Before I add his text, I’d like to briefly tell you how I met Katekani. We went to the same university and studied in the same faculty, but we didn’t interact a lot. Until he became my Economics tutor. I found his mind to be a wondrous thing and more noctibly his heart, which always put the development of students first, became part of his legendary status in our department.
When I read his contribution, I didn’t think of him as any different to the young man who got a standing ovation when he was voted “Student of the Year” in our faculty. He still stood tall in my mind and I’m sure if more if our leaders opened up about their mental health, more would be able to connect with them.
Here’s his story:
“Suicide is selfish. I’ve heard that from so many people, and I’ll admit I’ve felt like that before myself. Why would you just leave those closest to you to deal with the pain of your loss. Suicide is selfish. But so is life, sometimes…
I’ve had friends who have attempted – and once succeeded – at committing suicide. I think the first question that always pops into my head is “why”. Why did this person feel as if not being alive anymore was the only option? What was so bad that they couldn’t give it another week to blow over? Couldn’t they take an hour to calm down, call someone, talk to someone? It rocks your world.
Suicide is selfish, I’ve been told, but so is life. I’ve had thoughts of taking my life before. It’s always a gun to my head. Right temple. I had them quite often in high school but I’ve since learnt to see the signs that I’m walking down a dark passage that won’t end well so I’ve learnt to stop, turn around and work my way back to “the light”.
Thing is though, before I learnt to read the signs I’d get so honed in on the feelings of darkness, depression and hopelessness that if there had been a gun somewhere in the house I doubt I’d be sitting here writing this today. Thank God there wasn’t.
There in lies the selfishness of this thing called life. It has the ability to put a smile on our faces when a song with good memories comes on the radio, or fill your heart with joy at the sound of a young toddler’s laugh. It can make you feel like you’re soaring. We live for that moment. We all want to be in that moment.
In the flash of an eye all of that can turn dark. You can lose something, someone that means the world to you. A dream can slip between your fingers, someone close to you can hurt you in a way you didn’t think possible. The euphoric joy you feel when life is going well, also has a dark side. And life being life, the very same way you live in euphoria, you can live in depression.
For some, living in that state, in those feelings manifests in the form of pain. Agonising, terrible, unbearable pain. For me it would be numbness. I became unfeeling and detached. To be honest, I still do sometimes. The thought of loss scares the crap out of me so I distance myself from things and people that I care about sometimes. I don’t call or text. I stop actively working on projects.
I guess what I’m trying to say is its easy to stand outside of a situation and think that someone is being selfish and they only thought about themselves in doing what they did, but fact is, you can’t climb into someone’s head and see what they see or feel what they feel. The only thing you can really do is be there for them.
My grandmother was there for me. She pulled me out of a dark hole I didn’t even know I was in by asking how I was and commenting that she noticed I wasn’t my usual happy self, which was fine except that she noticed that this was the case more and more often. The thing that really helped me though is the fact that she didn’t just ask how I was and take my standard “I’m okay” response at face value. She genuinely wanted to know how I was.
When’s the last time you asked someone that question and meant it? We live an increasingly busy world. One where we barely even notice each other let alone SEE each other. Suicide is selfish they say, but so is life. Add a little selflessness to it next time you’re with a loved one, a colleague, a friend. Ask the question you always do, “how are you?”. Mean it this time.”
Katekani is happily married and as he puts it is, “Still tryna figure this stage of my life out”