my aunt killed herself on wednesday.
i have always viewed my brother’s death as a suicide — but his method was painstaking and debilitating. he drank and drank and drank until his body said enough, and it took about a decade for that end to come. i lost my brother a long time ago, but was fortunate, just before he left us, to catch a glimpse of the man i knew him to be.
this woman, she’d been gone for years. i was too young when she married into my family to appreciate her personality to the fullest, and as i aged, her character got dimmer and dimmer and dimmer… i did not know her.
it’s easier for me to cope with her absence because i didn’t know who she was. i knew of her struggles, and i know how depression can intensify them so that light, faith, hope and love are altered or altogether lost. there’s a part of me that knows relief for her now. it’s done. she’s no longer crushed under the weight of burdens too impossible for her to bear.
that weight, though… it, like the darkness, has shifted.
it’s easy to hate when this kind of death occurs. it’s easy to be angry. all that darkness, despair, fear and hatred migrate from the body of the deceased to the hearts of the living.
it’s easy to attach blame. someone somewhere must’ve said or done something that caused so-and-so to break.
it’s easy to say that person was weak and selfish and stupid.
then we immortalize the dead — assuming we loved them, of course. kurt cobain and robin williams are some of the best examples of this. it’s such a tragedy. such an easy topic for conversation. how sad! can you believe? why didn’t that person reach out for help? did you know? her instagram is always so fun and upbeat; she couldn’t possibly have been depressed. and then there are the pleas from the public to get help, to reach out. to stay. hell, i’ve made them myself.
i have been depressed since i was eight years old. when i was in college, i gave a presentation in an education class on child suicide, and when i was done, one of my classmates — a middle-aged black man — asked, so you wanted to kill yourself because you weren’t a good daughter, sister, student and friend?
i wanted to slap him. i managed to maintain my composure and responded: when you’re an eight year girl, your only responsibilities are to be a good daughter, sister, student and friend, and i was failing at all of them. i reminded him that during the school year as future teachers we would see these children more than their parents would. i insisted that it wasn’t a teacher’s job to judge the burdens a child carries but to help that child carry them, and if that’s not possible then find someone who can.
it’s easy to belittle someone’s struggles. it’s EASY to belittle someone’s pain.
by the time i was ten, i had a plan.
i’ve had one for thirty-five years. several, in fact. i know all the ways it can be done. i know there’s never been a day where i’ve not thought i want to be dead. i know i wouldn’t leave a note. those who know me best know damned well why i would want to leave this place.
i also know i would never do that to my parents and brother, to my niece and nephew. i don’t want one of those children to ever have to say my aunt killed herself today.
my facebook and twitter feeds are raging with suicidal thoughts. i need this to stop. i need, so much, to see light and faith and hope and love in social media, now more than ever.
please god, let there be light.