Suicide, Depression & The Spirit
Every day there are people who struggle with deep sadness about their person, their life, their job or as the result of an experience they've had. Some folks move in and out of depression easily, while others get stuck in it. Feeling sad or depressed happens to everyone, and it's normal to feel sad and depressed sometimes. No one is happy 100% of the time. It's impossible, and even if it were possible - life would be eventually become pretty boring if there was no contrast. Balance requires contrast.
Depression is different for everyone. Sometimes a person finds themselves in situations they have no idea how to get out of so often they become frustrated and eventually depressed as a result. Other times, people don't feel that they are worth the effort it will take to keep trying different ways to get out of whatever it is they've found themselves in, and the lack of self worth is at the root of the depression. Sometimes, their Spirit can't maintain a connection to all the other Spirits and to God, so it can no longer guide them through life.
When a celebrity takes their own life, the media jumps on it right away. Big headlines fill television and computer screens, and radio talk show hosts pull out all the 'experts' to talk about why the person might have took their life even though the 'expert' didn't know the celebrity and likely never even met them. Here's the thing: celebrities might have more money and material things than the average Joe, but they still live life and have life problems. Money, material possessions and fame doesn't help you figure out how to do life. It fills your fancy house with fancy stuff, but fancy things can't help you when you're emotionally stuck.
Counseling centers, psychologists, help lines, and every other kind of organization that hopes to help people make sure to put out a life line - literally - for people who are struggling. On social media, memes that intend to bring awareness to depression, suicide prevention, and mental illness go into full force and make the rounds again. People like, share and retweet, which makes them feel that they've done their part in bringing awareness to the sad and scary topics of suicide, mental health and depression. The truth is - the majority of the people sharing these memes are more likely to criticize, judge and condemn someone who is struggling with an emotional issue, than have genuine compassion for that person - and the person who is struggling knows that. The hypocrisy adds to the loneliness, which in turn fuels the frustration, anger, and bitterness, ultimately contributing to the problem rather than offering that intended life line.
Genuine compassion is a rare commodity because in order to feel genuine compassion, one needs to understand and know that all people are equal - regardless of their race, social status or sexual orientation - and the majority of people are not able to do that. Why? For two reasons: 1) the majority of people believe a person's identity requires a label, so they assign labels to themselves and others, and labels divide rather than unite. 2) most people have no idea who they really are - let alone who anyone else is, so understanding and compassion are completely out of the question.
Several years ago - shortly before my brother took his own life - I read an article that explained suicide from a very different perspective - a Spiritual one. The article posed the idea that the life lessons a Spirit chose turned out to be far too difficult. It went on to explain that the Spirit was likely too young, and hadn't yet gathered enough knowledge to deal with those particular challenges. The best choice for them was to completely let go of this life and go back to the safety and comfort of the hands of God. I remember thinking about this article in the days after my brother's funeral, and thinking that his Spirit sure chose difficult challenges to overcome while at the same time realizing that we really are given everything we need to get through an experience at the right time if we're open to receiving it. I don't believe that it is coincidence that I came across this article just weeks before my brother took his life.
When my brother committed suicide, I felt an incredible amount of guilt. How did I not see this coming? Why did I not see the signs? There had to be signs - right? How could I have not seen that he was so depressed? Isn't that why people kill themselves? I had spent over twenty years studying psychology, and had just completed a holistic counseling course that took the better part of a year, and I didn't have a clue. How could this be? Because intellect isn't the be all end all, and sometimes depression is not involved in suicide.
At the time, my mind was great at analyzing things. I was taught to analyze and I was good at it. Picking stuff apart. Categorizing and recognizing traits and symptoms. I was good at labeling. Most importantly - my ego was strong. I was all science brain and only a small part of me was Spiritually connected - but thankfully, I paid attention to that small part.
Two days before my brother's suicide, I was sitting outside in the backyard of my best friend's house in Calgary - a city eight hours drive away from my brother. I was overcome with a feeling that I needed to get home. I didn't know why, but when I got those feelings, I always paid attention. I went in the house and immediately announced to my friend that I would be leaving the next day to go back to Regina.
At nine o'clock the next morning - January 7, 2011, I loaded up my Chevy Blazer 4-wheel drive and started on the road to Regina. By noon, the highways surrounding the city I had just left were closed due to an intense winter storm. It took a little longer to drive home that day, because the roads two hours outside of Regina were also icy and treacherous after a storm had passed through that area. When I finally got home, I called my brother, who had been looking after my house while I was away, and told him that I was home. He was really pleased I had come home that day and said he'd stop by the next day (Saturday) for a visit.
Saturday January 8, 2011, was the last time I would ever see my brother. We had coffee and cookies and talked about our Christmas holidays. He had gone down to Estevan to visit some friends for Christmas, while I was out in Calgary. He asked me if I would order an Elvis collector's thing for him online because he didn't have a credit card and he didn't know how to order stuff online. It was a typical visit with my brother, although I could tell there was something going on with him. My brother was 'different'. He was diagnosed with dyslexia, OCD and a bunch of other labels, and his cognitive level was that of about grade 6. He had been on antidepressants after our dad died, and had attempted suicide many years before - shortly after his idol Elvis died. He had a 'mental health history'.
Because of these labels, anyone who knew him was used to him behaving 'differently'. I told him that I had decided to move to Calgary later in the year, and he said he was happy that I was moving to a place he knew I loved. As he was walking out the door, he said he'd be back on Thursday to pay me for the Elvis thing I ordered for him. He left my house, drove home and sat in his vehicle inside his garage with the engine running until his body was overcome with carbon monoxide and he died. The following Tuesday morning, I received a call from a person he worked with informing me that he hadn't shown up at work, he hadn't called in sick, and could I please call the police to check on him. This person had known my brother for many years, knew about his OCD and knew that this was WAY out of character for him. I immediately knew the truth of what had happened. I knew he was gone and that he had taken his own life. All at once it hit me - I was given a Divine message to go home because I needed to see him one more time.
It took a long time for me to forgive myself, my brother and God. Why was I given the message to go home, but not the message of what was going to happen?
There is a bigger plan, and like Gandalf says, no one can see all ends. There was nothing I, or anyone else could have done to keep my brother from taking his life. For anyone to think that they can is all ego. Arrogance actually, and most of all - fear. Death is the one thing everyone who doesn't have a loving relationship with God fears.
I eventually learned that I didn't have genuine compassion for my brother. I had an intellectual understanding of his 'condition', but I didn't have genuine compassion for him. I didn't have genuine compassion for myself! I certainly thought I did, but as I eventually learned - you can't give away what you don't first possess. You won't ever have true compassion until you learn to see all people as equal.
Start with your own self first. Find out who you really are. Learn the hows and whys of you. You have to be completely honest with yourself before you'll ever be completely honest with anyone else. Consider the idea that your mind is connected to your body, and both your mind and body is connected to your Spirit. Be open to the idea of a power greater to yourself; learn about that power and form a relationship with it. Balance your mind with your body and your Spirit, and then you'll then be able to extend true compassion to others.
I still don't have all the answers - I don't think anyone does - but I now know that when I'm meant to - the answers will find their way to me.
Take care of yourself, and thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you learned something that can help you - help yourself!