Friday, 15 August 2014

"Don't kill yourself. It's so selfish."

I'm not sure how to start this. I want to write something about why I wanted to write about suicide, and why I wanted to explore the quoted statement in the title. I suppose that the reason that this is so prevalent in my mind is due to Robin Williams' death, which I woke up to discover via Facebook on Tuesday. From talking to people, those I know through my experience with mental health; professionals and friends, these were the people who were sad, but non-judgemental. They didn't think badly of Robin Williams for how his life ended. It was respectful sadness, I think, more than anything else.

One of the main themes that I noticed from people I have spoken to and various articles I have seen on the internet, was that Robin Williams was selfish, that those suffering from depression and addiction are selfish, as my boss so delicately put it on Tuesday, as I finished my shift. I very much had to bite my tongue.

Selfishness implies that someone does something to spite someone else, with a sole focus upon themselves to the detriment of others. Selfishness, in society, is seen as a bad thing. We are all supposed to be 'busy' and the only time we are 'allowed' to take to ourselves, well, we have to have a reason for it. If you book time off work, the question you're met with is "why? What are you doing with yourself on your break?" If you answer with something along the lines of "nothing", you're met with raised eyebrows and loaded pauses. We are in a society where we cannot love ourselves for fear of this shutting down the whole economy. We are distrustful of others, we feel disconnected, so many of the population will state that they are "fine" and smile, with exhaustion itching at the eyes fighting to stay upwards within that smile.

I'm not saying that everybody is depressed, that everybody is tired, but from talking to the customers in my work, it sure seems that way. When I ask someone if they have had a busy day, the answer is always "yes", with a sigh biting at its heels. I wonder why. If I ask a customer if it'll calm down soon, the answer is usually 'no', followed by a wry smile. Being busy is something to be proud of, which is funny, considering only the UK figures for the number of people on anti-depressant medication last year - the highest ever, if I remember correctly. Doesn't this suggest that we need to change society? That we need to change our outlook somehow? That we are under too much pressure to conform?

I'm not trying to minimise depression - I experience it myself, I would hardly trivialise it. I am merely stating an observation, perhaps.

Using my own experience of when I tried to kill myself, I remember that some of the first words I heard were "stupid", "idiotic" and "do you never think about me, about anybody else?" And I felt sick. Sick at what I was doing to other people, yet trapped inside this whirlwind of emotions, of the kick in the gut of how much I hurt physically and mentally, but I wasn't allowed to escape that for fear of hurting other people. Other people. Think about that for a second. Instead of asking why I wanted to kill myself, why I wanted to hurt myself so much and why I was hurting so much, I had to think about other people. I think that my rather sarcastic response, when talking about this 'selfish' view of suicide that had been thrust onto me, was that it was selfish for other people to tell me to stay alive for them. It works both ways.

Suicide, in my eyes, isn't selfish. It's when you get so overwhelmed with everything that you don't see any other way out. It's when you think that you are such a horrible, terrible, evil person, you think it will be a blessing on others if you were no longer around. Even if it was selfish, what is so wrong about being selfish sometimes? Why is 'selfish' such a bad word? Why is it not okay to do something for ourselves? I'm not condoning suicide, really I'm not, it's always sad (more than sad, but I do not have the words) that someone doesn't see another way out, but I think that sometimes, it is okay to take some time for you. That might be reading that book that's been collecting dust on your shelf for months, or going for a ten minute walk, or a run, or plaiting a bracelet, or having a bubble bath... something that you enjoy. Something that is for you because heck, you work damn hard and you deserve to do something nice! Everyone does. No exceptions.

I'm not sure what the purpose of writing this post is. I don't think that I planned to go off on as many tangents as I have done but I wanted to write something. I hope that's okay.

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