“I walk around like everything’s fine but deep down, inside my shoe, my sock is sliding off”
Last week, Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park made a decision. To end his own life.
It was such a sudden, shocking act that depression and losing the battle against your demons are currently trending. Everyone’s talking about talking about it. One positive result of an excruciatingly painful tragedy.
Talking about depression is depressing? No, talking about depression should be an anti-depressant.
Perhaps depression has become a blocked word since it’s been a buzz word for such a long time. An everyday occurrence: who doesn’t have depression? Don’t forget about its best friend anxiety either.
What is depression really? Sympathy seeking? Weakness? Not trying hard enough?
It most definitely causes most people to block out the rest of the words after their friends say “I am depressed”. So common place. And exceptionally concerning for this very fact.
Let’s therefore skip the blocked word and call it the abyss: an extremely deep, bottomless hole which is so incredibly dark, you cannot visualise yourself seeing the light. Hopelessness.
Being no expert and someone with no real knowledge beyond my own experiences and the tremendous sadness when a loved one decided to succumb to the abyss, I have no answers. My caveat is therefore: I am in no position to give advice, but rather I am appealing for action and if not that, an urge to become more aware and mindful.
Chester, like so many who succumb to the abyss, was super successful in his career, beloved friend and father. Incredibly talented and world famous, Linkin Park just released their latest album, One more light, and was about to embark on a world tour to promote it. You would be correct to rationally think: why?
It’s a question I only ask myself now, after I have beaten the abyss. At a time in my life when I had a great position in a big firm, with a wonderful family and everything I could ask for, the abyss closed in around me, suffocating me with overwhelming despondency.
Certain factors within my micro-cosmos triggered an entrapment situation and despite all my efforts to fight against it, I was unable to win by pure determination alone.
I have always been an optimist, believed that I could do anything I put my mind to. And I did, with the t-shirt to prove it. Yet, here I was: utterly trapped and suddenly completely disabled, falling lower into the abyss.
We all have down-in-the-dumps days, days on which you think you will never survive without a caffeine drip. But a while with your headphones on or an hour running puts you right: back to your can-do self.
Living with the abyss is something a lot more sinister and severe. Whether its trigger is sudden or gradual, old feelings or new, loss or desperation – the darkness is brutal.
As busy, hard-working people, we often don’t have time to pause and reflect on mental health.
We have deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! People depend on you.
You must go, go, go! You must carry the weight. Get up and carry on. Snap out of it. Count your blessings. Think happy thoughts.
Sadly, you cannot release the tentacles of the abyss by positive thinking, reading motivational quotes or trying alternative methods to numb the pain. It’s poison seeping into your veins and you eventually live and breathe just darkness. At some horrible moment you realise that you don’t recognise the person in the mirror. There is nothing much you enjoy any more. When was the last time you laughed and really meant it?
It gets too much: the battle between what is right for you and right for the world, the extreme heaviness of being, the emptiness of pretending.
The fight against the abyss is not a dual. You think you can, like everything else in your life: all your successes, your talents, your progress. You have your pride, your denial, your inner fighter who says you can do this by yourself as well.
When the abyss gets hold of you real good, it will start whispering that the world is a better place without you. That you will never get out of your entrapment. That the only answer to your hurt is death. That’s when the walls around you have become too high and too steep for you to climb out of. When you hear these fallacies, reach for your phone instead of reaching for something else. Only helping hands from outside can help you to pull up and out.
Suicide is the leading cause of death of young people in the UK.
The World Health Organisation’s 2015 stats say that worldwide 800 000 people have died of suicide annually and many more attempted suicide. Suicide amounts to 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, the 17th leading cause of death. In the USA, it’s the 10th leading cause. It is estimated that for every adult who commits suicide, 25 people attempt suicide. Many attempts, however, go unreported.
In the USA, the highest suicide rate of 19.6% was among adults between 45 and 65 years of age in 2015. In the same year, young people between 15 and 24 had a rate of 12.5%
Treating the symptoms of the abyss might bring you by for a while, but it cannot be eradicated by putting a plaster on it. It requires skillful major surgery and it’s therefore vital that you find an expert who can help you loosen and eventually cut off the ties that bind you.
The road to victory begins with the first step. Keep a keen eye and sharp intuition on yourself and those around you.
Ask your children, friends, partner, employees, colleagues – and continue asking: are you ok?
If you’re not, let’s talk about it. The sooner the better.
“Should’ve stayed, were there signs I ignored?
Can I help you not to hurt anymore?
We saw brilliance when the world was asleep.
There are things that we can have, but can’t keep.
If they say who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars: it flickers, flickers.
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are, we’re quicker, quicker.
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do.
The reminders pull the floor from your feet.
In the kitchen, one more chair than you need.
And you’re angry and you should be, it’s not fair.
Just ‘cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there”
– One more light by Linkin Park, 2017
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie du Preez.
This article was written by Natalie du Preez and is original content, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.