Breaking the Silence

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What a week we’ve had.

Last weekend, one of the most dear and most cherished people in my life threatened suicide.  This beautiful person had a date, a plan, and a rationalization…everyone’s lives would be better without them (I realize not grammatically correct, but I will respect their privacy).  This gorgeous, successful, loving person has it all, or so it seems: a successful and busy career as a great physician, a truly happy marriage with a loving spouse, wonderful children, a beautiful home, a flossy car, fancy vacations…the list goes on.  On the surface, this person has the absolute definition of a perfect life.  On the outside looking in, there could be nothing in the world wrong for this person.

Yet, beneath the veneer of those Insta-worthy pictures, a storm rages.  Self-doubt, insecurity, Imposter Syndrome, Depression, and loneliness are a few of the invisible demons.  We spoke for a very long time, and we managed to talk through the storm, to see the rainbow on the other side.  This beautiful human still lives.

In the handful of days since those heavy and heart-wrenching conversations, I have now lost a mentor (also a physician, writer, and artist), a style maven (her style strikingly similar to my own), and a foodie/wine icon (who inspired me think of new food as an opportunity, he was cantankerous but fabulous)- all purportedly due to suicide.  Each one had been an inspiration to me, and they are gone.

My heart breaks.

What can be done?  As I think of these four people, they are have something in common: by all appearances, they seem successful, are/were wealthy, well-established, had families; the world has been shocked by these suicides.  We do believe these “things” are enough to make us happy.  We assume that successful people are happy, but this is not always true.  They were likely depressed (but maybe still high functioning) before they were successful- and unless it is addressed, they are likely to remain or return to depression after the sheen of the successful life wears off.  The old internal monologues resurface.

If we are waging a war against suicide- we are losing it, in my opinion, because we aren’t fully acknowledging the problem.  We aren’t acknowledging the depression- we hide it.  We aren’t reaching out to hold these people as a community.  We shun those with mental illness.  But, if we’re being honest, we all are or could be in their shoes.

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