My thoughts are scattered tonight at hearing the news that one of my friends has committed suicide. I saw him three times a week, sometimes more, and never knew that he was leading such a desperate life that he would even consider suicide as a possible solution to his problems.
He was a friend of mind from work. Granted, we never spent time away from work socializing, but we did visit quite often at work as friends. When I would see him (and we would both have the time) I would seek him out just to visit about life.
It is absolutely horrible to realize that I was so close to someone that was struggling to cope with life, yet I never realized it. I read stories about people that have struggled with life to the point where they lost their will to live and thought that I might have been able to do something if only I had been closer. That doesn’t work this time. I had the desire, the ability to listen to any trauma that he was dealing with, and the availability to do something to help; but I never even knew that he was in trouble. It feels like standing on the deck of a cruise ship next to a life preserver and never realizing that someone is drowning directly below you. Not only would it have been simple to cast the life preserver to the person in distress, it would have been something I would have gladly done even if it was uncomfortable or difficult. Yet he died within easy reach of help and I never knew that he was in trouble.
I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up your ass about how depression should be surmounted. Depression – being an invisible killer – is often worse than more obvious problems to deal with. If you have a broken leg, people will offer to help if they even think that you need assistance. Many (most?) people will hold a door open for someone in a wheelchair. We teach each other the signs of heat exhaustion and keep an eye on our coworkers to make sure that they don’t over do it. Strangers pull over to the side of the road regardless of how busy their day is when someone in an ambulance needs access to a hospital, and we don’t even know what happened to them.
But depression is silent. Depression is invisible. Depression is poison that wilts your will to live from the inside. Depression isolates you from the people that want to help you, then it lies to you and tells you that you are alone.
Depression is not a weakness. Depression is not a lack of will power. Depression is not a character flaw.
I don’t know the demons that my friend silently battled. I never saw the stumble that momentarily gave the demon the upper hand. All that I know is that my friend battled his demon into submission over the course of his life until he lost one particular battle on one particular day. That was all it took. If he would have made it through the night to fight again the next day, I feel sure he would have regained his footing and continued to keep the demon at bay.
It is too easy for depression to win the suicide battle. All it has to do is win one time: one little battle, one dreary day, one moment of weakness and depression could end your life.
Depression takes no prisoners. Depression offers no quarter. Depression has no mercy.
Please – for the love of God – call out for help if you need it. Call out for help if you think you might need it. Call out for help if you are afraid. Call out for help until you get it. Don’t give depression a chance to win. Not even once.