Depression & Suicide: Message From a Therapist

Twice in my career, I have encountered suicide. Not of my patient but of their partner. Though very rare, it sometimes happens when a marriage ends it can precipitate an underlying faultline to crack. At first, I felt guilty that I hadn't been able to anticipate the suicide and prevent it but, I realised this was silly and arrogant, I am not magical. What I can do is make a statement about depression and suicide that I hope will help someone who reads it.

I can't save you from killing yourself...I'm too far away, I don't know where you live and I couldn't stop you anyway if you're really determined. What I can do is let you know that I hope that you don't. And, I can explain why you feel this way and how to get out of the misery, if you want to. 

Depression is a natural response. It starts with two things; you, the way you are at the moment and, a problem, the way it is at the moment. Then you make a decision: I am too small for this problem, it is too big for me, it fills me with hurt that feels boundless and I cannot escape. When this is true, depression is the natural response. When you are faced with a problem you cannot solve you acquiesce, as you should, why waste yourself on the unsolveable? There's no point in fighting a fight you can't win and that's when you lay down and give in.

Some problems cause pain that's so great it fills you up completely to the brim and that's why it's hard to find your way out. To find your way out of a labyrinth of painful memories and feelings you need a little mind to think with...some mental capacity left over from the pain but, when the pain fills you up, it's all you can think of. Solutions are too hard. That's why you can't question the assumptions you're making.

I'll do it for you...

You do not have the capacity to handle this problem. You're probably right, as things stand today, you don't have what it takes but, what if you could get what it takes? If you had some help, you might grow a little, change a little and, as time passes, and it might be enough to beat the problem. In fact, have you noticed, even while you're so sad, that you keep asking, why?...why?...why?  Did you know that this is what sadness is for? Contemplation. This is a distant corner of your mind still trying to figure out the problem, trying to change something about the way you see it so that you might perhaps beat it. Even if you've stopped asking why, I can assure you, there is some way in which you can change that would change the pain as well.

The problem is too big. Some problems are truly very complicated, very bad, appallingly bad. Some of them will never be fixed. I know it seems like the worst kind of insult to suggest that your problem might be less bad than it seems but, it might be less bad than it seems. Of course, if you want very much to hold on, then hold on, I wouldn't take that right away from you but, if you want the pain to stop then just think this; anything you are suffering has been suffered by someone like you, who survived. It really has. Problems do change as time passes and they change when you see them differently. Talk to someone about your problem who knows how to do that.

When it seems like the problem will always be too big, too painful to bare, and you will always be too small to handle it...when it seems like the problem has obscured all other possible happiness from life, then suicide arrives. If all these ideas are true, suicide also makes sense. IF all these ideas are true. But what if only one of them was just a little bit untrue? What if the problem will naturally subside? What if the problem is not as bad as it truly seems? What if you will be different some day soon? What if there is some way to be happy that you just haven't seen yet? 

Lots of people have considered suicide and then had a happy life. Lots of people have actually tried suicide and then gone on to live a happy life. What if that could be you? It could, actually...it really could. Hold on less tightly to all your ideas about yourself and the problem. The pain is making you tense and filling your mind till you can't see anything else. Listen. There's a tiny bit less pain right now.

 

 

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