I and she had never met in real life. We had no common friends, I tried in vain to track her down. But there was nothing but silence. I played our conversation over and over again in my head. Trying to find her again in the words, this stranger who had trusted me with her last moments. I tried to be philosophical and see the ‘lesson’. Bullshit. I tried to imagine what she had done, where she did it? Did she even do anything? Was she lying alone somewhere, cold and breathless? I imagined what her family might be going through, who was comforting her son.
A day went past. 2 days. 3 days. Nothing. Then on the 4th day, she was back on facebook. Just like that. I felt a deep sense of relief. But I also felt deep confusion and slight stupidity. What had actually happened? Was she just having bad day and I had overreacted?
I sent her a message and we reconnected. She told me that our conversation had stayed with her. She managed to get through the day, and the next and the next. It took one random Facebook contact to help her to do that. We spoke more about her depression and our encounter. She also suggested that I write about our experience, “maybe in this, you might make others aware of similar things around them or in them… I cannot be the only one. You cannot be the only one”.
So here I am, writing this to you. I don’t really know what to say but I can say this; I know you are hurting. It might even be that you are hurting far deeper than anyone around you can comprehend, maybe even those who love you. I don’t say I know because I’m some expert. No, I know because we are all hurting in one way or another.
But I can also tell you that, even though you may not believe it, someone who knows you knows you are hurting. They may be afraid to say it or they might not know what to say but they know. Reach out. Or, take the hand that is reaching out, even if it is that of a stranger. Trust your intuition. And if you truly feel that there is no one around who is willing to, at the very least, listen, then may be more proactive. Call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group 0800 70 80 90. Just dial the number. Say hi. Just that. If after one minute you feel you’re not up to it, drop the phone. You don’t have much to lose in that minute but, it just might help.
If you feel that you are not going through any drastic, equip yourself with knowledge about depression. It very likely that you’ll never have to use that knowledge in the same situation that me and friend were in but, the fundamentals of helping someone with depression are not that different from those with which you help anyone dealing with any kind of mental or emotional trauma; just be there and be willing to listen. If someone breaks their leg, you don’t try to fix it. Depression is a medical condition that needs professional help. Don’t give advice. Don’t try to come up with solutions. Just talk. First and foremost be human.
With love and light, thank you for taking the time to read this. God’s strength to you.
Photographer: Palesa Motsomi