I'm a suicide survivor, and when you talk about Arjun Bhardwaj, you’re talking to me

When you call those we have lost to suicide weak, it reminds me that I am weak.
I'm a suicide survivor, and when you talk about Arjun Bhardwaj, you’re talking to me
I'm a suicide survivor, and when you talk about Arjun Bhardwaj, you’re talking to me
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Suicide. The word has been getting around of late. Every few months, we lose people to suicide; but it’s best to scratch that because what we really lose them to is life itself. I’m happy that people are talking about it. I’m happy that the focus is on mental health and that maybe it can lead to change and make life worth living for those it overwhelms.

Those like me.

I have struggled with recurring depression for 18 years now and anxiety issues for 10 of them. Suicide is like that travel plan that is around the corner, but I never actually get to it. I’ve survived 3 suicide attempts, 2 of which were in the last 6 months. My mind still takes me places to what it would be like if I didn’t survive. What would people say? I don’t have to think too far, all I have to do is hold up a mirror to this society every time a life is lost.

“But she seemed so happy!”

Happiness isn’t constant in the same way that depression isn’t sadness. There’s a difference between looking depressed and being depressed. This was me on October 6th 2016:

Hours after I took this photo, I took my anxiety pills with alcohol (an absolute no-no) after reading that the mix would “induce unconsciousness, subsequent coma and eventual death”

Why was Arjun Bhardwaj smiling in his profile photo? If you ask me it was probably happiness. But happiness is fleeting. In my lowest of moments, when I’m sitting under the table and crying and resisting the urge to punch the walls until I bleed, the last thing that comes to mind is clicking a selfie.

“I wonder why she did it!”

We speculate so much as to why people do it, searching for answers and ending up with gossip. We need reasons to justify the act of suicide. Did I have one or two or three reasons that drove me to ingest those pills that day? Maybe. But it is so hard to pin point to them. As I penned down in my diary:

“The following day looks so dreadful and adding days to it would be like injecting yourself with adrenaline, one millilitre for one day. The future looks dark. Not even black, just dark. Like you’re in a forest and the lights are out and you are indeed just going around in circles. And at every point, you are reminded of every little thing that is going wrong in your life. I can imagine a day in the future where I will be so helpless and suddenly stub my toe. And it will be that pain in my toe that will drive me to hang a noose around my neck. And then people will wonder if it was my marriage or my work or my alcoholism that drove me to commit suicide. When, actually, it will just be a snowball of big and small things that ended with the stubbing of my toe, a trivial but unbearable last straw.”

“How could she do this to her loved ones!”

So much of suicidal ideation is imagining people’s lives without you. Imagining your father walking into your room and not knowing where to begin with the things you’ve left behind or your sister pondering over your will making sure every last wish is taken care of.

But I also wonder of all the pain I’ve put my family and friends through with my behavior – the outbursts, the nasty things that I say when I’m engulfed in an episode, the incessant SOS calls, the worry and the pain that I’ve put them through for 18 years.

And in those feelings of helplessness, it is this history that leads me to believe that the first few years without me maybe hard for them but in the long run, they are better off without me. Yes, it is irrational. But understand that so much of depression is your mind being taken hostage by the irrational.

“But she had so many friends!”

Here is where my story gets better. Yes I had so many friends, few who would land up at my house at the drop of a hat. And on that day one did and hid the tablets rescuing me from my own demons. As much as friends and family do amount to the support needed to recover, when things hit rock bottom, more is necessary.

A few weeks after my second attempt, I felt the ideas surge up again and decided to admit myself to a psychiatric rehab. I checked into People Tree Maarga on recommendation by my psychiatrist Dr Sandip Deshpande. I spent only one week there as it was an expensive affair. My activities were controlled, down to the timings of my shower and the number of cigarettes I smoked. I had appointments with a psychiatrist, an occupational therapist and a psychologist every day. My feelings and thoughts found an open space to express themselves while my mind and body were kept occupied. After 7 months, on the 6th day at the rehab, I woke up in the morning without regret of having done so.

We tend to feel like we have control on the way our loved one’s life turns out. When I was in the hospital, some asked, “Why did you have to do that?” I needed the help. I needed more than your hand to pull me out of the quicksand.

“<Insert your own suicide cliché>”

I’m not out of it yet. It’s been over a month since I checked out and while I wish recovery was like popping a happy pill and making it all go away, it isn’t. I have had three slip ups since I came out. I am still putting my friends and family through miserable times but riding on with the patience and love that they give me.

Recovery involves so much more than just making a to-do list and sticking to it. There are triggers to be identified and then removed or resolved. As my psychiatrist assured me, there is a way out of the maze but you will go in circles before you find it. Recovery isn’t linear; it’s slipping, falling down and standing again.

I can go on. I know that now. But there are so many clichéd statements about suicide that somehow find their way to my head.

When you call those we have lost to suicide weak, it reminds me that I am weak. When you call them selfish, it reminds me that I am selfish and the world could do without me. When you say everybody has issues, it reminds that I’m not strong enough to deal with mine.

So take it from me – an Arjun Bhardwaj that didn’t jump. When you talk about his suicide, you’re talking to people like me. Do not justify our enormously irrational thoughts. Change the conversation.

Note: Views expressed are the author's own.

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