Picture this. You are on your way home. As you get close to your home, you notice cars parked along the road. A lot of cars. You see some leaves on the road, and you just know this is a sign of gloom. You slow down. Fear grips you. You wonder what is going on. Why are people gathered at your home?
You notice the gate to your house is wide open. You walk in slowly. Women, in their colourful zitenjes and dukus are seated on the ground. Men are sat in chairs on the veranda. Hymns are being sung, and there is a somber atmosphere. You hear cries. You walk up to the first woman you see and sit beside her. You try to talk to her.
“What’s happening here?” You ask.
She completely ignores you. You ask again, but she ignores you and looks the other way this time. You try to talk to the woman beside her. She pays no attention to you.
You get up. You go to the first man you see, seated on the veranda. You try to tap him on the shoulder, but he doesn’t respond.
“Why are you all here?” You ask.
He ignores you. Before you can react , you hear a voice through some speakers. The speaker thanks everyone for coming. He offers his condolences to the bereaved. And then, he mentions your name. They are all gathered here because of you.
You start to scream, but no one can hear you. There is no way you are at your own funeral. You become frantic, but no one can see you. You start to wail. Why am I dead? How am I dead?
You recollect yourself and walk through the door. Your loved ones are all here. Relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You look around you. You see your friends. Some, you haven’t seen in years. They are here. They are torn.
You lose it again.
You try to shake them one by one, but they don’t respond to you. You don’t remember ever seeing such a sorrowful sight in your life. Your loved ones are crashed. They are crying uncontrollably. Your name comes out of their lips and their voice is filled with a sharp pain that can cut through concrete. They are all mourning you. Yes, you.
You didn’t say goodbye.
Why did you do it?
You seemed fine when they last spoke to you.
Who will they be left with?
Then, the people that were close to you talk about you. They talk about your life. How you changed the course of their life because one day, you encouraged them to do something they were scared of doing. They talk about how much you loved to laugh. How you smiled brightly. How funny your puns were. They talk about how you cared about the people around you, and how selfless you truly were. Another talks about how hard you worked. You never complained. You were a beautiful soul, they say.
You want to tell them you are here. You can hear them. As you remember what happened, you try to explain that you were dying inside and nobody seemed to notice. That you did complain that life was heavy on your shoulders but they told you to just shrug it off, and to just be grateful. That at the time, that seemed like your only choice. And you want to say how sorry you are to have hurt them.
Then, you realise, you want to go back in time and undo what you did. You see how much pain your loved ones are in. You can’t believe how much love they all have for you. You want to go back and seek help… tell them the smiles were hiding a lot of sadness. The hard work drained you. You want to go back, fight the urge to take that rope and end your own life.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and the theme is “Creating Hope Through Action”. I am hoping what I’ve written doesn’t guilt-trip anyone struggling with mental health to stay alive simply because it will cause pain to others (I realise it’s more complex than that). I want to remind you that you are valued, loved and thought highly of.
I also want to urge everyone to tell people around them how they truly feel about them now, while they are still alive. On birthdays, tell your loved ones how their actions have impacted you, the way you would a eulogy (osamangoti “HBD” “happy womb escape day” “me konda you” basi). Truly express how you feel about them. Do it often and unapologetically. It might save a life.
Seek professional help. Reach out, and give others a chance to help you. Know that you are not alone.
Read my post on my struggle with depression here