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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Word of Hope for World Suicide Prevention Day 2013



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.


Depression  
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.

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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.

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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. 

Choose life! 

------

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.





28 comments:

  1. HI Melissa - what a courageous and vulnerable post! Thank you for sharing your experiences and the experiences of friends you knew in dealing with this issue of suicide.

    Your line about listening to what is not being said sounds like a good way to see who is struggling in life. People are usually not likely to talk about their struggles and depressions but if we spend a lot of time around them, we will be able to pick up clues.

    Those suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies may not always feel like speaking out or saying anything because of the fear of intervention. Your post is timely and helpful - not just to those with suicidal feelings but with a general feeling of depression or feeling a bit overwhelmed.

    We can always lend our shoulder, our concern and our friendship to check in with our friends and family to see if we can get them the help they need. Thanks again for this important post and thank you for Corinne's inspiration. And thank you Belle for her divine acts of outreach, care and love.

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    1. Thank you very much Vishnu. You have the gift ~ you are very generous of your time and you are a very good listener. Use that gift to help others.

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  2. Truly commendable!
    Wish Almighty gives enough courage to all to sustain through the crisis period.

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    1. Hi Rekha, thank you for sharing your visit and your prayer. We need to find courage within so that we could go on our lives normally and to accept the challenges that come our way.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this, Melissa. I know it would be an instrument of God's blessing and love. "Waiting" is a word that is worth noting from this article. If only we could wait for God's grace, for healing, and for help from other people to come.

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    1. Thank you Jocelyn. Whenever I hear news of suicide esp. from young people, I always think how come they did not wait or what could've happened had they lived or survived this incident... I entrust all our young people and the faint hearted to the hands of God. May God give us all the strength that we need and may we learn to use this strength to face the daily struggles we have in life.

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  4. Melissa,

    This post touched me in more ways than one. I will not say that I understand what you have been through, but I share some of your pain. Depression and suicidal thoughts are something someone very very close to me went through. Thankfully, we could help him and save his life.

    God Bless you and give you strength....

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    1. Thank you Bhavya ~ I am open to the pain you shared with me this day. No one could ever assume that they understand what 'we' went through. Your patience and love ~ those are needed and yes, we could help save lives ~ we could!

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  5. I agree with Bhavya!

    This one touched my soul. It just breaks us even we lose someone dear of us, but will destroy us, when we come to know, they took their own life, and we couldn't do anything.

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    1. Thank you ~ I checked your name in your blog and I respect that you wish to be anonymous.

      That incident with my friend gave us wounds ~ which we are still in the process of healing. I think coming out and talking about it openly now is very helpful. It won't bring her back but her memories ~ the good ones ~ will always be with us.

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  6. I am glad you faced it bravely and have passed it with flying colors!

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you for your visit and your hug Ruchira. I wouldn't say I passed it with flying colors but I did overcome it with the help of my family and friends.

      It feels good that I was able to write it now. Lots of love!

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  7. Sweet Melissa, thank you for sharing this very personal post. The thought of you snuggled up with your mom really blessed me. She's a beautiful soul. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this and that you have lost friends to suicide. How desperate a soul must be to take their own life.

    We had a rash of suicides in my extended family over a four year period. Two of my nieces lost their mates and my sister-in-law lost her brother. We were all in shock. They were all young males. It was so so sad—such a waste.

    I would like to be one of the souls who offers hope to the discouraged. I believe that that is a big part of our role here with our human family.

    Sending big hugs sweet Melissa. I'm so grateful that you are better now.

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    1. I am so sorry that it happened to your family too... yes, it does give a shock esp if it's our loved ones who decided on that. A part of us dies with them...

      You are a great encouragement Leah and I know that you are doing it in your own way where you are.

      Thank you for the hugs ~ I truly appreciate them!

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  8. Thanks for sharing, my dearest Melissa. I know how hard and painful this is for you. But I'm sure you know you've touched many hearts today. Even I didn't know the story of you waiting for news...What a awful thing S's passing was and how shocked it left us all. She was such a beautiful soul.
    And you my dear, are so brave - I know your faith that has seen you through the past, will carry you through. For He is faithful. ♥

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    1. Thank you very much BS. I remember how much time we spend on talking with each other in my early years in FB and in blogging. You have helped me a lot in so many ways. It is not easy to write this in full ~ with S and my own story... and I couldn't mention names of other people involved but I'm sure they know how much they are loved the same way.

      Yes, God is faithful. I am very grateful for God's love manifested in all the people who have supported us.

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  9. Dear Melissa,
    Hugs!!! Especially when you so rightly say, " give time and 'listen' to what is not being said ~ to what appears to be invisible."
    The invisible is so because some times we choose for it to be gone, or sometimes, we cloak it as "drama" or "seeking attention" or just plain oblivious to the grief of another person.

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    1. When I wrote that it seemed grammatically incorrect but I wished to identify time and listening as separate entities...

      Give time and listen ~ you know when I think one of the best things that happened after I was cured of my depression is I learned not to listen to what others are saying against and about me... I have learned to develop a strong mind after that. That's what we truly need.

      May we learn to be more authentic to ourselves :)

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  10. Melissa, Thank you for this post.You have touched my heart with your openness and the courage to surpass the moment.

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    1. Thank you very much Sunita. Thank you for allowing my story to touch your heart ~ thank you for your own openness and generosity.

      God bless you.

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  11. Melissa, this is so heartfelt and honest, my dear. Yes, depression is a real illness; my daughter suffers not with that, but with an anxiety disorder for which she takes medicine. Society does tend to make those with mental disorders feel "unloved" and "unworthy." I'm so glad your parents were/are so understanding of the emotional roller coaster you were on at that time. A true blessing of love and support when you needed it most.
    Much, much love to you, dear soul! Thank you for having the courage to share this post with us.

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    1. I think we become our best selves when we are able to reach out to those who are 'unloveable.' That's when I saw my parents at their best ~ I told my mom tonight how much I love her and appreciate her for everything that she is. I am truly grateful to God for giving me the 'right' people to journey with.

      I continue to pray with and for you as you do with me. You have been a source of encouragement and inspiration in all those dark times Martha. Love you dear friend. Thank you!

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  12. It is such a soulful post on suicide and depression is an illness that can be treated. It demand courage to write such a post and what we need is love. We also need to get rid of pre-conceived ideas that we know little of.
    Cheerz

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    1. Thank you very much Vishal. Depression can be treated, thanks God. We need all kinds of resources ~ financial, psychiatric help and of course, the love and support of loved ones. However, not all are able to comply because of lack of money and therefore, funds need to be generated. It's where the government could be of help. This is the practical side.

      Emotional support and love is necessary to bring back the dignity one has lost ~ one needs to develop a strong mind since it has been weakened and beliefs have been shakened.

      And yes, openness and lots of patience and understanding...

      Thank you for your visit and your comment :)

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  13. The topic of suicide is not foreign to me, Melissa. I have been in that dark place where taking my own life felt like the solution to end the pain. And if I gave in, I could have been dead two years ago, or even months ago. It's a dark, dark place to be in and no one will truly ever understand except for the person who has been there, too.

    It is so easy to judge people who commit or contemplate suicide as weak and selfish out of ignorance. I do hope that people will open up their minds to learn more about mental illnesses, not only depression. People with psychiatric disorders need help and support, not judgment.

    Thank you for sharing that part of your life so openly, Melissa. Much love and God bless <3 :-)

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    1. I will always remember how you became closer to my heart when Corinne reached out to all of us with a liner you tweeted.

      Thank God you held on to God ~ He is our only source of hope, mercy and love!

      It is not easy to come out Irene but it's one way of helping others not to be ashamed of their experiences and learn to talk it out if, not with family,with friends.

      We need support and it's okay to ask for it ~ I would even say 'demand'~ demand it...

      I pray with and for you always. God is here.

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  14. I appreciate your courage my friend, to share this experience, Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in hand most of the time. It is important to visit the psychiatrist and there are medicines which can help the person, along with psychological counselling. I marvel at the way you have relied on God as your source of hope and strength. Thanks for sharing ! you are a ray of hope to many more ...

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    1. God wishes that we help ourselves... I wasn't thinking of God when I had depression but the people who surrounded me with love were able to bring me back to my senses through psychiatric help and medicines.

      Thank you for your visit and encouraging words Angela :) God bless!

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