Suicidal at Twelve
Editor's note: Trigger warnings for depression and suicide. Thank you Mariya for your courage to share your journey of overcoming your challenges with depression.
Eleven years ago, when I was twelve, I sat down with my dad and told him I wanted to commit suicide. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know the proper words to describe it. I knew that I was feeling something other kids my age weren’t. That was the problem: I felt something, but I didn’t know what that feeling was. As I got older, I learned that what I was feeling was nothing, and this “nothing” was something a kid did not know or understand. They just know that it sucks. They know enough to grasp that no one else would understand it because they don’t even understand it themselves.
My dad didn’t ask me why I felt that way, if I was being bullied, or if something had happened at school. Instead, he began to tell me about the day I was born and how he held me against his chest every night because that was the only way I could fall asleep. I little understood why he answered me in the way he did. He was obviously hurt that the baby girl he carried home all those years ago - the baby he and my mother brought into this world, now decided she no longer wanted to be a part of it. It was shocking, I agree, any parent would be devastated and not know how to respond
I don’t quite remember how our conversation ended that day. However, the next morning my mother had said to me: “How could you say that to him? How could you do that to him?” Not, “Why are you having suicidal thoughts before you even started puberty.” Not, “Do you want to talk about this?” Instead she asked, “What made you say those words to your father?”
No my parents are not monsters - they love me very much. They grew up in a culture where mental illness was and still continues to be viewed as a taboo. A child with suicidal thoughts was a “sickchild”; a “diseased child”; a “crazy child” who will grow up to be a “crazy adult”. My parents didn’t know any better. When I was twelve, mental illness was barely scratching the surface - even in Calgary! My parents didn’t have the knowledge to understand mental illness. Unfortunately, they still don’t.
In their minds, same as many others who think similarly, people have depression if and only if something terrible happened to them. However, that is not always the case. Depression is not just about trauma, death of loved ones, or hurtful break ups. Depression is feeling lost when you are at home. It’s trying to find answers to questions you don’t know. It’s that constant emptiness, that’s so empty that it becomes your heaviest burden. You might feel like each day you’re trying to climb a mountain without a rope but the other problem is, that mountain never seems to end. You either keep going for a destination that may never come or you let go. Depression is when you are existing instead of living; yet, it is the most difficult illness to explain because how do you explain something that doesn’t make any sense to even yourself? How do you even begin to start your story when there was never a beginning? It’s just an endless circle.
To parents, if your kid tells you they are depressed, don’t laugh at them and shrug it off as a silly phase. What is so silly about a kid trying to tell you he or she stopped feeling happy? What is silly about a young person telling you that they want to kill themselves? Take your kids seriously otherwise they will never learn to take themselves seriously.
Years later, I realized I may have had a suicidal ideation but I would have never have acted on it. My parents acted as if nothing had happened, life went back to normal for them. However, I began to experience depression and had absolutely nowhere to turn. Not until I was a full adult anyway, when I learned about psychology and people who make a living by helping people with mental illness. No one should have to wait that long. In fact, no one should have to wait at all. Especially if their life is at risk, where a minute too long could mean a minute too late.
Anyone young or old reading this, if you have depression, keep in mind this one quote that I read that always helps me get through another day:
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Take care. Stay safe.
- Mariya Tasnuva Hoque
Calgary, AB, CA
More about Mariya:
I am looking to finish my undergrad in Law and Society as of this year! Upon just taking my LSAT, I am one step closer to pursuing my ambition in becoming a human rights lawyer. Meanwhile, my passion for approaching a variety of social issues - mental health being one of them, as well as ending racism and discrimination - propelled me to volunteer in a variety of places, including the Calgary Distress Centre and Calgary Immigrant Women's Association.
In my free time, you will find me almost always at the gym! Otherwise I’ll be writing short stories, playing my piano, reading, or catching up on some TV (e.g. Game of Thrones).
Whenever I am anxiety-driven and have that depressive air circulating me, there is nothing in the world that works more like magic than opening a page from one of my Harry Potter books: “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
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