Understanding Suicide and Depression

“I just don’t understand.”

Those words might seem trivial, but when someone is honest about not understanding my illness, it is refreshing. So often, people try to belittle my depression, anxiety, or other mental health problem by reducing it to something they can understand. “We all have anxiety.”  “I sometimes don’t like how I look either.” “No one is happy all of the time.

These sayings might be true, but they can reduce the struggle that millions of people face daily. Instead, sometimes the best option is to simply listen and admit that you do not understand what someone is going through despite your love for them.

This video really touched me. For one thing, it shows the love of a family and how everyone close to someone who commits suicide is affected. Also, it illustrates the agony of mental illness and lack of understanding about it.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. Thus, I easily forget how strange my thinking seems to others. My mental health problems do not make me a freak. However, realizing that my feelings and thoughts are abnormal can actually be helpful. Not everyone feels the urge to kill themselves while driving; not everyone cringes with fear whenever a stranger passes by; not everyone feels like they are slipping into a dark pit. The reality of these miseries in my life does not mean that others understand why I do what I do.

Honestly, none of us can fully understand others. We can try to empathize and relate to certain situations. Being humble enough to listen instead of assuming that we know best is a difficult skill but important if you want to care for people. I fail to do this all to often. Thus, I am going to work on thinking before stating that “I understand.” Instead, my response will be “Help me to understand that” followed by listening to my friend or family member.


14 thoughts on “Understanding Suicide and Depression

  1. phoenix42013 says:

    Excellent post. I thank you so much for writing and sharing this.

  2. “When someone says you don’t understand they don’t want to be understood” ~AmazinglyBrash~
    When someone listens to you can connect are you open to the fact they may understand? When you seek help are you open to the fact that though you are going through this, experts may understand it more than you do? Often people maintain pain to feel different but we are all more the same than we think. Relating has nothing to do with belittling and everything to do with showing you can beat it with help. Problems aren’t usual individualized but how we internalize them can be. We must understand their are healthier ways before we live a healthier life. So open up to the idea that you may not be alone, your just not ready to be together

    • Thanks for bringing up some important points to think about. I am indeed open to others understanding. After many months in group therapy and openness to others, I have found many people who understand. It is true that we can stay in our own little bubbles and not open up to others. However, many people honestly do not understand the deep enduring darkness of depression and how it makes one long for death. Mental illness is often misunderstood. Experts do understand but can only imagine the pain unless they have come through a similar situation. We are all similar but all have different experiences. I am not trying to get at people who truly understand. However many people (including myself) say “I understand” just to placate someone. Being sad or not liking your body is not the same as having depression or an eating disorder. We need to listen to others and attempt to relate to them but not assume that we know their struggles. Unless you really do understand, it is rather belittling to say that you.

      • Someone is speaking to you about watching their parents murdered in front of them….what do you say? They go on to tell you haven’t experienced it so you can’t help them….is that true? The healthiest people are the best people to push others to be healthy. If you understand that positivity will assist you in the management of your issues, why would you push away people that keep you positive. People with mental disorders tend to think every relationship is about them but relationships are about two people lift each other through life. Where one is weak the other will challenge them to be strong. Its not about understanding the problem more than understanding the solution (and in your case maintaining a health thought pattern).

        • Oh, we can certainly help one another. However, that does not mean that we always understand them. You are right that it is about being positive. I am bit confused because I never said that I would push away people who are positive. Those are friends who I certainly keep near whether or not they understand me. We can learn from each person that we encounter and they can help us in unique ways. Please do not generalize that people with mental illness think everything is about them. It can be a trait of mental illness, but that is a very unkind generalization.

          • I truly believe that being understood stems from us being able to truly articulate what we are going through. If we aren’t clear then people will conclude they know more from our lack of clarity. I could have been projected “the positivity being pushed away part” because when someone says “you don’t understand” they are typically shutting down. So that may not included you but it has been my experience. I know generalizations may offend people but so does truth. If you reread what I wrote I used the word “tend” meaning it may not always apply….but it does tend to imply. I do make bold statements not to offend but to provoke thought.

          • Thank you for provoking thought. As I said before, you have brought up some very good points that are great to think about just as I was intending to do with my post. Articulating something can help others to understand. Sadly, there are some things that people cannot fully articulate with words. When we open up to others, they do understand us better. I have found this true numerous times. It is easy to just accuse others of not understanding and shutting down instead of allowing in help.

          • No problem, I dont mine talking about the hard topics and challenging others to do the same. If I am not accurate, I will challenge people to show me where I missed the bulleye. It’s great that you put yourself out there and I hope you continue to do so. It will encourage people to feel more relaxed speaking about anything that is hard for them to tackle. This is our life to live and you shouldn’t be trapped off from the world because you have some hardships….force the world to embrace you but make sure you remember to embrace the part of the world you deem perfect and attempt to change the rest. My aim in this discussion with you was to encourage you to never settle for people that don’t take the time to understand you when you can live a life of being understood; but always be open to the fact that people may understand you more than you think but you haven’t reached the place were they are yet. Your living day to day so fight your conditions daily so your life doesn’t revolve around them.

          • Thank you for challenging me and others to live that way! It is important to be open to others and not let our struggles isolate us.

          • Nice speaking to you

  3. MEM says:

    I agree that it is an unkind generalization that people with mental illness think every relationship is about them. AmazinglyBrash did say that people “tend” to think this. I have met many people who are deeply compassionate toward others, probably because of their mental illnesses.

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