I write this on behalf of friends who, for years, have waited for me to break my silence over depression (my own, several years ago) and the suicide and death of a friend whom I cared for so much.
April 2012, Holy Thursday, while the Last Supper and Washing of the Feet was being re-enacted, I looked at the altar of our church. Four years before that, a man shot himself in front of that altar ~ the church was desecrated and was closed for several weeks.
I was in N. Africa when that incident happened and most of the stories in our place were recounted by my mother. I 'knew' how my mom 'felt' when I asked her about it.
That very night, I received several calls from India, but every time I took them, they dropped instantly that I had to wait early the next day to find out what happened. I knew it was an emergency call. I opened my FB and was greeted by several messages from **'s daughter telling me to pick up the phone. I wrote her back and told her the lines were not functioning well. I communicated with ** through email and she told me our soul sister died ~ how? She committed suicide...
The incident was caught on tv and another soul friend saw it. I asked two friends living in different parts of India to confirm the news but they have not heard of it. I didn't wish to spend Good Friday on the net but I stayed because several people started asking me why there's RIP posted on my friend's Facebook page. Another good friend asked us not to sensationalize the news and warned me to be careful in case an investigation starts.
I, admittedly, lost a bit of my peace. For five full days, I was wide awake.
While reading the theme on this year's World Suicide Prevention Day, my reflections revolved around the suffering of a mental illness ~ depression ~ as a factor in committing suicide.
1) I was not aware my friend was suffering from depression nor was I aware that she took anti-depressants. In all our conversations, I found strength in her words especially knowing that she took care of her little daughter ~ she never verbalized plans of doing this.
2) Yes, she had problems which she openly shared with us, but we didn't know that these problems affected her so much that she'd take her own life.
I felt a turmoil inside ~ it disturbed me much that I was with her all the time and yet I really never knew what bothered her and 'why.'
Was I so self-absorbed with Sam's loss that I was never able to truly listen to her? In fact, it was she who was consoling me around that time.
Flashback a little more, in 2007 and 2008: I had depression at the last months I was in the convent.
It is true what is written in the 'brochure' ~ 'knowledge is NOT enough to combat stigma." Negative attitudes do not help neither...
For the most part, it was 'fear,' lack of knowledge, negative attitude that prevented some sisters to understand what I underwent. For some, it was a locked idea on me 'acting it up' so I would have a good reason to leave.
I have given up to despair ~ for me, it was time to cease being strong. I need 'other people.'
For your information:
1) Depression doesn't happen in a day ~ it's a period of six months. ADL(Activities of Daily Living) cease. Chemical imbalance occurs and delusion happens.
2) With the delusions are suicide ideations. *I understood from this point, that my friend had been suffering for a time and found no way out.
3) Consult a psychiatrist not a psychologist in cases of depression. Medicines are needed to correct the imbalances that occur. *Usually, the person appears hyper in the evening and couldn't sleep.
4) Stay with the person. Be really patient. *I'm sorry but I have not found this in my former community. It was only my mom who was extremely patient with me. I remember shouting at Belle, who was just around 4 at that time, to stay away from me but she never left me. My mom knew that I couldn't resist being with kids and she thought Belle could reach out. *She did and I am forever grateful to my niece.
But aside from all these medical help, I found healing in love.
The stigma was there: going to a shrink, visiting a psychiatrist, taking meds ~ I felt unloveable at that time. I felt unworthy, I couldn't work at that period ~ I thank God for my parents who were really there for me. *I remember they'd let me sleep with them. My mom would hug me often. She's a real saint.
Grace found me and it allowed me to experience God in a real way. It took me several years to be converted but that earthquake ~ crisis moment ~ provided me much strength and hope to walk through this life again.
*I prayed had my friend waited* ~ if all those who died this way ~ just waited...
Crisis is an opportunity to grow.
At this point, it would also be good to raise the question of funds and projects in the government to help in this area. If we just take a look around, there are many suffering from this and money is needed to sustain medical assistance for a person to fully recuperate.
In our families and communities, our own friends ~ give time and 'listen' to what is not being said ~ to what appears to be invisible.
And for those who feel faint hearted and weak ~ Coraggio! (Courage) ~ you are never alone in your struggles.
I would like to thank my BS (Beautiful Soul), Corinne Rodrigues who has invited me to write about this. She has been one of my pillars of strength. Forever grateful!
You may check out the other links on World Suicide Prevention Day 2013 at Write Tribe.
I would also like to thank Casey Bee whose blog has been a great platform for those undergoing grief. Thank you Casey for journeying with me.
We offer our soul sister's soul to Jesus and His Divine Mercy
May she rest in peace.
And we pray for her family.