Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dark Days

"....and he suddenly understood what she already knew and felt inside: that while it would hurt to die, it would hurt even more to stay alive."

     The Pact, by Jodi Picoult, is a novel that emotionally (but is there any other way?) explores teen suicide and depression. Like many people, I have my own story of how these things have played a role in my life. It's a story I rarely share. Sadly, depression is growing more and more popular, and nearly every household has been infiltrated with some traces of its dark and slippery substance. I picture depression to be colorless, void of anything. Not even sadness is present in depression, because sadness (like all other emotions) requires too much effort. It's exhausting to be happy, or sad, or angry, because feeling those things only send you spiraling deeper and deeper, until all you can do is lie in bed, or on the floor, or on the couch, and stare. And think. And usually, thinking just makes it worse. And it always seems like you have these intense feelings in your mind, but you simply can't fathom sharing them with anyone, because they just won't make sense. So you keep it all inside. 

     "Emotionally constipated," my therapist called it.

     With all of these feelings and all of this irrationality going through peoples' minds, is it any surprise that suicide is more than just a fleeting thought? However, I think the biggest reason people think about suicide is because of the shock value it would bring. Most people who consider this option don't think past the initial act. It's more of I'll end my life, that will show them. Then they'll all regret not paying more attention to my obvious clues about my severe depression. But life isn't a Nintendo game. You don't get to kill yourself and then use one of your green mushroom extra lives and start over, or go back to the halfway point. You get ONE life. 

     It's the most selfish act, really. Sure, you don't have to deal with how overwhelming life can be anymore, but what about the people you left behind? That's a large part of what The Pact was about. The boyfriend is accused of murdering his girlfriend, and he claims it was a botched double suicide attempt gone wrong. Now he and the families and friends have to deal with the aftermath of losing a 17-year old girl. That's not fair, and it's not right. For Christians, especially. God has the timing for everything, and it's surely not our place to try and intervene. (I so do not want to even enter the realm of the Calvinist debate ...) God has a plan. So stick around and figure out what it is.

     The first third of the year is the time with the most memories for me. It's the time of both the beginning and the end of a relationship. It's a time of the first and the last, a time of hardship, a time of discovery, a time of despair, a time of more beginnings and even more endings. Two years ago was rough. But I had people who surrounded me and helped me and loved me. What saddens me immensely is that (save my family) none of those people are constant (or even close to) in my life anymore. Such a pivotal point in my life, and the people who hold such dear and tender pieces are gone. Some, I could reconnect with easily. Others I'm not expecting to ever talk to again. The kicker is this: one of the propelling forces in that time of life was that I felt like I was losing everything. And now, looking back, I see how I have lost everything from that period of life, but I have gamed what I never expected: wisdom, perseverance, faith, courage, a voice. 

     It's a sensitive issue, one that hits close to home for so many. But for too many, it's taboo. That's why depression gets so severe. It's frowned upon, and that needs to change. Feelings need to be acknowledged, affirmed, and dealt with. That's the only way the healing can ever come. Life will get better. It has to.

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