My sister won’t mind me saying, she is depressed. Not greatly upset, or suffering from Seasonal Affective Depression. But actually depressed. After 3 kids, all of which have led to a bout of Post Natal Depression (thanks hormones).
This is the real deal. She’s literally given up on living, simply existing. She wakes up, gets the kids ready for school and then nothing until around 3pm when she picks the kids back up, cooks dinner, puts the kids to bed.
Her life has an inertia, and it really is debilitating. Not because she’s not bright, or hard working. But because when you spend the last 15 years raising babies, none of which you planned for your options are limited until they can fend for themselves for an hour or so while you’re working.
We all, male and female go through depression at some stage of our lives, be that through grief, loss or something more sinister, but most of us bounce back. The few that don’t however get stuck in a rut. A downward spiral that until you hit the rock bottom you can’t rebuild yourself and claw your way out.
So it makes my blood boil that benefits agencies are asking people why they haven’t committed suicide. Such a blasé, throw away question that sounds as simple to answer as what someone’s planning to make for lunch.
There is a very good reason why so many depressed people don’t kill themselves, and that is because the human body is hard wired to survive. Self preservation. We don’t want to hurt ourselves, and most sane people also don’t want to hurt others. Hence why we tell children to be careful when running, instinctively hold our hands out when crossing the road, and are constantly vigilant when watching our charges in the park in case of stranger danger.
The question, ‘Why haven’t you killed yourself’ is not only offensive but insulting. Insulting because the person being asked may only just be holding on by a thread. Or simply fighting through because they have children or others that depend on them.
And these people asking the question aren’t even trained mental health workers, they’re box tickers. Pen pushers. People that send forms off to the government to say whether you can or can’t receive state funded help.
Were it an actual psychiatrist, who understands and knows how the brain works, the question would be less offensive and also worded better. They would know how to get details out without offending.
Depression isn’t something to take lightly, it’s not a fad, it’s a real thing and it can be very dangerous, and when insensitive questions like that come up, it can actually plant seeds in the head. It’s a very dangerous tactic to employ especially when someone’s mental health is at stake.
Just think about that for a second. If you had a friend or relative who was struggling to cope, would you want them being asked such crude questions?