I was always a melancholic.
As a teenager I used to refer to myself as “little sad boy” when complaining to my family. I was depressed, but I could not quite verbalize it. The most powerful memory from my boyhood is a mental image of myself standing on a balcony, getting ready to jump.
I did not actually attempt to do that, but the thought of comforted me a little, and every day I was getting closer to the edge.
I am also very emotional and direct — but at the same time introverted. This is a recipe for confusion; your emotions are super-strong, but you don’t know how to express them.
But then it got better. The pattern of how I dealt with my emotions has changed. Instead of long periods of depression, I have started to experience short seizures, akin to episodes of an epileptic nature. This change provided some relief and I felt better. I found friends and had some great life experiences.
But then, recently, it switched back.
I became very depressed, for about a year or so. Not because something horrible happened – just because life was not how it used to be, and for various other reasons.
The new experiences and realizations I had acquired in my life were too much for me to bear.
Every day the first thing I realized each time I woke up was how much I hated to see the dawn of another day. The hopelessness and pain inside my head went from bad to worse, day by day.
I started beating myself.
I have learnt that physical pain is nothing compared to mental pain, so I wanted to replace the one with the other. I did not tell anyone about this . I wanted to conceal my pain.
You see, I did not want to hurt anyone else.
So I would give myself smacks on the head or on the chest, or would beat my head against the wall until I became physically drained. And then I would relieve my stress, and cry hysterically to get drained emotionally.
If you are still reading this text, by now you will have realized that I obviously needed some professional help. And I reached out for it. But it did not help. No matter how I tried, how many different things and approaches I used, I still felt miserable. Time and time again, I broke down in the most embarrassing situations. Some started to avoid me.
And then I found myself once again on the balcony of my flat, ready to jump — literally, this time. I just wanted it to stop hurting. I could not go on. I tried everything and nothing helped.
Just one thing kept me alive (apart from my family): I was able to talk about my problems, to verbalise them, and I was not afraid to involve many of my friends and acquaintances in the discussion. I have learned how to dissect my feelings and draw parallels to explain what exactly do I feel . . . and why.
And then a great thing happened: people started to share their own stories. Almost a dozen of my friends told me they had been seeing a psychiatrist at some point in their lives. I was amazed: many of those seemingly composed people had fought against reclusiveness, self-loathing, panic attacks and depression — to the extent that it had become a matter of life and death.
You see, in our society we are not told how to speak of mental health. It is stigmatized, tabooed.
Professional help is something left for those “crazy” or “cuckoo”. At the same, time suicide is one of the leading causes of death in any country, even though in most cases its causes are completely preventable and treatable.
When you make this first step and open up, people feel safe and see that they can share their own problem with you, and that you will understand and be compassionate. They know they do not have to have to pretend. And having gone through this, you will both be more humane and help one another, because talking WILL make it easier.
And more talking – easier still.
Your neighbour is unaware how you feel, inside. Some will offer you advice that sounds heartless and meaningless, like “you have so much to live for”, or “you are ungrateful”. And in a way they are right in their way, although they do not know that rationalising does not work.
But there will be others.
Those who will understand, and make you feel safe. And their existence will be the rock upon which you will build your way to recovery.
To being useful.
To being happy.
I am still here today and I feel better because I learned how to talk. I was blessed with family and friends who did not judge me.
Hard as it is to make the first step, YOU have to do it. When you are feeling down, it is almost unthinkable that you could go and admit your problem to somebody else, but there is no other way out alive.