“Why don’t we talk about it?”
It is on repeat in my head. I am asking silently, over and over, why people don’t express their emotions. Surely, if we talk about how we are feeling we would not get to the point where we will leave our loved ones behind in a most tragic manner.
Then, I realized that it isn’t as easy as being open about what we may be going through.
But, not me, no! I talked. A lot! I talked to colleagues and friends. I talked to my boss and colleagues who would listen. I talked to my GP. I talked to my psychologist. Yet, in August 1998, after contemplating it many times every day, I attempted to end it all.
I was fortunate… although, perhaps it was more cowardice. I wasn’t brave enough to be serious about calling it quits. I was acting like a proper spoiled brat who wasn’t prepared for a failed marriage after my then husband cheated on me, first with a married woman and then with a younger one a year later.
It wasn’t my time. It wasn’t my destiny. My destiny, it seems, is to tell those who’d care to listen that it isn’t so easy to keep it together even when your cup is filled with loving support.
Why am I talking about my old clinical depression (major depressive disorder) out of the blue?
Depression, notwithstanding its cause/s, is not merely deep sadness. It isn’t the same as when someone says, “I’m [feeling] depressed.” It is a mental disorder. You cannot shrug off the sorrow. No amount of persuasion can make the gloom go away. There is no magic or fairy dust that can erase the melancholy. You do not simply replace the mournful look with a smile.
The truth is the smile hides the inexplicable pain from the hollowness inside. I used to always say, and I still do at times, that I laugh or else I’d cry. I laughed a lot. I had a smile permanently plastered on my face. Strangers might even think I had a swell life. I weighed a paltry 38 kilograms though. People close to me knew the truth.
Do you know what’s worse than knowing someone is suffering from depression? Not knowing that someone is suffering from depression.
Everyone in your world sees you as the smiley person. You are the epitome of a happy person in their eyes. Oh, you blessed one, born with a bright and cheery disposition!
An old colleague and friend is that person. So, despite the years we hadn’t seen or spoken with each other, when I found out a couple of hours ago that he took his life this weekend, I couldn’t believe it. A successful and happy family man couldn’t have possibly succumbed to depression. I’m not the only one who found this piece of news unbelievable. The people working with him were also shocked. They didn’t know.
Why? Why? Why?
I taught myself not to ask too many whys especially without asking why not, too, but I have so many questions right now that I will have to excuse myself. I will ask.
Why do we hide our depression? Is it because a valiant man cannot and must not admit to suffering from a mental disorder?
Are we embarrassed of mental illnesses? But, why?
Do the people who love us secretly want us to not talk about our depression? Why?
Why is so hard?
I actually can’t go on writing right now. I am so very sad. I can’t…
When did he stop seeing a meaning to his life?