This is a journal entry that I wrote on the night of my 18th birthday a little more than a year ago. Recently I revisited it and I wanted to share it with you, both to hear your thoughts and to reaffirm my own. Here it is:
I’ve been thinking a lot about depression and by extension suicide lately. I’m not thinking of planing my own death (or rather carrying out the plans that I’ve already made). I’m just trying to think about it on an intellectual level. This is difficult because Suicide and depression are matters of emotion but I though I would try anyway. I was re-reading some old things I’d written about the nature of emotion (specifically my own) and found documentation of my own depression. A feeling of loneliness and determination that overshadowed everything I wrote.
It is customary for those who are depressed or suicidal to feel disconnected, alone and even invisible. It is this feeling of alienation that leaves a person feeling hopeless but unable or unwilling to reach out for help and connection. Thoughts like “nobody cares”, “no one loves me” and “no one would notice if I disappeared” preceded thoughts and plans of suicide.
Depression is considered a disease. It is also however, a phase, one that repeats in peoples lives with slightly different manifestations, causes and effects. This I feel, is the natural progression of human thought, connection and understanding. Everyone feels alone, lost and depressed at some point.
Suicide, people say is an entirely different matter. I disagree. We humans spend so much time fixating on life (how one should live, what a gift life is and what life means anyway) that it is only logical that we balance out this obsession with at least a few thoughts about our death. For most of us, most of the time, this means a morbid curiosity and a healthy fear centered around the event that is the last moment of life. Things like the after life, Heaven and Hell are used to battle that horrible idea that this stretch of 100 years (if you’re lucky) is it and that once we expire there is nothing. I have found, in my experience, that emptiness or nothingness is one of the scariest things out there.
When thoughts of death turn into thoughts of Suicide, the amount of nothingness in life has outweighed the amount of substance. This leads to lethargy and lack of will or feeling. Eventually one reaches the point there they truly believe that “nothing matters”. From there, emptiness eats away at a person until it seems like death is a worthy and preferable escape from the numb, hollow feeling that has replaced the vibrancy of life. In this way, I say that Suicide is also natural. Necessary? no. Understandable? yes. Whether or not one goes through with the though, I believe that everyone has a stretch of time, a moment, a day, a year, where they thing about ending their life. Many never act on this feeling and for that they are brave. The people who do choose to act are equally courageous because they have chosen to brave the unknown state that is death.
This brings me to my next question: What makes some people commit suicide and others soldier on? I have felt the emptiness of life and the hopelessness of depression and yet I am still here. My friend is not. I drafted suicide notes, carefully planned my death and then walked away choosing instead to fight my way back to happiness. My friend left neither note nor reason and hung himself on a beautiful day in the fall when he got back from school. He was 1 year older, incredibly talented and had a loving, supportive family and a dedicated twin brother. What made us different? Why did he choose to die and I choose to live? These are questions that I can only wish I new the answers to. I wish I knew so that I could help others who feel as hopeless as I once felt (and sometimes still do feel). I wish I could help make depression and suicide a better understood part of human life. But mostly my reason is selfish: I want to understand my choice and why I made it. I want to know why I chose to live, a choice that I have sometimes found myself regretting but that I still cling to. I will probably never know.
Soooo…. there it is! Sorry it’s so long. I would love to hear your thoughts.