Depression fucking sucks. It sucks to suffer from it; it sucks to see others suffer from it.
I lost contact with my landlord sometime last year, and obviously as a private tenant that raised some concerns as my main point of contact for my flat had vanished off the face of the earth. He’d deleted his email address and his phone number was deactivated. To be honest I thought nothing of it for a while, and the last thing he told me was that he was bogged down with work at the NHS. Not a particularly good sign given the situation with COVID.
At the beginning of the year I received a letter from the solicitors managing his estate: he died last November. Receiving this kind of news presents a veritable cocktail of emotions; a confusing mix of relief, catharsis, and sadness. Finally you know, so in that there’s some closure, but also… fuck. What a shame.
The letter from the solicitors asked me to start paying my rent to a different account, so naturally I had to ask for some evidence to verify this claim. A death certificate would suffice, I said, and not more than a couple of days later I got an email with one in it, along with a letter from the coroner.
Cause of death: suspension.
That’s a euphemistic way to say that my landlord committed suicide by hanging himself. Fuuuck.
The thing is, I don’t have to love this man or feel close to him to be upset by that news. I feel for him, because I can only imagine what it takes to get to that state of sheer torment and utter desperation that the point of no return becomes a beacon of hope. A permanent solution to a temporary problem as it were, though I am in no place to make any kind of claim about the situation he was in.
I can only imagine that because I’ve been there myself, more than once. It’s not something I could put into words, and nor would I want to relive it such that I could. I wouldn’t want the people I love, who supported me at that time, to go back and find the words for it either. But I’ve been there, and those people closest to me have been there by extension. They shouldered some of my emotional burden themselves so that I could try and cope with a lighter load.
It pained my heart to read that news and it pains my heart to write on the topic, because oftentimes there is much more going on below the surface than a chemical imbalance or the state of being depressed. There is the history, and there are the circumstances.
Mental health is serious business and we don’t always treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. It took me several long years to get to the point where I felt resilient and not on the verge of breaking down every other day. Therapy, support from friends who mean the absolute world to me, and a solid support network at the places I worked with fantastic colleagues and understanding managers who understood the importance of avoiding burning out.
There are loads of resources out there that could help out if you’re starting to struggle, and if one thing doesn’t work that doesn’t mean nothing else will. Here are some quick suggestions:
- Find a therapist you can connect with and trust (you don’t have to stick with the first one you find)
- Ask your closest friends if you can confide in them (try not to treat a ‘no’ as a rejection, some people are better equipped to support than others)
- If you can chat to people you don’t know over the phone, then Samaritans1 is a good place to start but not the only place
- Talk to your doctor about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A friend has also suggested some other options:
- If you prefer to text rather than call, then shout2 might work for you
- And if you’re younger, still in school maybe, then Papyrus3 can help
I’m aware that these options are very specific to the UK and you might not have equivalents in the country you live in. Please fire off an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you have recommendations.
Take care of yourself.