Justifying Suicide: To do it or not do it?

As depression continues to take lives amid this pandemic, we find ourselves debating and trying to justify the notion of suicide. While I write about such a word that has been creating so much chaos all over social media, I realize that we have become quite habituated to listening to this term. With each incident, we are moving one step ahead in normalizing the idea of suicide. And with each occurrence, ending one’s own life seems justified and easier in the eyes’ of those who are fighting depression. Unfortunately, they fail to notice how precious and beautiful our life can be.

I wonder what makes these people so much different than others. If we dig in a little deeper, we would know that it is more about how they think and how they see little things in extreme depth. Their brilliant mind makes them ponder about trivial matters to such an extent that they end up getting trapped in those array of thoughts.

Our mind has the ability to eliminate such kind of thoughts which create disturbance internally and lead to a state of melancholy. In case of a person undergoing a depressive phase, his/her brain lacks this ability.  And this absence has a profound effect on one’s mood. Hence, depression has been described as a mood disorder. Alongside, this is also related to the imbalance in the levels of chemicals(neurotransmitters) that stabilize our mood. The absence of such a crucial mechanism in our thought process, makes them reach a stage of depression where they get absolutely overwhelmed in the pain generated by the disease. A pain that completely differs from all sorts of somatic pain. It is utterly punishing to hold onto wisdom in these hours of pain that seems eternal. Does this make the act of suicide the road to peace?Certainly not. But, why do you think some of us fail to recognize such a subtle conception? 

It is nothing but acceptance. Firstly, the person himself fails to accept his own illness. Secondly, he is unable to gain acceptance from the world. Therefore, this shows there is a lot to be done. Instead of justifying suicidal attempts, our duty is to lend these people a helping hand. It is our responsibility to simply hear them out. Indeed, it is very easy to get overwhelmed when bouts of anxiety hit oneself. At the same time, being able to see the bigger picture is much more rewarding than losing sanity during those hours of pain.

It is not much of a difficult task to pull them out from the mesh of thoughts in which they are trapped. If seen from a religious perspective, nothing in this world lasts longer. Be it happiness, be it sadness. Similarly, depression arrives in our lives for a brief period of time. Above all, we know Dunya (means lowest form of life, where as Jannah is the highest form) is not our actual home. And we are meant to return to our real homes in the Hereafter. This says a lot.Why would you choose to give up your Hereafter for the sake of worldly peace?

Thereupon, it can be concluded that there are three majors considerations for people going through depression and anxiety. These are :proper counseling, religious guidance and faith, and the right medication. A combination of these three tools can guide a depressive mind revert back to a healthy one. And promoting such ideas should be taken into major consideration rather than wasting our valuable time attempting to justify suicide.

A glimpse of my battle against depression

As I begin to unravel my very own journey of depression and anxiety, I would like to draw attention of all those people who are yet to know the true meaning of these two terms. 

Depression is not simply sadness. It is beyond sadness and lack of happiness. Sadness can be a choice whereas depression is not. However, it is a choice whether someone is willing to fight it or just keep enduring it until they give up. Before I engage myself in distinguishing sadness from depression, I would like to highlight my personal experience on it. It has been almost a decade that I have been struggling and living with depression. It has been a part of me since I was an eight year old child. And a couple of years since I have begun to embrace it for the rest of my life. Without depression, I would not have been who I am today. To a great extent, it has shaped me as a person. I cannot put into words the immense amount of  gratitude I have for my Creator for bestowing me the ability to accept it and live with this ongoing struggle.

When I was eight, I used to have a small corner in our veranda where I used to play with my cooking set consisting of all those kitchen tools. Our window overlooked the backyard of our house with garage of the neighboring house next to it. One day, while I was playing with my set of kitchen tools a sudden realization dawned on me. I realized I was being stared at for almost half an hour. It was a stranger sitting inside that garage who kept his eyes on me for quite some time. I could sense that his gaze was not a pleasant one, instead it made me awfully uncomfortable. Given that I had experienced a minor sexual harassment back in those days that remained unshared, I could feel that I would never want such kind of attention from an elderly person. I used to ignore looking back at him and continued playing with my toys. This kept repeating in the following days. One night while I was sleeping peacefully next to my mother, I found myself struggling to wake up from a nightmare. In that nightmare, I could see that stranger following me. Everywhere I went, he followed me. Finally, I managed to come back to reality with heart racing anxiety. It was extremely difficult for me to go back to sleep as I feared that I would see the same dream over and over again.

In the upcoming days, continuing thoughts of my frightening experience engulfed me. I stopped playing in the veranda. I refused to go out and stayed in my room for most of the days as I was completely anxious. Horrific thoughts kept passing through my mind and I found myself getting trapped in those endless contemplations of something terrible happening to me. It occurred to me that as a child I was not supposed to be worried to such an extent. Slowly, I began to hate myself. I felt guilt building up inside me because of seeing that man in my dreams. This guiltiness made me depressed to the core. Struggling to get rid of anxiety that had almost crippled me, it became difficult to concentrate in my studies, get enough sleep and complete day to day activities. Today, when I look back and remember those times I realize how petty this issue was. But the fear created in me was utterly toxic. And this was my initial trigger of OCD associated with bipolar depression. Eventually, I recovered after about three weeks. I had shared it with my mother and both of us figured out ways to pull myself out from that dilemma. That stranger had disappeared somehow and was no longer seen.

Years passed by and I grew up battling with many more triggers in between. Each episode of depression and anxiety would appear after every two years. And each time there would be different reasons and sometimes, no reasons at all. Things took a turn for the worse even when I made every effort to make myself understand. It was just meaningless, uninvited anxiety residing in my head for weeks. At times, I could hear voices in my head during severe depression. Every time I pulled myself out of that dark place, I would promise myself that I would never allow myself to feel this way. Yet I did. I kept asking myself what was wrong with me? What sort of pain was it? Why couldn’t I think like others? I wondered why was I fighting this battle everyday. A battle that was within human mind. And a never ending storm. A couple of times, I felt a sense of urgency to give up and end my life. But, there was a part of me that encouraged me not to quit.

I was 17 years old when I discovered about this illness. I engaged in deep prayers, and ways of delivering positive thoughts through my mind. I practiced positive thinking religiously. I intended to cure my illness on my own. But, I was proved wrong. 

On the 16th of June’19, my depressive episode reached a stage which became absolutely impossible to deal with. I came to realize that I must seek medical advice immediately.

Confronting it has led me look into ways of eliminating the tormenting episodes of depression. I started reading self help books in order to find the antidote against this never ending sorrow. I engaged myself in deep prayers and spoke to my Creator for several minutes. 

Several non pharmacological ways helped me manage the symptoms bit by bit. Regular physical and breathing exercise stimulated the release of required neurotransmitters and feel good hormones in my brain. I explored ways of filling my mind with healthy and creative thoughts. Occupying my mind with all these ideas prevented old fears and worries from haunting me. Hence, this is what depression feels like. It is just not mere sadness. It constitutes overthinking that leads to a whole new different level of sorrow. It involves getting trapped in those horrifying thoughts, and provoking unnecessary fear(anxiety). When this sorrow crosses the threshold level, it results in panic attacks and depression. Today, depression is recognized as a real disease. People have started coming forward with their condition, sharing it, and seeking help. But before it had gained this recognition, many had failed to come forward and raise awareness about it.

At present times, there are plenty of people like me who are proud to reach out and ask for a hand. Additionally, I am looking forward to my future accomplishments when living with it.

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