.Suicide thoughts and depression have nothing to do with how you look on the outside.
On the life I could have lost, on the lives we could still be losing everyday.
In my previous posts on social media, I shared with people — both strangers and friends — that I am chronically depressed and suicidal.
Notice the present tense. I am still chronically depressed and suicidal. I am pretty certain people don’t really believe me. I look like I am the furthest away of being a person you would think is thinking of ending his life every other week, if not every day.
That is the whole point though.
There is no telling how someone with chronic depression and suicidal tendencies should look.
Before I take this farther, I want to make it clear that what follows in the next 8 minutes that you will be on this page is entirely my personal story, I am not speaking on behalf of all depressed and suicidal people, because they are complex conditions and I have taken all my spiritual beliefs aside — they cannot be reduced to one person’s story.
I have had countless people tell me that I inspire them and they wish they were like me, that I am full of life. I have always wanted to tell them paradoxically that I am full of life, precisely because I think about killing myself all the time. (But I do not tell them because I have never had the courage to).
I deeply empathise with those who end up taking their lives successfully. I am even envious. I know what it is like. To exist at that brink, to feel so much pain that even the mere thought of death is a relief. Or to feel so numb that nothing is capable of being an incentive to live. Or to look at humanity sometimes and be like, “really? What is all this trouble for?”.
I am not sure if I will always be capable of reasoning. To be reminded that people love me, so I just can’t. But I have also lived through moments when I am not capable of remembering. To be so overwhelmed that I don’t give a shit about my curiosity. I understand why some people make that choice. To take away their lives. So do not judge them when they do.
Yet it breaks my heart each and every time I know of someone ending their lives. I understand, I empathize, I am envious, but I still get so, so, heartbroken. Life is not binary. The world is less without them. We have lost permanently, what these lives could have brought to us and mainly because, if they had open up about their issues, maybe we could have made fun out of it and still share this life. .
People got all confused when I posted that I am chronically suicidal and depressed as though I am describing the weather. Maybe some of them think I am doing it for the attention.
But listen to me! It is important to reduce the stigma and the misconceptions. There are so many others out there who are less lucky than me. I have been blessed with people who love me. I never used to know, but I have had a chance to know, to be capable of knowing what love feels like. There are some of us who do not experience that. Some of them are unable to express the weight they are carrying until the deed is completed. A life is taken or they take that of another with them. They are afraid to be judged, censored, dismissed.
We wouldn’t judge someone for telling us that they have diabetes or any other long-term chronic illness. Why do we not acknowledge the life-long suffering of people whose brains are attempting to eat away every single bit of them?
We tell them it is not real, to get over it. If they could, why would they choose to tell us about it, even though they know how they are going to be seen?
The chronically depressed/suicidal people I personally know are the most empathetic, generous, creative, vibrant and what you call full of life souls I have known. (I wish I could mention some of them here but I cant). I shudder to think what I, individually would have lost if life had taken them away from this world. I would be so, so, much less without most of them. I don’t know who I’ll become if I thought that I was alone.
For me, Life becomes a choice. It is not something I am automatically wired for, just for mere survival. Every single day, it becomes a fight. Do I really want to live?
When I was younger, that answer often came back with a flat “Yes”. I did want to live. Life was full of possibilities and I had a lot of dreams. I did not understand why I should ever die.
I know of many others who are less fortunate. They had never seen a day of light.
I now know. My depression and suicidal tendencies developed as I grow older and will likely not go away, ever. They are always there, just waiting. It takes only a split second to feel that sinking feeling all over again.
Life has gotten a lot more complex and also simpler. I have stopped looking at life in binary terms: do I want to live or die? I started to understand I could want to live and die at the same time.
Yet I have some days when I know I am experiencing shitty emotions not because I have an unbalanced psyche. I know that is just my neurological system malfunctioning because I was not careful about up-keeping it through sleep, diet, movement. I exert an extraordinary amount of effort just to be relatively functional.Sometimes I just try to let myself be. If I am weepy, I just let myself weep. I keep myself away from people as much as possible because I know I have magnified reactions to everything. That explains why I am the least active member in those Whtsapp groups.
Some other times, I know it is my unexcavated emotions that are affecting my physical health. Unexpressed emotions, repressed grief, denial of some sort, overwhelming sadness, triggers of old wounds. If I don’t address them in some ways, I start to fall physically sick.
Once in a while, I cannot deal with myself. I have overwhelming melancholy and I let myself go. I completely stop eating . I hide from the world. It snowballs. I start losing all perspective. My emotions are out of whack. There seems to be nothing left in me. I cannot move. I feel like dying. All that pain, it can just go away.
Else, I could be experiencing one of the most balanced periods of my life, and yet I experience moments of existentialist suicidal tendencies. I think of dying not because I am sad or numb or empty. I think of dying because intellectually, I question all of this. Yes, my life could be amazing and it could have meaning, but so what?.
I can tell myself: it is the process, the journey, the love, the evolution. I can look at it spiritually. But what if I just don’t care — about spiritual growth anymore, about human evolution, or anything?
Sometimes, it is not the pain that drives me closest to death. It is when I am my most sane self, and I find tiny moments in-between when I just simply don’t care about anything.
Here is what keeps me alive. I cannot find it in myself to end my existence knowing that people would have to spend the rest of their lives dealing with it. How can I be someone who knows what it is like to carry so much pain and be the same person who delivers exponential pain to people who love me?
So I try. I try to live for them. Since I don’t see the point of survival, I try to be brilliantly alive. My life has to be extraordinary, on my own terms. It is not enough for me to merely exist, then why exist?
And I am curious. I love to create. As much as part of me is borderline suicidal all the time, I am curious about what I can make out of this. When life itself is not an incentive, it can be incredibly freeing, because I have a lot less I am afraid of losing. For me, it is not about losing money, people, reputation, it is about losing my will to live, so I am unafraid of most losses just so I can feel truly alive. This is why It is easy for me to quit any cushy job or make a seemingly insane decision as to leave college when the other side of the equation is feeling like I want to end my existence.
In a parallel universe, if I didn’t know people love me, curiosity and the desire to create may not be enough to sustain my life. It is also not enough to live just knowing that people love me. Both are essential in keeping me alive.
It makes me really upset and angry when we lose people this way, especially young humans who haven’t had a chance to experience a fuller spectrum of life, or for reasons that can be mitigated — bullying or trauma. They experience all that pain and they think, that is it. Why live? They think they are their wounds. They think their wounds make them unworthy of life.
And there are some of us who because of unjust circumstances, never ever got to get a hold of this condition. They did not get to experience anything else other than pain. They have never gotten the breaks I have been given.
I am not sure if I would still be alive if I didn’t make the decision to call Evalister Kamwangala in July 2015/16 or go and stay with Charles Lipenga in 2015. If I didn’t have that one single friend like Lilly Banda who told me it was okay to be me, when I was numb. If sleeping pills weren’t accessible in 2015 in my BQ in Area 47. If I didn’t start to meet people like Minju, Vincent Kumwenda, Francesco and the entire Lilongwe TEA in 2015 or my Maestros Leadership Team family who saw me beyond my pain and chaos and told me I was awesome.If I didn’t fall in love with Michelle and being able to listen to me and encourage me daily.
I have been an extremely pale shade of myself for most of the previous 3 years.
I have discovered agency — that I am capable of making choices. I can now choose to live. I felt back then I was forced to buy into a life I didn’t want, now I am capable of consciously choosing to live. I see myself and accept myself, only because people saw and accepted me first. I am learning more about my condition. It starts to feel more like a blessing and a curse, instead of just seeing it as a lifelong affliction.
I have accomplished a few things. For my work, for the people in my life. My accomplishments are not to be seen in my resume. They are to be felt. This is the life I consciously choose everyday.
But if you, the reader, have in any way derived value from me — whether through this post, through something else I have written, done or made, through my love or friendship, through something I am not even aware of;
think about all those times I chose not to die;
think about the ones who are still trying to make that choice right now. Think about the ones who have chosen the other way. Think about what we as a whole, may have lost, or are still potentially losing. Because we saw them as less. Because they are afraid to tell us. Because they didn’t know we love them.
NOW IN THE COMMENT TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DO, TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE DEPRESSED AND SUICIDAL OR HOW I CAN HELP YOU IF YOU ARE IN THE POSITION I CONSTANTLY FIND MYSELF IN.
Dennis Imaan is a Global Citizen born and currently staying in Malawi. He loves to share his experiences and lessons with others. Travel, Tourism, Innovations, Media and Youth development are close to his heart.