The other side of suicide

The thing with clinical depression is it can be cyclic. You handle it, it comes back, you handle it again, it comes back again … it can seem never-ending. Sometimes you want to stop the constant fight and just give up. And that thought can be tempting.

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Some people do give up, and then they kill themselves. Literally. The world calls them cowards. It says they are selfish, that they didn’t think about anyone else. I’ve been there, so when I find someone that attempted – and completed suicide, all I feel is sad. Sad that they got to that point. Sad that they felt there was no other option. Because there is always another option. Things is though … even when you know there are options, suicide can feel like the best choice. It’s not, but it can feel like it is.

And … it’s never part of the plan. No one with depression intends to give up. They don’t want to be the way they are, to feel the way they feel … to not feel anything at all. It’s not part of the plan. So don’t try to shock them out of it, or bully them out of it, or cheer them out of it, because that’s like saying they want to be how they are, and that you can somehow get them to want something different.

So … what can you do? This video has a few suggestions. For me, well, I’m in a low cycle right now. I’ve been here before, and I know it will pass. I was in therapy for most of last year, and I learned a lot of coping skills. So, in my case, I don’t want anyone to do anything except let me be, let me deal with it my way.

When you’re in a depressive cycle, you can feel like a burden. At least, that’s how it is for me. So I isolate and fight my demons on my own. But … depression is different for everyone. Some people want to be left alone to deal. Some people need others around, so they can feel wanted and needed and loved. I guess … I guess you know your loved one best and you can tell what they need from you. So … give them what they need, and let them know they’re loved.

J.K.Rowling has experienced depression, and she based her dementors on it. In the Harry Potter series, dementors can only be defeated by a patronus – an embodiment of the victim’s most positive influences and emotions. Patronuses (patroni?) are usually in the form of an an animal. How the animal is chosen isn’t clear, but it’s the animal that the person is most affilated to. Kind of like their spirit animal I guess.

I have a feeling mine would be a goldfish

I have a feeling mine would be a goldfish.

In other cases, the patronus is the person you love, or your mentor, the one you most want to be like. Hence Harry’s was his dad, Tonks and Lily’s were their husbands, Snape’s was Lily and etc and etc. I don’t know how to get a real life patronus (I might settle for a tattoo), but I did make an interesting observation. Depression attacks when enough is not enough. When all the good things in your life get skewed and suddenly nothing you say, do, or are is enough.

So, right now, I’m feeling not enough. But tomorrow is a new day – possibly with a new tattoo, and this ish shall pass. Because it always does. If you’re in the same blue space I’m in, or if you know someone who is, all I can say is don’t give up. Fight those fucking dementors. Don’t let them steal your soul. It may not seem that way, but there are other options, and it will get better. Take it from someone who knows.

♫ Change the record ♫ Melissa Fiona feat B.o.B ♫

PS: I’ve been reading up on patronuses. In the book, you conjure it by focusing really hard on a very happy memory. Summoning your patronus is hardest when you most need it, because a patronus is used to scare away a dementor, which is this dark, frightening creature that feeds off your happiness and strengthens your negative emotions in the process. Then, when you’re too weak to fight anymore, it steals your soul. So imagine trying to consciously focus on your best moments while graphically reliving your worst memory. It’s virtually impossible, and that’s what depression is.

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In Harry Potter, Harry thought he was weak because dementors seemed to constantly attack him. He felt flawed and blamed himself. It wasn’t until much later that Dumbledore (or maybe McGonagal) explained the truth to him. The dementors didn’t attack him because he was weak. They attacked him because they breed in fear, pain, hurt, negative energy. Harry had experienced so much evil in his life that the good vibes he had left were like a dementor bat signal.

Depression is exactly like that, and that’s why J.K.Rowling used it as source material for dementors. When you’re lowest and darkest, when it’s hardest to find positive vibes and good feelings – that’s when you need them the most. When you’re severely depressed, you don’t think you’ll ever get better. You don’t have the will to try.

And yet … you must. You have to find the spirit to call your good fairies, your happy moments, because if you don’t, you will die by the dementor’s kiss … quite possibly at your own hand. It’s when you least want to fight back that you most need to try.  After everything he’d been through, it was a miracle that Harry thrived. His experiences didn’t single him out as weak. His survival showed that he was strong.

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In the same way, having depression doesn’t mean you’re weak. There’s nothing wrong with you. Nobody quite knows the cause of depression. Theory suggests it’s a combination of misfiring brain chemistry and misdirected empathy. You could be depressed because certain chemicals are missing from your brain, and because your personality and biology makes you feel things more strongly, experience things more keenly, and therefore be more affected by negatives events and ‘bad energy’. I suspect that’s why so many artists and creative types are susceptible.

These innate artistic qualities, like the ability to observe mundane things, find the riches in them, and translate them in ways that touch other people’s souls – it’s what makes you a good writer, dancer, painter, designer, curator, cinematographer.

And it’s what makes you a target for the dementors of depression. You are not weak. You are powerful and beautiful and strong. And knowing that could be the perfect starting point for calling out your patronus. I’ve just discovered mine. I hope you can find yours so we can overcome depression. Remember, you’re not fighting it alone.

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