“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
Suicide & Depression are two of the darkest words in our language. When people talk about their struggles with either our first instincts include eye-rolls, deep sighs, high pitched comforts, or simply walking away. But why the stigma against thoughts of killing ourselves? Why do we shy from the darkness of wanting to stop life in its tracks? Why do we see Suicide & Depression as signs of infantile weakness?
When we get sick with the flu one of the first things we tell ourselves is "Stay in bed. Rest. Heal. You'll be fine soon." And we're right. So we do. And then we bounce back to our regular selves, only stronger having now inoculated ourselves against yet another strain of virus. Sometimes we're even silly enough to try to power through a cold that escalates and we watch ourselves deteriorate slowly until the walking pneumonia pulls us right off the campaign trail. Most people realize how terribly irresponsible that is. We look at the person who is sick and coughing on us (in the airport) like they're some sort of radioactive Kryptonite with the judgement of a selfish mule. "Seriously! Stay away from others until you heal!" We want to protect ourselves from their sickness, but we're also worried about their health & well-being.
But when people struggle with spiritual and mental illness... we're not nearly as compassionate or understanding. Instead we fall into tropes like "Get over it. You're still talking about that? God never gives you more than you can bear. This too shall pass. Keep on keepin' on." But what if we started understanding Depression as the Spirit's & Mind's way of telling us we need to stay in bed, rest, and heal so we can be fine soon? What if Suicide is a natural part of our psyche alerting us to parts of ourselves we no longer need or want around but have clung to out of fear or false comfort? What if 3 weeks alone in bed is exactly what we need to get over the weight of burden we've allowed to sit on our shoulders, or if killing some part of ourselves so that another part can grow is the season we are in?
About 7 years ago I was terminated for the first time in my life from a job I had attached my ego and identity to. I loved what I was doing and who I had become while there, and when it was snatched away from I was all but literally gutted. I had psychological trauma, PTSD, identity dissonance... the list goes on. Then I realized my termination led to fundamental changes within that organization and became a Martyr. This identity of the Martyr (fancy Victim) protected me from fully attaching to grief and nervous breakdown. And me and Martyr stayed together for quite some time until I began to lose myself altogether and repeat the cycle of self-sacrifice/victim in a lot of my life. I wasn't in control and I didn't recognize the person in the mirror. I felt trapped. I was sinking. The only way out was Death. So I killed the Martyr. I murdered the Victim. Seriously. I did a ritual during which I confronted those aspects of myself, thanked them for saving me, told them our time together was over, and released them. I did that ceremony with a lot of versions of myself that no longer served me, and I broke free of my past and healed my Mind & Soul.
Autumn & Winter are the seasons of Death & Transformation. What parts of yourself are calling out to be let go? What healing is your mind and spirit saying you need? Suicide & Depression aren't only natural cycles of the Mind & Spirit, they're essential for our growth.
Know Thyself; Love Thyself; Heal Thyself. Amen.