I can see that you have lost hope. You have not been yourself lately. I see your tears, and I noticed that you no longer smile.
I wanted to tell you that you’re not alone.
Two years ago, when my brokenness and despair climbed to unimaginable heights I decided to end my life; Twice in that year. The second attempt was worse than the first. I ended in hospital in a High Dependency Unit. No one thought I’d survive.
I woke in regret. Not for what I had done but because I was still here, when I didn’t want to be. I felt bad because I knew there are people who want to live but can’t. I wished I could give someone else my chance.
At the time, I didn’t think that I would have been able to get through, to carry on with such a huge hole in my heart. The emptiness that I have felt since childhood had overtaken me.
I wasn’t always sure of what it was that helped me along. But I can see now that it was the message of hope. It was consistent and it came from familiar faces and strangers.
Conduits of hope
When I awoke in hospital from unconsciousness, I discovered that a woman on my ward had bought me a stuffed monkey, which she placed at my bedside. “What are you going to call him? Cheeky Monkey?” Then she added, “Whatever it is, it will be ok.”
My grandma who has endured a life of hardship told me that “we live in hope. I know things will get better because I’ve lived longer than you so I’ve suffered more. But for things to get better you have to keep living.”
In the days following my discharge from hospital, I was unable to do basic things for myself. Combing my hair, eating or having a bath knocked the wind out of me. I didn’t even have the energy to go collect my medication from the pharmacy. But someone who I had never met before, from a mental health charity I volunteer with, turned up, went and collected my meds, and returned with them and her sister. She gave me so much love and support.
My friends rang every single day. And though I live in a country with no family, I realised I was never alone.
I slowly got back into routines and one step at a time, it became a little easier to carry on. My burdens became lighter and lighter as I shared them with friends. My dad is now better able to support me too, after we had a conversation about depression.
Sharing my story
One day, Dad asked me how it was that I could go for days without eating and not feel hunger. I explained that depression is so gripping and enveloping that the hollowness it causes inside one is greater than any hunger or emotion that one could possibly feel. That day dad told me although he was never able to understand depression as an illness, he understood for the first time.
That gave me hope, because like dad, I had grown up in a society that stigmatised mental health problems; where people are marginalised, and a diagnosis could mean an end to your job and the people who want to associate with you.
Sharing my story not only affected dad, but other people living with depression. Through my blog I received lots of messages from people who told me sharing my story made them realise they were not alone, and that there was hope.
And it is true. We are never alone. Depression might cause us to focus on our pain. Indeed, it appears as a dark tunnel with no end in sight. But from my experience, depression is a master of illusions. If we just plod on, we will see there is light at the end of the tunnel piercing through the darkness. It isn’t always easy to carry on when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. But calling on our friends and the people who love us can make a huge difference.
So, my friend, the nights may be dark but morning is sure to come. Flowers wither away in autumn, but life returns in the spring. Two years on from that terrible period, I am still trying to find my way in this world. But it has gotten a lot better. Grandmom was right. I wouldn’t have known it could better if I didn’t continue plodding on. In that vein, I live in sincere hope, that one of these days when I wake up, I will be pleasantly surprised to find that I am happy and living is no longer as hard as it used to be. This is my prayer for you too.
Don’t ever give up.