Last week I wanted to die.
It's not an easy thing to admit to people who care about you, even though you realise at some point that you had better tell them before it's too late and they find themselves wishing they had done something.
It's not the first time I've felt this way. And somehow I don't think it will be the last.
It's not even about wanting to commit an act of violence against myself or anyone else.
It's actually a desire to escape. Permanently, finally, once and for all.
The beauty of having been through it before is that while it feels like the worst thing in the moment, I also know that if I just get through it, the moment will pass and I'll find some deep insight on the other side.
Each time I've felt this way, on the other side of the darkness I've found myself rising like a Phoenix, reborn into a new version of me, having burnt away the parts of me that are no longer serving me.
And the deeper and heavier the suffering, the desire to disappear, the fresher and lighter the new me emerges on the other side.
But the difficulty is to find the balance between solitude and safety. In a moment, solitude can turn into isolation, and safety among people can turn into suppression.
In a moment of desperate isolation, the possibilities ahead can turn into a lifetime of "if only"s for those you leave behind.
As a society, we mostly don't have a healthy attitude about death, or about depression. We work so hard to avoid both these things, inventing ways to escape them and to stay happy and healthy. But death and sadness are as healthy and natural as happiness and vitality. Death is part of life. Darkness helps us appreciate light. And in every moment of joy we experience, there is an inherent and essential tension of the string that keeps our happy balloon in the sky, tied to the ground, rooted beneath the surface.
Death and depression are grounding.
Rooting. Humbling. Balancing.
To avoid them is to live a life half-lived.
Yet our inability to embrace the darkness with courage and fearlessness make our society as a whole unhealthy. If a doctor doesn't prescribe us with drugs, we self medicate with alcohol, entertainment and sugar to keep our darkness at bay. But eventually, it catches up to us, our fear of our own darkness leads to frustration, violence, addiction. It leads to disconnection -- with ourselves and with each other. And then we force ourselves to lubricate ourselves with more drugs and alcohol, even workaholism, just to simulate connection with one another.
In the natural world, death is never an end, it's simply a part of the cycle of life.
And we humans tend to forget that we are part of the natural world. No matter how much we augment our reality artificially, we remain beings born of nature.
What if we didn't see our lives as one continuous stretch from the womb to the grave, but instead saw ourselves as dying and being reborn in every moment, with each cell we shed and each burst of energy we burn? Like human shaped flames, flickering with life in every moment?
Every single cell in our body is replaced within a span of 7 years. What if we saw ourselves as beings of nature that are reborn and reformed 10-12 times within the lifetime of one consciousness?
If you were to divide your age by 7, can you name a different reincarnation of your being for the number you end up with?
When I think back to my life at 7, living in NYC with my parents, I actually cannot comprehend that it's this same body that experienced that reality. The thread of continuity is as ephemeral as a dream I might have had.
Even my life at 14 in Delhi, or my life back in NYC after graduation at 21, or at 28 in Amsterdam don't seem real anymore.
Because I'm not the same me I was then, and why would I want to be?
What if each time I've wanted to die, each time I've mourned the end of my life as I knew it, each time I've let go of who I was in order to move forward into who I am now wasn't something to fear, pity or escape, but the true celebration of life?
What if we measured our success as beings in how many reincarnations we survive within the span of one human life?
What if we didn't see suicide or depression or death as a failure, or a wrong, but as an opportunity for rebirth?
What if we saw each rebirth of our being from the darkness as a victory, a celebration, an opportunity to live again?
What if I threw a party each time I survived my own depression? Would that make you uncomfortable? Or would you help me celebrate my transition into a new being, free of the weight I didn't need to carry, released of the burdens of past, ready to take on this next layer of the onion skin of my soul?
Would you help me celebrate my coming closer to the true heart of my being, soft, juicy, rich and vulnerable?
And would you allow yourself to get to yours?
Have an experience that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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