Alternatives to Suicide
It is literally in the middle of the night as I write this. I just had a very strong conversation with a dear friend. And I tried to sleep but I feel I should write this while it is still very fresh and hot.
It started on the 29th of December. Yeah, it’s 2018. I shared with my contacts that I would be listing out my achievements in the year 2018. Not to spite anyone but to look back and reflect on the year. I had penned down my achievements for the year earlier. It wasn’t all that flamboyant but it was something worth a pat on the back. Being on Medium and the things I’ve achieved here was a major part of the achievement list. That is to tell you how “great” it was. Anyway, I condensed it a bit and shared it with my social circle on the 30th. Then, I challenged others to do the same. “Count your blessings”, I called it just to make it sound appealing.
Some took to the challenge, while it revealed deep things about others
A very dear friend of mine replied to my posts on a private chat. He concluded the year has been all negative for him and that he had nothing to share. I was, of course, put off by that. Everybody has something if you would just focus on the positives. I know that there were negatives but just focus on the positives. He insisted the year was a sh**show. This is someone I know very much and was quite close to in the course of the year so I began to list some of the positives that were in his life during the course of the year. I listed like 6 or 7. And he admitted that there were indeed positives. But he quickly added that the negatives outweigh the positives quite significantly. So I asked, how so?
I know things were not quite going fine for him at the time but the issue was that I didn’t know how bad it was. The big shocker was that he was owing and it was quite substantial. Now, this is not like in some countries where people owe the banks and the government. This time it was about owing people and the list was already plying up fast. The amount will seem very small to some but in this context, it was much. The sadder part though is the friendships that are crumbling as a result of the debt. The situation has been like that for the most part of the year (more than 6 months). What’s worse is that there is no sign of change on the horizon.
Dude confessed he was on the brink of depression. I was surprised. He certainly never looked like that to me and we saw a lot of each other. I had an idea of his plight and often wondered why he was still the kind of outgoing, chilling person that he was. Even sometimes I think to myself that he must be really crazy to be doing the kind of things he was doing if I was right about my guess of his financial situation. In the end, I would think I was wrong and it wasn’t as bad as it looks. But damn, it was freaking bad. He wouldn’t have opened up if it wasn’t a chat.
There are some conversations that a social media chat opens up that cannot be opened up in a face-to-face conversation
I would still see him later in the evening, but the chat was a deep discussion we have never gotten close to via face-to-face. Of course, I offered to help but I gave my conditions. I can only hope my incomes match up in time. But that is where the story begins.
The most amazing thing to me through this experience was that he kept it to himself. I noticed he had gotten cranky. He was already getting kind of bitter. It was affecting him and he didn’t know it. Meanwhile, I couldn’t draw it out of him in a normal conversation. I didn’t even attempt it because I know it would fail or take the wrong spin. I just had to wait for my chance and invitation. If he hadn’t opened up about it, he would have kept digging himself further. His plans for the new year were already going to dig him further into the ground but he didn’t know it yet. It was like he was living in the denial of the obvious. I was skeptical all the way, but you can’t attack a person’s plan just like that. They have even called me a pessimist before. I shrugged it off. I am not a pessimist, I am just someone with pragmatic takes.
I just think about where this could have ended up if he hadn’t opened up. I know where it could have. Much earlier in the year, there was a case with one of the big brothers we knew while growing up. He started out quite brightly as a banker. And he was doing well or so we thought. When I learned about him after some years of being far away, he had an investment company that was managing other people’s money. The next thing I knew was that there was this grave issue he had that another person I had become close with had to intervene. Well, in the end, he was in debt to the tune of over $2M. Now, this is not about owing banks or government, this is about owing friends and people as close as family. He became a broken man in and out. Everything he had became liquidated. He even had to flee for his life. His guarantors got into serious debts. Now, listen to the sad part.
The debt wasn’t built in a day. The money wasn’t borrowed once or lost once. It was gradual for a period of time. The super problem was that he kept borrowing to cover for the losses. And each time, the conditions for the loans were more choking. The whole thing came apart in a month or less, but the debt was being built up for probably up to 2 years.
He never mentioned that he had a problem, perhaps he was denying it and kept the borrowing going
The worst part was that when people he could actually fall back to as confidants heard that he had such an amount of money all the while, they were bitter, sad and angry. “You mean you had over $1 million all this time?!?!” You can imagine their frustration. He had money, he was losing it but he kept losing it just because he couldn’t open up. Even his family didn’t know he had that kind of money. If he had confided in some key people, perhaps those he knew as elders (if he was afraid of his friends), they could have guided him and would have had a setback instead of a pitfall. He had a pitfall. My friend, thank God, didn’t go beyond a setback.
Now, the suicide part. My friend didn’t get to that point, thank God! But the other man did. He attempted suicide. A rush attempt but people were there to save him. His friend quickly reminded him that if he dies, he only creates more problems for those he loves and cares about. There are rumors that some of those he owes are violent people. If my friend didn’t open up at this point, he would have gotten to that point too. Suicide. People don’t suddenly think of suicide; it is a gradual thought. Many die on the inside long before they actually commit the act. You can’t stop people from having suicidal thoughts but you can come up with alternatives and that is what I have tried to do here.
The best way to stop a suicide is to stop the depression while it is still at its infancy.
The best way to stop the depression while it is still at its infancy is to make the other person open up completely. Now, getting people to completely open up is the most delicate surgery in the whole world. Here is the trap many who try to mend others fall into; the depressed person opens up partially. This is so freaking dangerous. You have to be mean enough to dig deep to see the root of the matter. If you are empathic, you may never get to the root. That’s because people are naturally defensive and would deflect your advances through emotions if you are not “wicked” enough. You have to be wicked to dig deep, deep, deep down. And in the end, you discover that what people are guarding the most with their life is their “demons”. They live in the darkest of the darkest place in the heart. They know the “demons” are in to choke the life out of them, yet they give them the highest grade protection.
What is the cure for these “demons”? Very simple.
- Attack them while they are young
- Shine the light on them. Draw them out into the open. They are vampires. Light kills them.
For my friend, I got deep down to the root when I asked ‘how much?’ regarding his debt. He rambled a bit even though this was in a chat. I didn’t care, I stayed with the question; ‘how much?’ That broke the ice. Everything else was a free fall from there. Of course, I offered him no sympathy for his situation. The last thing he needed was sympathy. I offered him what he actually needs; a path of resolution.
It wouldn’t have gotten this bad, and I understand that there are people who are dealing with different levels of depression. In many countries, the solution they laud are these groups where people share their problems out loud with others. If you are not familiar with that in your locality, you must have seen it in some movies. That can be helpful, but like I said it may make the situation worse because of the problem of partial opening up. However, there is a way the problem expands ridiculously.
With the issues my friend had, he was still going to shows and doing stuff. Although I acknowledge that it is severely less than he would if things were okay, I oftentimes wonder how he has the mental strength to be cheerful if things aren’t going on so nice. Well, from my little research, it turns out nobody has that mental strength. All they do is suppress the feeling that there is a problem. And you know what? That is what the “demons” feast on. They feast on your laughter when you know you shouldn’t be laughing. They feast on your smile when inside you are crying. They feast on your every attempt to fake your expressions about what is going on inside you. This is why I am never depressed.
Why am I never depressed? Because when I am angry, I show it (but I don’t act on it). If there are things that take the smile from my face, there won’t be anything that looks like a smile on my face. I frown when the occasion calls for it. My most common is a stern face and I owe nobody no explanations for it. It’s one of the reasons I’m not a fan of taking photos. That is because I will not smile for the camera. I will never. If you ever see me smiling in a photo, someone made me smile and the smile is a real one. How we have created standards for ourselves that facilitate our own doom.
I used a workplace in the course of the year. My first impression of the place was like it was so awesome. The environment was cool and I thought it would be a nice place to work. There were a number of ladies who worked in the place. Initially, they all looked really nice and posh. They kind of looked “out of my league” based on my own looks. This is because I carry a bushy hair that sometimes looked unkempt. Had not shaved in a month and didn’t shave throughout (didn’t even trim it). I wore a T-shirt always and had rubber shoes on. You can be sure I never cared about matching outfits (but I guessed it wasn’t that bad since my trousers always were deep blue and black jeans). So, needless to say, these girls looked like…like…(what’s the word now?), like Angels. (Not referring to actual angels but you know what I mean).
Well, I get there mostly at noon and often work till late in the evening because I stay not so far away. The point is, one by one I began to see what they all actually look like without the makeup. The first time I saw one without her usual makeup, I was shocked. I was so shocked I tried to hide it. Then I saw another without makeup and without her wig, I didn’t recognize her at first, but then later I did. It was crazy. Now, without their makeups, they look like…like…(what’s the word now?), like Humans.
I have to confess, I passionately dislike makeup. It makes people look pictorially perfect. And that is a big problem. This is because people make their imperfections obvious by it. They want to look dashing but in the end, it becomes one of the ways to nurture their “demons”. What are they so conscious of that have to cover with a mask every time? For many, it doesn’t begin as a means to cover up something, but it gradually becomes that. If you are arguing with this right now that you are not trying to cover up anything, then I dare you to one week without makeup to everywhere you go. And this includes everything that is not body cream or hair cream. Does the thought of that scare you?
Alternative to suicide? Starve the “demons”, bring them to light. And by the way, I am not against makeup. I have friends and family that use it. I am just asking if you are still YOU to your world when you are without it. And it is a very valid question. Anybody trying to deceive their world, no matter how big or small, is just laying the foundation for chronic depression (which may turn suicidal). Why don’t you just try being real? I mean scary real.
Get used to your “imperfections”, it is the one thing everybody has in common
What are people so scared of, that they wouldn’t bring their “demons” to light? SHAME. Fear of shame. It may as well be the greatest fear in the world. Everybody has to battle with it. Those who have conquered that fear goes on to become icons in this world. In fact, it is one of the secrets of very rich people. The ability not to have shame. The day your shame is publicly announced and you can get over it, you become a person that can achieve anything. But as long as you have something you are hiding that you can be ashamed about, you are not ready.
The act of hiding shame actually adds to the shame you are trying to hide. And when the volume becomes enough, it can push you anywhere. That doesn’t mean that if you are public with your shame, you are okay. Some have detached their lives from the persons they once were because their shame came out in the open and they decided to play along. Instead of them to allow that shameful feeling to cleanse their soul, they affirmed what they shouldn’t have and have hence grown into a human monster. You know who you are. Remember the kid you once were; do you still connect to that kid? Or you are digging yourself deeper into the ground?
I need to sleep. Try not to overthink this. Overcome your fear of shame. Open up and turn on the light on those “demons”. Don’t keep them, don’t make excuses for them. It doesn’t matter if the whole world laughs at you for 1 day. What matters is the many days after that one day. Bring the root of the shame to light. In some cases, you need to talk to a friend, for some writing about it will do, some will need professional help, just blurting stuff out in the open will do for others.
When you blurt out your shame and people laugh at you or friend makes fun of you, never run back into hiding, talk about it more! Become shameless. LIVE!