These are the questions that reverberated around my head after reading this article on BuzzFeed a few days ago. The article discusses a young 19 year old woman who recently committed suicide. The article is full of pictures of her, recent posts that she had shared via social media shortly before her death and I was floored by them. This young woman was beautiful, so beautiful, talented athletically and academically. As an outsider looking in, she looks like someone who “had it all.” Which begs the question, “why?” amongst many others.
What could be so bad that she chose suicide?
As I perused through the comments, I noticed people posting those same questions. I kept reading until I came across one comment that resonated so deeply with me that it literally stopped me in my tracks. Essentially the commenter said that the fact that she was beautiful, accomplished, appeared to come from a loving family, had loving friends, etc was completely and totally irrelevant when it came down to her mental illness/depression.This commenter hit the nail on the head! People were so caught up in all the wrong things about her death. It’s like they assumed, in part as did I, that because she was beautiful, she had no reason to ever feel depressed or suicidal. Because she had supportive family and friends she had no reason to ever feel depressed or suicidal. Because she was going to a great college and participating in track on the collegiate level that she had no reason to ever feel depressed or suicidal. The thing is, I can’t believe for one second that this young lady didn’t know all of this.
Sometimes having everything isn’t enough.
This may be a difficult concept to understand if you’ve never been in a similar place, but because I have been, I understand it completely.
It’s weird, like you know you have all of these reasons for why you shouldn’t be sad or depressed or suicidal or give into the darkness, but none of it matters. None of it helps. Because, ultimately, none of it is enough to pull you out when those feelings literally consume you.
Now, obviously, I didn’t know this young woman personally in any capacity…all I’m saying is that I can totally relate. I’m not saying she was depressed or mentally ill…all I’m saying is that I can totally relate.
How can I relate?
No, I don’t believe that I’m currently depressed, no I don’t think I’m suffering from a mental illness, and though I have struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past, I’m still here.
People tell me that I’m beautiful, I feel that I’m attractive. I did well in college. I’m doing pretty good as an adult. I have amazing family and friends who love and support me. I’m even really happy most of the time. But, if you’ve followed this blog since it’s beginning, you’ll know that I struggle with my own darkness. I know it so well. I know it too well sometimes.
We all have our own darkness in different ways and deal with it how we see fit. I can recognize the darkness in other people because I recognize and embrace it in myself.
It’s so easy to assume that depression and suicidal thoughts should only fit a certain “type” of person in our society. This person is usually seen as unattractive, socially awkward, a failure, someone with nothing going for him/herself, etc. This explains why we’re usually brought to our knees when a beautiful young woman, who’s only 19, who has got her entire life ahead of her kills herself.
Outsiders looking in don’t even think twice about her being sad or distraught or unhappy or suicidal…because why on earth would she be?! But if someone who’s exactly the opposite of her is those things then all of a sudden it makes sense?!
How screwed is that?!
Instead of projecting our idealistic view and perspective on how we feel other people should feel about themselves or their lives, perhaps our time and energy would be better served attempting to really get to know people and their true feelings about themselves.
And who knows, maybe this young lady was great at hiding how she really felt? Hell, I know I am, most people don’t know how sad or down I can be until I really express it to them.
However, beyond that, maybe we could strive to be a little more perceptive to those quiet signals that people who we care about may give off.
Doesn’t matter how you think they should feel. Trust me. All that matters to them is how they feel and if they don’t feel good, the kind of help they need doesn’t include you telling them things they already know about why they should be happy or feel differently.
Just be there for them. Don’t stop trying to be there for them when you think they’re all better. This kind of battle comes in waves, forever sometimes.
I know that I fight every day, some days I lose, other days I win. I know that I’m fighting a never ending battle, not because I want to, but because I know that my purpose here is larger than my bouts with my darkness.
Depression doesn’t have a face. Suicidal thoughts don’t discriminate. Darkness isn’t always a choice.
Do the right thing and remember this. We’re all fighting different personal battles and we can all use a little extra love from time to time. A smile can be incredibly deceiving and, to an extent, happiness can be faked.
Rest in peace Madison Holleran. ❤
With SO Much Love,