Just finished watching this movie based on the book by Paulo Coleho, after years of reading the book during a time of my own turmoil and suicidal thoughts. The book didn’t seep in as much as the movie, possibly cause I am a visual person, but also because I wasn’t ready to take in the message as I am now in a healthier state of mind.
I am much like Veronika’s character, a young professional woman who yearns for more out of life, that sometimes day to day routine fails to give or people are willing to give each other. At one point about 9 years ago, I too wrote a suicide note to friends and family, and drew a warm bath. I was planning on using a razor, cause I am afraid of pain, and thought this would be the best way. But before I could even step in, I felt something was wrong and decided to call a friend to take me to the hospital. I believe it was over a boy who played with my emotions, but it just seemed that it was an accumulation of losing a mother, having a strange relationship with my dad, and being somewhat of a dramatic fantasy lover wondering what more to life there was. It is all a mix of that that caused me to even go down this route.
Once, I got to the ER, it was a mixture of confusion and relief. I told them I wanted to die. They took my shoelaces, and all things considered sharp before admitting me to a bed in the psych ward. It took a few hours to get a bed, so I actually ended up staying up all night trying to get some sleep on the hard examination bed before they admitted me upstairs, several hours later.
Everything from here on was a blur. I was rooming with a girl who seemed to hear voices and talk back to them in different voices. I also observed a scene much like the movies, with an old black man in the corner of the seating area tearing up the phone books into tiny pieces making a huge mess, and a little old lady with silver hair screaming to no end until she got the nurses to her aid.
The treatment I had was a room for three days, and classes to discuss my issues at heart. I think I impressed my counselor by showing a willingness to get the heck out of there as fast as I could. My drawings were positive and I always tried to show optimism. At this point, being around other people gave me an unique perspective what it truly means to be considered “unfit” by society to live on your own. I came in there with one perspective, and left with another.
One of the girls was a serious alcoholic that took to the bottle to numb her pain. Every time the doctor would ask about goals, dreams, and visions for ourselves, she would reply with a snide smile with the idea she wanted to drink herself into a stupor and jump out of the window. I remember her keenly, and remember my “higher self” looking down at the situation as if to say, ” why are you doing this to yourself?”. “What is the point?” I asked myself in my mind. I often times asked myself this too.
Finally after three days, not the five that I was first considered for, I spoke to the head of the psych ward. I wanted answers to why I felt the way I did, I remember coming away with a great secret I feel he gave me. We really talked as patient and doctor, and when I asked for prescription drugs, or other means to never have to come back, he simply gave me the secret I needed to hear.
Some may not agree with this, and what I am about to say. But I swear to you, this came from the head of a reputable psych ward straight to me to let know a secret of the universe, or at least living well. I asked him about the measurement of my brain chemicals and what was going on to cause this imbalance. He simply looked at me earnestly like the father I always wanted in my life, and told me there is no such thing.
Huh? I know the medical field is divided on this. But on a spiritual level, I understand completely what he meant. God doesn’t make one person crazy with an imbalance and another sane without one. The brain is designed to hold and observe information around us. We are constantly altering the reality around us with choices we make. There is no proof, he said, to show there is any brain chemical imbalance in people. He told me it was all based on imbalance of emotion. He literally sat across from me refusing me medication of any sort, saying that only when I work out my emotions will I start to be more in control of my life. He then labeled me as “situational depressive disorder”. I asked him what this meant and he said, that’s when someone experiences trauma sometimes they don’t know how to cope emotionally, be it the way you were raised to deal with emotions or just by making odd choices to deal with them. He next set me up with a consoler to see weekly and check in with.
So here I am, in my late 20s given this perspective as I floated out of the ward back into a car my friend drove me there in. She was such a good friend, and it was just one example of the love I was blind to that was all around me in the first place. Debbie, wherever you are…thank you for being there, and I am so sorry, I couldn’t see it at the time.
Fast forward 9 years later, and I see my life as a second chance. I made the choice to go deeper into my spirituality and to see this life as a gift to not take for granted. There is a reason why there is a warning to not kill yourselves in the Quran.
O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.
If you are imbalanced emotionally, it is because you allow it. I can say that, cause I have my proof now. Even if someone was raped, sold in slavery, watched their family get killed in front of them, as some people have to endure, we must always take a higher perspective on life. We get stuck in this trap and it is very difficult to get out without some idea about the spiritual side of life. All things good will be accounted for. All things evil and unnatural will also be accounted for. This is why I tell people to go to God, seek Him, seek inside and all around for the spirit of life and love that surrounds us daily if you feel you want to end this life. It isn’t a trite empty wish to people…it is reality. If you get stuck in this matrix of your feelings, you will miss so much around you.
My depression is with me, it is a part of me. But it no longer controls me, I take control of it. When I feel lost, alone, afraid, unloved, I reach for a spiritual uplift, such as the Quran, a spiritual movie, or book, or even blogging to try to help others. Every day is a new opportunity that God gives us. People who actually commit suicide are “myopic”. They are in the very definition “selfish”, and I will explain in a deeper meaning of this word in terms of personal perspective before I get lots of angry looks.
I do not mean someone is selfish in a negative, “annoying” way we find the person who steps in front of us in the Starbucks line. It is not an immature selfish attitude of a 3 year old that a person with suicide feelings has. They are not calling out for attention, and disregarding how other people feel. In fact, they may be all too aware of other people. But if we look at the physical definition of selfish, it means “self centered”. In Piaget’s wording, it actually is a stage called “egocentrism”, which by wikii’s definition means:
Egocentrism is the inability to differentiate between self and other. More specifically, it is the inability to untangle subjective schemas from objective reality; an inability to understand or assume any perspective other than their own.
One thing I learned in this psych ward was the idea that my feelings may feel real, but they are not reality. Meaning if I think I “feel” unlovable, that is not the reality around me. Nobody else thinks that, and sometimes we have to take a step away from our own mind’s eye and see things through the objective eyes of the universe to really experience life.
I can not tell you for sure where a person who commits suicide goes after this life. My guess is that they realize at the end of their life, that they weren’t done yet growing…physically, mentally, and emotionally. I do not think they are punished, but instead may find a harder journey into bliss because they have not released the ego yet and have still attachments to this physical reality, so much so they think, that this is it. I pray for those souls of teens and others who take their own lives. I hope in some way, they are finding their way back home.
I decided to tell this story, because maybe it will help people understand that we all go through these times, and the trails and obstacles put in place in our lives, are there to make us stronger. Perhaps our soul has to be so strong and unattached to return to God? Who knows, but just know that like Veronika, life and love always give you a second chance if you are willing to let it.
Please be always patient and willing to let God show you the life you were meant to live….