THE SADNESS WILL NEVER END: Of suicides and depression

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of hopelessness or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling” – David Foster Wallace

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it, one gets through many a dark night” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

It was a cold Sunday morning. I woke up, feeling some type of way (sic). The day was my ‘rest day’ in the quest towards staying fit and getting a ripped body. So basically, there were no weightlifting and cardio sessions on that day. Mos def!

I rolled over towards the east side of the bed, my dick erect with the usual morning erection as I stretched my right hand to get my phone. Kai, konji na bastard, aswear. I unlocked the phone screen, scrolled to my playlist, and clicked on a song title. A fraction of a second later, Home by Passenger was oozing softly from the tiny hole that served as the phone’s speaker. I picked up the half empty bottle of booze on the ground, and took a long sip from it. Wollop! Wollop!! Wollop!!!

Arrgh, may God bless ethanol, I exclaimed.

For two days straight, I have been dejected. AND. I. KNEW. WHY. It wasn’t the state of the nation that fueled my gloom. Nope! And it wasn’t the fact that my money was stuck in MMM. Nope, wasn’t that either! It was the news of my friend’s death that haunted me; a death so surreal yet heart-wrenching. An only son gunned down by the faceless Grim Reaper. He had taken his life on that day.

He was diagnosed with cancer not too long ago. The snitch that brought the distressing news to me never mentioned the type of cancer he had. I guess my friend couldn’t go through the excruciating episode at all, so he chose the easy road by taking his life instead of the cancer cells doing so.

The day I heard the news, I sat on the edge of my bed and wondered what I could have done to save him. I noticed he had been moody for the past few weeks. Whenever we asked him what the problem was, he would make some funny excuses about MMM freezing his money. Or talk about losing a bet or two to Baba Ijebu and Nairabet. And whenever he made such funny remarks, we all laughed at the joke. But I always knew there was more to his misery than the stories he told.

Just yesterday, at the shop where they sold bush meat, ele and Okwadike’s fresh palmwine, the people gossiped about what happened. Some people were already proclaiming that he would spend eternity in hell. “A child of God doesn’t kill himself”, the chubby woman that sold akara balls muttered.

Fam and folks alike, we cannot say shit about a man’s situation if we haven’t walked a distance in his own shoes. It is pertinent to note that people react to sad events and bad news differently. There isn’t any universal code on how to react to bad news. No one made any rules pertaining to this. It is just what it is. Therefore, who are we to pass judgment on them for how they choose to deal with their pain (no matter how foolhardy their decisions might be)? Who made us lords and shieldmaidens to enforce rules on how a sad person should react to depressing and gloomy events?

Some years ago, during my paediatric posting as a house officer, I was in the oncology unit. There, I had firsthand experience of what it was like to be around patients with cancer. And No, Nah, Nahin…I am not talking about adults with cancer. I am talking about little innocent kids that didn’t hurt anyone. I questioned God. I questioned Religion. Heck, I blamed myself for not having any mystical powers to save those little kids. In my dreams, their cries and wailing haunted me, as I pictured their fragile bodies on fire. That was hell on earth for them.

So when I heard about my homeboy that took his life, I understood why. He couldn’t go through the long and excruciating pains that opioids and morphine couldn’t curb. Rather, he chose the fast and easy road.

Many suicidal folks don’t talk about the sadness for fear of being judged by insensitive folks. Most times, our reactions to such tales are to school the poor folks on how the world is ugly and filled with sad people, so their case isn’t different. Or in a more pitiable fashion, we ask them to seek the face of God (as if say God been dey hide him face before).

So in other to save themselves of any other remarks that won’t help their cause, they resort to fighting their demons themselves, by any means necessary.

When a suicidal person talks about his or her pains and trying to snuff the life away from him or herself, it isn’t to seek validation or garner pity. No, Nah, Nahin. Who validation don epp? Most times, they do so with the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel of despair; a glimmer of hope where there was hitherto, none. They have sought the help of specialists. Friends and ‘caring’ family members have told them to seek the help of anointed MOG. They have fasted and prayed but the sadness never ends.

So they talk about it; this time, with the faintest hope that there is succor where they never thought it would be; a last attempt at taking a leap of faith. Unfortunately, faith isn’t certain. So they realize that there is no coming out of their grief. And then: BOOM, BANG, BOOM…they take the life they had. The fading embers of the hope they had are finally extinguished.

Let me state for the umpteenth time: it is foolhardy to judge suicidal folks on our own terms. “Oh, he must be a coward for taking his life”, “Is she the only person suffering in this world”, “Let him go to Syria and see people that are suffering”, and bla bla bla…

I have to be honest right here. Between ‘012 and ‘014, I battled with depression; an ailment I couldn’t pinpoint what the cause was. I read books. I sought help online. Yet I couldn’t find any solution. I chose not to speak about my suicidal thoughts because I realized that people didn’t just understand the fight inside my head; the demons running helter skelter at the speed of sound within my cranium.

Ultimately, someone told me I was sad because I had stopped going to church. So I made up my mind to end my spiritual truancy. The next week, I put on my starched agbada and walked into the church. The minute I stepped foot into the hallowed chamber, I realized that it wasn’t the solution to my problem.

Then I started wondering the best way to die. I thought of putting a ‘Draco’ to my head and pulling the trigger. But that would be too painful. Then I thought about overdosing on pills like Heath Ledger. It would be more peaceful, I thought. But the coward in me wouldn’t let me.

So one early morning, I just decided not to give a phuck anymore. I made a list of un-phuck-worthy stuff and decided to rid myself of them. And then I felt better. I was free.

I. WAS. LUCKY. The one that got away.

Most suicidal folks aren’t lucky. Not everyone knows how to deal with their demons. Now imagine such a person reading a tweet by a pastor that mental ailments are from the devil, after (s)he had spent endless hours praying to God. Or a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, who is meant to prescribe continuous therapy for his patient, telling her instead to seek the help of some powerful man of God. Or a depressed person logging onto a social media platform and reading posts where folks make fun of people with mental ailments.

That, my dear readers, would be the final nail on the coffin of the little hope that they had. And we have to do better, as members of a progressive society with humanist values.

I eventually looked at my phone after I heard a sneaky sound. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol had already started playing. It was 35 minutes since I was lost in my weird thoughts. I had to get ready for the day. So I poured the last drops from the bottle of booze I had in my right hand, and said a quick prayer for the lost ones.

The sadness, really, will never end.

 

Fading score: Suicide Season by Bring Me The Horizon

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

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