Saying No to Re-living Old Pain

Pixabay: Hans. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.I recently wrote about a friend’s suicide, an act that took place 21-years ago.  As I read a poem I’d written after his death, I sensed a character shuffling about the edges of my consciousness.  The character was carrying a cloak; a cloak of sadness, anger, guilt and despair, brought forward from those tumultuous days.

I realized this character wanted me to wear those emotions again.

It was as if this character believed there were proper responses to a suicide—no matter how long ago it had occurred—and knew the cloak carried within it acceptable ones.  Here, wear this, she said. In case of suicide, feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and despair are allowed. I was tempted.

The thing is, I didn’t want to feel those things. I looked outside my window and the sun was shining; flowers were blooming.

Donning the cloak-of-past-emotions would not change the past.

It would, however, overshadow a beautiful present with emotions completely unrelated to the now.

I didn’t want to relive those old emotions.

I had a choice. I said no to the character and her cloak.

 

Photo source: Hans on Pixabay

 


 

A Friend’s Suicide Remembered

126_SuicidePainPoemOn Memorial Day weekend in 1998, an ex-boyfriend committed suicide. We had lived together for three years and had broken up less than a year earlier. Three weeks after his death, churned by emotions, I struggled to find ways to express the turmoil I felt.  I came across a poem I wrote back then; an attempt to describe the indescribable.

Reading it, I have memories of those days, of multiple characters in my head navigating their conflicting feelings triggered by his suicide: sadness, anger, guilt, despair. They were all part of the chaos.  At the time, I fully submerged myself in those feelings; their presence defined me. I didn’t see my emotions as the response of characters, but as me. I was the pain. I was the anger. I was the guilt.  There felt like no me beyond the emotions.

And yet, there was.  There always is, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Continue reading “A Friend’s Suicide Remembered”

Depression Isn’t Sadness and Suicide Isn’t a Cry For Help… by Steve Safran

I talk about personas and characters that chitter away in my head, critiquing how I’m doing things, often saying I’m doing things wrong. Depression takes that to levels that cripple and can destroy. I appreciate this blog and how it talks about it.  A close friend of mine committed suicide. I have periods where I see life through grey-colored glasses. When that happens, I experience life very differently; darkly. And I know that having someone tell me, “chin up,” not only doesn’t help, it generally makes me feel worse. Better understanding is a good step.

“Depression is exhausting. And it’s cruel. It tells you terrible things about yourself. That’s why Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain died. I can’t speak for their experiences, but I can speak for my own and what I know to be true from many other patients with depression: our minds become ruthless bullies. They tell us the meanest things about ourselves. They stockpile ammunition and open fire. And we have to sit there and take it because, well, it’s coming from our own brains.”

Blooms and Bubbles

Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Two gut-punching suicides that have people asking “Why them? They had it all!” Sure, Bourdain lived a hard life, but Kate Spade, the queen of whimsy? She was wealthy, adored and…

Depressed.

We need better words. One of the biggest disservices to the field of mental health is to call the diagnosis of “depression” by the name “depression.” Everyone “gets depressed.” It’s a commonplace word: “I’m so depressed the meeting I planned fell through.” “The ending of that show was too depressing.” “He’s too depressing to be around.”

None of these examples has anything to do with the psychological definition of Depression.

People who live with depression are wired differently. Our brains perceive life differently than those who do not have depression. Let me put it another way.

Suppose you were born left-handed in this predominantly right-handed world. Suppose that was considered OK from time to…

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