Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking to a support group

I have something coming up at the end of this week that is not going to be the most straight forward challenge to tackle. I've been invited to speak to a group of around twenty people who have lost a loved one to suicide. They'd like to hear from me what it's like to live with a mental illness.

The thing I'm most worried about is how they will hear me. I don't know what it's like to be in their shoes. Will I be able to be sensitive to what they're dealing with?

One thing for sure is that I will encourage them to talk to me as well. As a person who has considered suicide herself, I need to hear what it might be like for the people left behind were I to die that way. Perhaps we could get a discussion going.

Thinking about it now and considering where the people in this support group are at, I can see that taking your life is a selfish thing to do. And yet, self-centeredness can't be helped when you're in the midst of depression. The pain is so great, it's hard to get past it.

What the people who I speak to can give me will be just as important as what I can give them I feel. I hope we will all be sensitive to each other. I hope understanding will grow.


Paula Joy said...

Sounds like a neat opportunity that God has given you!

I do think that suicide is selfish because it leaves all the people who love you and care about you to grieve and have loss for a very long time. But, on the other side, there have been many days where not being in this world seems like a good option.

Hope the speaking engagement is encouraging for both you and your listeners.

marja said...

Hi Paula,

Trouble is: When you're so depressed that you've lost all hope and can't see any way out, you can't - you simply can't - appreciate what others might feel if you were to take your life. You can't see beyond your own hopelessness.

Good to have you visit again, Paula.

Love, marja

Paula Joy said...


I totally agree! I've been there - and the last thing on my mind was how others would feel. Some days, not being in this world seems better.

Glad to be back!!

marja said...

Yes, Paula, good to connect.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
I think that your words and experience can be very comforting to them. I don't think the issue is whether suicide is a selfish act or not. I have enormous empathy for people who are so depressed that they have no hope and see suicide as the only solution.

I don't believe we can/should judge them despite the great sorrow and loss their actions have had on others.

Perhaps, if you just share your own experience about the horror of depression, your audience will receive some solace from knowing that their loved ones didn't mean to hurt them by their actions.

I believe that sometimes the pain is just too great...people lose hope...they can't survive one more period of depression...and they can't find anyone whom they believe can truly help them.


marja said...

Thanks for your input, Susan.

You talked about how people with depression don't believe anyone can help them. That's so very true. And you feel so very alone with it, don't you? Even when you're not alone. That's a point I'll need to get across.

Have a great day, Susan.

Love, marja

Wendy Love said...

That will be a challenging talk! I will pray for you. I am not sure what I would say to such a group except maybe to enlighten them as to the hopelessness a person experiences when they are depressed, and that the feelings of hopelessness are just thoughts, they are not anyone's fault.

marja said...

Thanks for your prayers, Wendy. Yes, it will be challenging. To tell you the truth, I'd rather be doing something else that evening. But this is what I've been asked to do and I'll do my best.

I will give a rundown of the various mental illnesses and talk about my life with bipolar disorder. I'll talk about my roller coaster life and what it's like to be depressed.

I'm hoping we can get some good discussion going at the end. Learning to understand each other time.