My family, I suspect has a history of mental illnesses that we wave off as mere irresponsibility or simply, bad luck. I have an uncle who is a chronic insomniac and watching him many times, I suspect he suffers from depression. My late grandma went mad after one too many losses and I have an uncle who I suspect might be bipolar. He is an artist and having quit art for regular employment for a very long period in his life, he is now sort of a waving flag flapping in the winds of wherever life may take him. Art grounded him about a year ago, and he started making something of himself but addictions he had acquired before he got grounded still haunt him and are his ruin each time he tries to get up.
We wave it off as irresponsibility. There was a time he was homeless for a while before my uncles tracked him down and gave him a place to stay. Since then he has been passed around like a hot piece of charcoal, from relative to relative. And he craps at every chance he gets. He fucks it up bad.
I’ve never heard of him ever taken to rehab or for therapy though. He is supposed to clean up his own mess of a life and behave his age. He is clocking forty.
I will never write a suicide note to my family because of two incidents.
The first happened sometime after my first year of high school. I don’t remember exactly what was going on in the news but I think it had to do with a candidate who had committed suicide after terrible exam results. This seems most plausible because it sparked a conversation about suicide rates among youngsters. The adults directed a question to the two teenagers almost the same age as the suicide victim, my cousin and I.
“Have you ever thought of killing yourself?” they asked looking at me first. I think it was mostly rhetorical, but I did not know this and I answered with an honest “Yes”.
-Insert awkward cricket SFX.-
They were baffled for a moment and I remember suddenly feeling naked; and to cover up my embarrassment I shrugged and smiled it off. I smiled a lot back then. The adults then turned to my cousin who gave the correct answer and the conversation was steered back to normal things.
The second instance involved a diary I was careless enough to leave at home while I was at school for three months. That diary held the darkest of thoughts that I’d had in my second year of high school. It was so dark that, years later, fiercely holding on to my journals as necessary mementos of difficult past times, I burned that diary without a second thought because I truly did not want to remember the thoughts I had during that time.
My family had read that diary and teenage me never forgave them for it. So much so that afterwards, I put my journals out in the open for anyone and everyone who dared, to read. If they found something unpleasant about themselves, what problem was it of mine? If my written anger had found its target, was that not a huge win for me?
My family never asked about my mental state or the suicidal thoughts I had extensively expressed in that diary. We have never talked about the contents therein, but throughout high school and after, my mother would subtly and sometimes overtly express her displeasure at finding me writing anything; even when it was a stupid novel that had nothing to do with who had annoyed me on a given day. She featured a lot though and I think she suspected that. Actually I’m sure she knew. She told me herself twice that she had read my journals. Twice after the diary incident.
Thinking back now, I don’t know if leaving my journals unhidden was a subconscious cry for help or that I was truly too tired of life to give such small fucks. I think part of me must have hoped someone would go beyond admitting they had read my secrets, and perhaps asked how I was holding up. But that never happened. I could have killed myself as a teenager and my family would probably have burned the rest of my journals if only to forget that they knew all along and did nothing.
I have never had a real conversation about my suicidal tendencies with my family.
My sister is the only one who tried to understand my depression once when I fell into one of my spirals. After that spiral passed however, and following weeks of normalcy, it’s as if she believed my depression was gone for good and the new me would stay and become more and more normal. On one prayer session, a family member actually prayed for god to put an end to my depression, and I remember smiling to myself at the naiveté of it all.
If depression could be prayed away, I thought amusedly, I would gather all the pretense I could muster, of belief in a deity that could do this.
Sometime this year, I would like to have a serious conversation with my whole family about my depression if only for them to understand the smallest of roles they can play to help me out. There is only so much I expect from them to be honest but I would like to just be as clear as possible on a few important things.
That bridges will be burned if they do not stand by me equally when I need them as they do when they need me. I will no longer be pushed into things that will harm me psychologically, especially not by members of my own family. If people as crucial as family do not stand by me now, and support the decisions I have to make for my own good, what right do they have to bury me after I drown in my own misery? If anything, they should gather around my corpse and wait for it to rot away into nothingness; see exactly what happens to people left to their own means no matter their state of helplessness.
I would rather be buried by strangers to whom I mean nothing, than by a family who would give their regret more readily than they would their helping hand.