The week’s news was filled with the loss of two greats to suicide, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. In reading the coverage, the most informed sources reference the reality of depression. It is misunderstood by many, except by those who live with it. Jenny Lawson in her blog and in her books, speaks often about what it’s truly like to live with this disease:
She openly and honestly describes how difficult it is to simply get up everyday and fight through it. She is a magnificent author who is brilliant and funny. I strongly suggest you check her out.
What I love about this particular blog post is how she describes her great-grandmother’s death in a mental institution. She describes her mental illness as a secret. I too am part of a family which was constantly shrouded in secrets. I only learned the stories as I grew older. While I am still reticent to share those tales to protect those that still walk this planet, I also know that memoir is only most powerful when the truth is told. Suicide, violence and substance abuse were alive and well in some of the tragedies of my ancestors. Genes don’t lie; and their most basic job is to replicate.
Our human condition can be a dark one. And there are those suffering constantly all around us, no matter how adept they have become in hiding it. Ours is a culture of posting only the highlights to Facebook, while the darkest of moments are consistently endured alone. Depression typically leads to isolation because most do not understand what to do with those around them who experience it. There are those trained to help in today’s society, where as in decades past people were placed in horrific conditions to waste away.
I applaud those who have the courage these days to post not only the good, but the bad. Those who speak the truth to me are the most heroic and should be the most lauded. Hemingway said it best when he said,
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
To me, this honesty is particularly crucial in today’s time and place, more than ever. About 45,000 people die each year by suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This life is not an easy one and some have it easier than others. But most importantly, some appear to have it easier than others. You never know someone’s story until you ask.
3 thoughts on “The Dark”
So true, Lisa. This past week certainly makes us pause. And my poor sister, who failed several attempts, still sits in a nursing home today.
Thanks for sharing.
I too have experience with family secrets-those that are on a deeper level like, “Your grandfather was adopted”, but also those that occur on a more everyday basis such as hiding small truths from friends / family members out of fear of disagreement or to make the everyday go smoother. I can’t help but think that the latter can help isolate people from those around them. Coming from a family where small secrets is a way of life, my wife and I work to not keep anything from each other, no matter how small, as to us each little hidden truth creates a small separation between us. This small separation may be true for other relationships as well. I am fearful that a lack of transparency over time will snowball into people gaps that become too wide for me to negotiate.
That is a wonderful and thoughtful point. Thank you so much for reading and contributing.