There’s a Facebook trending news story that was cached in my list that is absolutely breaking my heart. A mother in North Carolina reached the point of taking her own life and her children’s as well. The comments (I know, I know…don’t read them) are breaking my heart.
On the one hand we have dozens and dozens of people who understand postpartum depression and psychosis are NO JOKE and desperately need treatment. (I’d love all of those people to find us at Postpartum Progress and help us in the work we’re doing there! We welcome you with open arms!)
But then there are the people who are calling her selfish, saying they hope she “rots in Hell,” and questioning why the dog had to die too.
There are those saying she wasn’t strong enough to be a mil-spouse. Others wearing tinfoil hats preaching that this was some kind of government cover-up or revenge killing. And in the midst of it all, I read “what makes someone so sad they could do this?”
Here’s the thing.
Depression isn’t “sadness.” It’s not “oh, I don’t get to go to the mall today and buy those new shoes I’m so depressed” or “it’s raining and I really wanted to sit outside but now I can’t.”
Depression is devastating. Depression is debilitating.
Depression is “I don’t want to get out of bed because the weight of living is crushing my lungs and there’s no air.”
Depression is heaviness, sometimes manifested as physical pain. Depression is mental and physical anguish.
Depression is isolating.
Depression is often irrational. It’s a feeling of despair and hopelessness and sometimes it’s the knowledge that even though your life is pretty great, you can’t help feeling the way you feel and you desperately want to feel BETTER but you can’t figure out how. You can’t find the way. There is no light.
Depression is darkness.
Depression is also often a lying asshole.
I don’t know if this mom was depressed. News outlets so far aren’t revealing that part of her story. All we have at this point is speculation. But what I know is that rational, happy, not depressed people don’t just wake up in the morning and decide to end not only their own lives and their children. That’s not a normal reaction to stress.
All I ever wish for in moments like these, when stories like this pop up, as they all too often seem to do, is grace.
That’s what I wish for the people out there who are contemplating suicide and feeling it to be their way out. Their escape. And when or if they complete that mission, I want grace for them in their deaths.
I want compassion extended not just to the survivors but to the deceased themselves.
I want the nasty, angry commenters to breathe. Take a step back. Understand that if you’ve never felt that way–EVEN IF YOU’VE BEEN DEPRESSED–you cannot actually understand what it’s like to reach the point where suicide and/or taking the lives of those children you love is the answer.
I want hope and I want to give hope. I want to be a little light in the darkness saying “We’re here. I’m here. You can survive this” to all those people reading those comments and feeling worse about themselves and their situations.
Depression is disastrous enough. We don’t have to make it worse.