Depression and anxiety and drinking and drug use play together often. Suicidal ideation, attempts or completion sit in the shadows till they arise suddenly and quickly into the foreground. These stories are becoming more and more frequent. And the trail of grief, trauma and loss left behind is a tender experience for those inheriting our world.
In hearing these stories, I keep thinking, what is happening for individuals who turn to these actions for some answers or relief? What is missing for them? What are they communicating in their actions? What have we failed to do as a community acknowledging the human experience and the meaning of a life? What if these individuals had a Community-based Rites of Passage experience?
Sometimes there is great confusion about these actions, as individuals who seem to have it all, the good jobs, relationships, supportive families have these experiences. Sometimes we find excuses for these actions: it’s because of dead-end or dispassionate careers, difficult relationships, or traumas in family systems.
There is no real rhyme or reason to point to, this epidemic speaks to more than circumstance, it speaks to the human experience. Depression and anxiety is a human experience. And it may be a hint to these individuals that they are being called for something BIG. These are individuals who may feel something deep within them about who they are and what their purpose is, known or unknown and likely not met by the world yet.
When life gets difficult, unbearable at times, we can easily feel the need to check out in everything being too much to manage. Addictions (drug, alcohol, technology, TV) and suicide are excellent ways to meet this need to not been the burden of life! There is wisdom in the desire to no longer hold this heaviness. Our human nature, much like nature, moves, offering seasonal and expressive changes. If we stay in one state over a long period of time, we are stuck is one season, this is not a natural state. Addiction and suicide give an individual initiative to create the needed change.
What if we lived in autumn year round, what would happen after all crops are harvested? When all leaves have fallen but the snow and long dark nights won’t come? When the spring doesn’t come to bring water from the snow melt for the growing of next year’s fruit? And the summer warmth is absent, and we miss the blooming of all things? We'd grow hungry, cold, uncertain. Cycles are necessary not only for the land and earth but for the human experience.
Thus, when we seek relief from our inner darkness, in any way we can, we are trying to move ourselves toward some healing. The options we have may not be the best, but there is wisdom in the need to do so, in the need to move ourselves out of the stuck feeling.
It is important to acknowledge that even though we so badly want to move out of this stuck place, there is wisdom in this stuck space as well. In doing nothing, you will eventually move naturally and somehow. We cannot stay depressed forever, though it may feel like forever, it is not in our human nature. The experience, however, can inform us about our part of our unconscious/disowned self, about the depths of who we are, revealing our unique gift or offering to the world. So despite how uncomfortable our depresses state can be, how much we want relief from it, how much the world tells us “you should be happy” or “what’s wrong” when we are sad---this is an important, informative, and natural human state not to be judged or wished away.
We cannot always be happy, as we turn to addictions, we may be seeking this state of consistent happiness, ignoring the depths of who we are. Our human nature is one that invites us to move from happy to sad to anxious to inspired and happy and sad and anxious and inspired again and again and around and around we go, each stage transforming us.
When I hear the story of addiction or suicide, I hear the story of screaming out in need for a death and rebirth. I hear the story of screaming out for a rite of passage; for the marking of a significant, needed and important shift in a life. Calling for a symbolic death and rebirth experience, the time and space to remember our human nature and the cycle of all things in and outside of ourselves. The time to remember who we are.
We can come to discover healthy ways to heal and meet these needs continually growing and discovering ourselves, no longer needing the addiction or the finality of the big “D” death. Connecting each other and our connection to the world around us can steer us into this discovery.