This past week I was asked to speak on mental health at a candlelight vigil for someone lost far too soon to suicide.
This is what I shared.
Depression is a liar.
I’ve never considered suicide. Not because I thought there was hope or that things would get better. No, when I was at my lowest point and the depression had taken over, my inherent fear of dying is what kept me alive. But that’s the thing about depression. It engulfs you until all that’s left are negative emotions. It replaces hope with despair, happiness with emptiness, and love with loneliness. Because depression is a liar. It will poke and prod until you can no longer see the good things about yourself or the world, and, without help, it will continue to eat away at you until there is nothing left but darkness.
And postpartum depression is the cruelest of them all. The same body, your body, that created a beautiful being, that brought new life into this world, it can turn on you in an instant. You’ve spent your whole life learning to accept and trust yourself, and now what? Your very being is telling you that you’re not enough. But, depression is a cold-hearted liar.
Suicide prevention stresses us to “look for the signs.” And then, we inevitably blame ourselves when we didn’t know, when we couldn’t save them. The thing is, the signs, the withdrawal or acting out, or recklessness, those are valid, but they’re also more often seen in teenagers. See, as adults, we’ve become so adept at masking our emotions, at building up our defenses, our walls, that even those closest to us, especially those closest to us, we make certain that they don’t see anything at all. We’re trained to spare others our pain.
So, how can we fight against the darkness? And trust me, for those of us who suffer everyday, it is an ongoing fight for survival. But has a battle ever been won with just one? No. The battle against depression cannot be won solely within. Because depression has already convinced us that we will never win. But, depression is a liar.
You don’t have to raise your hand, you certainly can if you want. How many people here have had feelings of immense emptiness? How many mothers have been engulfed in worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy? How many of us have thought, even for a moment, that maybe it would be easier to just not exist at all?
At 28 years old, I had been fighting all my life against the darkness, and I was so, so tired. It wasn’t until my therapist pulled me out of its depths that I felt like I could continue the fight, that I started to hope and dream and do again. I am certain I could not have gotten through that time without help. Looking back, depression took a lot from me. And I often wonder what could have been different had I gotten help sooner. But honestly, I didn’t know. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to feel the way I did. I thought it was something I had to live with, and far too often, so do those who can no longer endure the fight.
If I had heard me here today, back then, just maybe, I would’ve reached out for help before 28. We’ve come a long way in normalizing mental health, but, if today tells us anything, it's that we haven’t made it far enough. We still have work to do.
So, I implore you. Talk to each other. Be vulnerable. Ask for help. Reach out to your strong friends. And, be bold in your conversations about mental health.
You are so, so very not alone.
- Chelsea Borruano
It's national suicide prevention week. As this project has evolved, I've gotten a lot of questions about losing someone to suicide. What are the signs? What could I have done differently? How do I get past the guilt? The short answer, I honestly don't know. The long answer, well, there are warning signs but they're usually minute, if they show outwardly at all. I believe it starts with being open and bold in our conversations about mental health, depression, suicide, self-harm, addiction, etc.
The guilt question is the hardest for me to address. I think, as human beings, we're wired for it; and someone you love taking their own life will leave you with more questions than answers. The more uncertainty we face, the easier it is to look inward and blame ourselves. All I can offer is this, depression is a disease and for some, it's a losing battle. You don't blame yourself for the person you love getting cancer so why do we think we can take on the weight of depression? The hope I have is that, while cancer is more or less in the hands of science and skilled medical professionals, mental health support isn't. We have resources, and they're growing everyday. We're having the right conversations. We're erasing stigmas. We're making medical advancements in treatment. And we're not doing it alone anymore.
So, to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, You Aren't Alone. We are better together and the world is a better place with YOU in it. Please don't take that away. Today, choose to stay.
For more information and resources, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you think someone is thinking about suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Here’s how to talk to someone who may be struggling with their mental health.