Every thirty seconds, somewhere around the world, someone makes the decision to end their life, and succeeds. Thirty seconds. Time is relative, so, sit with it for a minute. And while you reflect, two more people would be dead.
I’ve been candid about my struggle with depression. I’ve tried to shed light on the subject and break the stigma that surrounds it. But, based on those statistics, it is clear that people are still opting to live in silence, in fear of the judgment that inevitably follows.
Depression is an illness. It is not something that we can “pull ourselves together” from, or barter with God to remove from our thoughts. It is a disease of the brain that requires intervention, help and most of all, love. Love for ourselves and love from others. Unconditional love – something most of us don’t even know the meaning of. We suffer from FOMO and succumb to deceitful pretences on social media platforms that advocate and promote blissful, perfect lives. A far cry from the reality of darkened rooms, nights spent crying ourselves to sleep. Why do we need to perpetuate the fake perfection of our lives to our fellow humans? Why not call a spade a spade and be true and kinder to ourselves?
While unashamedly speaking about the reasons for my depression, I’ve never gone back to that day. The day that changed my life forever. This is my story.
I walked out of the office on that cold May evening in a daze. I remembered parking in front of the building of the law firm I worked for and couldn’t remember why I chose not to park in the allocated staff basement. The icy air hit my face hard as I ran to my car. I had a particularly rough day. The night before, I wept in silence, in a heap on my lounge floor. Silently – so that I didn’t wake the kids or nanny. I prayed to my dead father to take me wherever he was. I knew that there was a difference between feeling sad and being depressed. Depression consumed me. I couldn’t function and lived each day in limbo. Suicide invaded my every thought. I felt like I was the protagonist in a theatrical drama and instead of the standing ovation, people pointed and laughed hysterically. The humiliation and the betrayal over the weeks prior, was too much to bear. I was taunted, ostracised and fuelled by despair. Coupled with the divorce, the endless fighting, custody battle and trying to maintain a semblance of normality with the children, was overwhelming. On that cold night, I knew, I had to end it all and make the pain go away forever.
I stopped at a garage and typed a memo on my phone to my children. I told them how much I loved them and that this was in no way their fault or a testament that they weren’t enough. It was simply that I was too weak and had no fight left in me. I was done. Their beautiful, smiling faces looked at me from my cellphone and I was completely numb. I thought I was doing them a favour, as I was of no use to them. I never felt scared at the prospect of crashing into something. I hoped it would be over quickly, the fear masked by the adrenalin. I thought momentarily of my mother and felt relief that she was in KZN and would hopefully not see my mangled body.
Coldplay’s ‘Lights will guide you home’ started playing. Amidst a flood of tears, preparing to crash into anything and meet my death, I sped out into the busy Sandton street.
And, found my way home.
I felt like I had an out of body experience. I don’t know how I got home, perhaps divine intervention? Despite that, the thoughts of suicide never left me. I knew I was going to do it one way or another, the typed memo still saved on my cellphone. It was just a matter of time.
The universe had other ideas and a turn of events found me seated at a SOAR workshop a week later, the catalyst that proved to be the turning point for my life. Coaches and co-founders of the SOAR Institute, Gavin Friedman and Riaad Isaacs, saved me from myself and forced me to do the work necessary and face the fear. I was reminded of my essence – of who and what I am authentically. And I was freed.
Depression is an issue, not an identity. Break the silence. Speak your truth. Be free and give others the permission to be authentic about their suffering. Let’s strip away the negativity around depression and see it for what it’s worth – a disease that can be cured. Most importantly, vote for yourself. And start your own healing. Life is a gift. Let’s learn to love it.