By Heather Adams
Over the past few years I have personally dealt with depression and friends who have committed suicide. As a writer I also have developed the habit of people-watching, and through this habit have developed my own understanding of the effects of these two difficult things.
I am going to tell you a story of one week in my life. It all started in the middle of my performance in our bi-annual drag show hosted by Colorado State University’s LGBTQ organization. We had just started the dance and the crowd was really amping me up, so I started to do my jump off the chair and unfortunately landed with a snap and dislocated my knee—and that was only the start of the week.
On Wednesday night I got food poisoning, and instead of spending the night with my boyfriend like I had planned, I had an intimate relationship with the toilet. The next day, during the warm-up exercises in my Acting Shakespeare class, I twisted into a side-plank and suddenly got stung three times in the armpit by a wasp—what the hell was a wasp doing in a third story acting studio?
Finally, to round out my banner week, I received some hard news. I ran into a girlfriend of mine, who informed me that two of her friends had recently committed suicide. Receiving this news had sent her into a tailspin, and she later became very delicate to the point that she ventured off on her own in the wilderness and many of us were worried that she would do the same harm to herself.
I understood how she felt; when you receive news like this it’s hard to know how to react. She must have felt that she should have seen the signs, or maybe she blamed them for not seeking help, but truthfully it’s a heart-wrenching shock either way. As I mentioned, I too have lost several friends over the years to suicide. To this day, the hardest one to process was a close family friend who supposedly shot himself. When I received that news I refused to accept that he would kill himself in that way. I still cannot understand why these friends had a reason to take their life. After this it’s hard to comprehend why you didn’t see their struggling and make a better effort to help them. I wish I had seen it or had the strength to help them before it was too late.
That week I did my best to accept each new thing that hit me. Some people absorb things the way they are because they believe that it is in God’s plan. I was raised by a Buddhist, so I believe in karma, but I also believe that Lady Fate spins our web of life and that each hardship we run into is a test. If we let these troubles get to us and push us down, then we aren’t seeing the lesson behind them. I think Lady Fate is trying to make us see how delicate the balance of life is, and that if we weigh it down with too many troubles instead of joy then the world will be filled with sorrow.
However, there are also people who try to believe in a higher power, a reason for the bad times, but just can’t see past the idea that terrible things happen because they don’t deserve to be happy. These people can put on a mask and make others believe that they are fine. Behind that mask, however, it’s clear that each hit they are thrown by the world throws them deeper into a pit of despair, until they are convinced that the world would be better off without them.
What I have learned from my observations of people and the teachings of Lady Fate is that this delicate balance keeps us afloat. If I am struggling and I take those struggles to heart, then I affect the balance around me. I go to my boyfriend or other loved ones and tell them about the problems of my day, but what I may not see is that their ability to take on my problems is hampered by their inability to carry their own. When we give them ours they want to offer advice or support, and they try; however, our burden has unfairly been transferred to them, which makes Lady Fate’s balance of vitality darken a little on their side. These people can’t always help in a way that they feel is adequate, and due to that self-perceived failure they develop a low opinion of themselves, tilting the balance even further.
This exemplifies that the balance can easily be skewed. My problems evolve into other people’s problems, and each gradually builds on each other until the barbells are more than they can bear and they crumple under the weight. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of life we should look to the positive. We should refrain from offering those around us a retelling of our troubles and instead provide them with the beautiful moments of our day, such as the friendly stray cat that purred as I scratched her head. Offer a kind word, a hug, or some other type of gesture that reassures the people around us that we will gladly pull them back up when they find that it is too hard to do it themselves. There are some of us who cannot stand against the assault of life, but if we stand together we can make the troubling times a little easier.
Edited by Amy Owings