understand that they are already experiencing guilt, and overthinking situations - telling them this would not help either. Instead, let them know that you're there for them, and you care for them, without making them feel like a victim. Make them feel good about themselves. Take them seriously. And if possible, get them in touch with a counsellor - but do this tactfully, they must not feel like there's something wrong with them, because there isn't, they're just deeply hurt because of certain experiences that must've hit them hard.
This article could help you with what not to say to a person who's struggling with depression. And this, to help you figure out if a loved one is suffering.
If you are experiencing a similar situation and seeking help, get in touch with The Live Love Laugh Foundation, here.
Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow