I pray for strength, patience, diligence, love, compassion and wisdom.
“Don’t worry, I won’t kill myself; I couldn’t do that to my family and my friends… I wouldn’t mind if something happened to me though.”
To hear how someone you love has over and over again contemplated death at her own hands is painful. To know the detailed ways that she has contemplated doing so numbs the mind and the heart.
In the past year and a half severe depression has affected someone I love and as affected myself. For the most part my depression has passed. I remember those mornings after taking a sleeping pill to sedate myself. I did not want to live, but I did not want to kill myself. I didn’t contemplate taking all my pills or walking over to the bridge. I just wanted to sleep and never wake up. Those mornings were wretched. I felt swallowed by bed, my limbs and head felt like they had melted into my mattress. My entire face felt sore like I had been punched in the face the night before. I remember thinking that I was going to die.
Those were my worst moments. I had only a few of those. My work and school suffered a little bit but for the most part I was still able to focus. I actually welcomed the distraction of my students and my books. My depression was not debilitating and was treated by a few months of therapy. I’ve had a few bad days since the fall, but they are caused by severely stressful situations. My bad days do not come unannounced.
Yesterday was a bad day for someone I love. Her depression has been treated by drugs and therapy. Her depression prevents her from working or going to school. Her depression leads to suicidal thoughts and moments of feeling like a “ghost”. I don’t know what it’s like to have those kind of bad days.
A year and a half ago when she told me she thought about killing herself I cried everyday. We fought because she didn’t understand why I cried when she talked about killing herself. She just wanted me to listen, not react. Today, we have a better understanding of each other but it does not make it easier when she tells me she often thinks of the bridge-- last year it was car accidents and sleeping pills.
Lord, thank you for giving herself enough will to live to check herself in.
Some points on APAs and Depression/ Suicide
-Asian American women 15-24 and Asian Americans over 65 have the highest suicide rate of any ethnic group (CDC 2001).
-Mental health issues and its complexities in the Asian American community are intricately linked to issues of cultural tension, immigration, access to resources, language, and native cultural values. These attributes not only affect the high rate of depression and suicide rates amonn APAs but also the fact that APAs are less likely than whites to seek help for mental health problems (NLAAS, 2003). When help is sought, treatment is also complicated by cultural disconnects. (My therapist made many wonderful suggestions that were horribly culturally insensitive. Sometimes I would have to laugh at her suggestions.) Obviously, some of these issues may concern particular generations in a different manner.
-Second generation APAs are more likely than APA immigrants to have emotional disorders (not really quite sure how reliable that is though b/c I also think that there is a higher likelihood of underreporting for immigrants).
-The National Asian Women’s Health Organization (NAWHO) reports that “intimate partner violence is believed to be the single most important precipitant for female suicide attempts in the country.” Additionally, NAWHO found that low self-esteem, self-confidence, and a sense of control over one’s life puts women at risk of depression.
- Depression is real. It is not merely the inability to cope with stress or hardship. It is not a character flaw, an indication of weakness or lack of willpower. It is not shameful.