Saturday, September 4, 2010

Being a Burden

A (virtual only, unfortunately) friend wrote a blog post recently that struck home for me. It concerned depression, which I've mentioned once or twice before. The part of his post that really struck me was this line:
Lately I've been having dreams of suicide. I don't mean to scare anyone because I'm not on the verge of doing anything rash during my waking hours.
I've had similar feelings in the past*. If you've ever contemplated in a distant way or had a dream about suicide, who are you supposed to tell about it? It seems like if you mention it to anyone they'll get super overly worried about you and semi-flip out. (This is assuming you're nowhere near actually attempting to take your life--if you're ever seriously thinking about suicide, tell somebody--anybody!--about it and let them help you.) So if it's not a really serious thing, but still something to worry about (and I believe any thought/dream of suicide is), how do you go about telling someone about it?

It just feels so taboo to mention if you've ever considered the idea, however remotely. It seems like it would turn you into a burden that your friends have to worry about non-stop. So I am proud of Abelard for being brave enough to mention it and help break down those fears. I think more people would feel better about sometimes feeling that way (as opposed to letting that fact just drag them down further) if they knew other people felt that way too. Another reason Postsecret is so awesome. The end.

*I'm doing quite well right now, though, so nobody need worry.


  1. The problem is, getting, as you put it, super overly worried, etc. is such a selfish reaction. I mean, sure, no decent, caring person is like, "oh, yeah, whatever", but, at the same time, people aren't freaking out for the right reasons. Because, truthfully, no one needs that type of reaction. It's not productive. The emotion comes from, oh, my gosh, am I doing the right thing? What if I do the wrong thing? How can I react to this person correctly? If he kills himself, it'll be my fault! Oh, no!!! It's all about the person being told the information--and, clearly, it shouldn't be. There really is no "right" reaction, I think, but the closest thing to it is probably calmness, and a willingness to listen. And by listen, I mean really listen. Far too few people really do.

    And have you noticed that we all feel compelled to add disclaimers--you don't need to worry about me? I do it, too. It's as though, merely by having needs, we're somehow a burden on each other. Far too often, a certain contingent of the population doesn't want to be "burdened" by worrying about other people--and then, after something horrible happens, they say, "oh, shucks, I never saw it coming". Uh huh.

  2. Very true, C.J., it's definitely a situation that you don't want to underestimate, and I guess cries of help can come subtly so no one wants to miss such an obvious one. I think you really hit the nail on the head--we need people who really really listen to what we're saying if we're going to share deeply personal stuff with them. Thanks, that helps me sort through all my thoughts on this!

  3. honestly, a good friend recognizes that there is an issue long before you actually admit to having dreams of suicide. And a good friend will quietly do what he always does: be a friend. Because lots of times that is the best that can be done, and in lots of cases if he were to go overboard it would not only have a negative effect but would probably damage the relationship too.

    But as for admitting that you have had such dreams, I have too. Everyone has their downs in life, and they are expressed in different ways. It's in the ability to talk about them without excessive dramatics that we find a way to work through the rough patches. Then when we feel more secure we are the ones who should be helping others get through their dark times. Personally, I think more people imagine suicide than would ever admit to it, maybe for social reasons, or maybe just because it scares them so much that they would rather not think about it. While it's certainly not healthy to be having such thoughts, what IS healthy is being able to communicate them to someone who can help you get through

  4. Justin: I'm in a dish. Thanks, man!