One More Light

It’s been 8 months since I’ve been able to write anything. My last post, and the preceding event, took everything out of me. I’ve had a few shocks and a lot of losses in my life and that one will always be significant. To have the death of someone I’ve never met hit me so hard was a surprise. I’d seen persons react to the passing of other stars, other icons, and while I’d felt the impact, I had managed to remain somewhat detached from them. Chester Bennington’s death felt personal to me. The loss and the manner of it created a crack in my heart that I’m not sure will heal. ‘RIP Chester’ still appends my WhatsApp PM; I can’t delete it. It’s still so hard to listen to the songs. I’m pretty sure I’m going to cry before the end of this post. The hardest song to listen to is One More Light’. The words mean so much more now. So very much more. Chester Bennington was one of the brightest lights this world has ever seen. The loss of that light was heart-breaking. The impact of his music cannot be overstated. The effects of his advocacy should never be forgotten. His loss is a devastating one and I cannot imagine how the day to day lives of his family and friends is flowing without his presence.

I saw some comments in the wake of his death that shook me to my core. I cannot understand why in the face of such a tragedy, the loss of life, any life, that people would choose to be judgemental and hateful and accusatory. There was a frightening ignorance to some of the comments. A lot of it caused me to withdraw. I struggled for a few months with depression and it took so much not to let it drag me back down to rock bottom. It’s still a bit of a challenge, especially since I haven’t been able to write anything since. I feel like a soda bottle that’s been shaken and shaken and shaken and now all that pressure needs an escape. So, before the cap flies off and everything comes flying out, I’m going to try to get back into the groove of writing and let that pressure release a little at a time. In order to do that, I need to address the comments that bothered me the most. I won’t focus on the trolls. I can’t. That demographic has their own mental and emotional issues with which to contend and I can only hope that they will seek help and stop spreading hate and divisiveness wherever they go.

It seemed there were and still are a lot of persons who lack even a basic understanding of depression and mental health issues in general. A lot of persons have preconceived notions of what depression looks, sounds and feels like. It’s difficult to comprehend that someone who has a job, a family or simply the ability to get up, show up and function in society could otherwise be struggling. Many think someone who is depressed should look depressed every day. We shouldn’t smile or laugh or interact with our peers. We shouldn’t be able to function in and contribute to society. And if we do, if we can, we shouldn’t complain or speak about depression.

That level of judgement is deadly. We all have our issues. We all have our pains. Many of us have something that if unchecked, can overwhelm us at intervals and make us feel like we need to retreat from life. Please don’t assume that a person does not have issues simply because you do not see them. Please be understanding in the face of any such revelation. You can do the research and get familiar with the issues surrounding mental health. But even if you are not so inclined, please, tread lightly and be kind. You don’t have to understand depression in order to have respect for it or defer to persons who live with it.

The were also expressions of bewilderment. There were persons who wondered how anyone could make that choice. Often accompanying that was the accusation of selfishness. How could a person do that to their family and friends? Isn’t it so much worse to force them to live without you? Doesn’t the trauma of the loss outweigh all?

Let me see how best I can explain. In some instances, the pain is so great that there seems to be no other choice. You can’t see or think or function past it. There’s nothing else. Whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain or mental anguish, there’s nothing else. In that moment, you can’t see that there can be anything else. It feels as though there’s only one way to end it. Yes, that’s perception. But perception is reality, regardless how irrational it may seem to others. Because rationally, we all know that there’s more. We all know that it will pass and we can go back to normal and enjoy things again, even for a while. But in that moment of deep pain, rationality takes a back seat. Hell, it might even get out of the vehicle altogether. At any given time, you, yes you, might interact with someone in that very moment. Friend, family member, co-worker, random person on the street, and so I appeal to you, to tread lightly and be kind.

As it relates those thinking the act of suicide is selfish, that their actions have caused more pain for their families and friends. Understandable. For those of us who have lost a loved one, we know the pain of grief. The stress and the heartache that comes with saying goodbye and the years of fielding memories good and bad. And so, it’s hard to understand why anyone would put their own loved ones through that. Please try to understand, at that moment, it actually feels like you’re doing your friends and family a favour. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. It’s not easy being friend or family or partner to a person living with depression. It’s not easy watching them hit that spiral, knowing that there’s little or nothing you can do. And for us, it’s not easy seeing the fear or disappointment or uncertainty of those we love. It’s not easy knowing that we cause them pain when we withdraw and shut them out. Missing important events, not enjoying the ones we show up for, knowing that everyone knows what’s happening but can’t do anything. We know it’s hard to live with us… and so in that moment, we wonder if you wouldn’t be better off without us. And it’s so easy to convince ourselves at that time. We feel like we’ve been such a burden and believe that we will continue to be. We may have forgotten the love and the care you’ve shown us, the understanding up to that point. And we think you’ll move on. We know the pain will eventually lessen and feel that the pain of losing us will be less than the pain of living with us.

If you’ve never experienced depression then it’s almost impossible for you to fully understand these things. What’s most important is this: the absolute last thing anyone needs is judgement. None of us can ever fully comprehend what another person is experiencing in life. We can’t really fathom what drives anyone to do anything. The best we can do is try to be a light in the darkness. Please be kind. Please show respect to everyone with whom you interact. Please do your best to avoid being the source or cause of another person’s pain.

In the world today, we need as many lights as possible. And I care if one more light goes out. If you are struggling, please, please seek help. There is always someone willing to listen. Seek them out. Reach out to a friend, sit with them and talk. Find an outlet, a hobby – read, write, run, knit. Figure out what you love, do more of it. Whatever it takes to change your focus and bring you back from the edge. This article provides some incredibly important information that could be useful to anyone with mental health issues. And keep holding on. Someone loves you, will miss you and will never stop grieving for you.

One thought on “One More Light

  1. This needs to be spoken about more often. People can be depressed and function. I know.

    People you live with can miss it if they’re not looking close enough.

    Keep highlighting this issue – someone my just learn something.

    Liked by 1 person

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