Editor’s Note – This week’s opinion column comes to us from a young man growing up in the South West, who wrote this deeply moving essay on mental health and depression and who generously allowed us to publish his words.
SOMEWHERE around the world there is a person pleading for help, and no one can hear them.
In another part of the world there is a person crying themselves to sleep; they’re experiencing unimaginable pain.
Somewhere else, there is a person on a ledge looking down on the world, a person with a knife in their hand or a belt wrapped around their neck. They are about to do the unthinkable… and suddenly, they’re gone. In a matter of hours the world will wake to a mother’s scream, a father’s cry, an ambulance racing to the horrific scene of a broken heart trapped beneath a breathless cage, a bloodied face or a hanging wreck.
You will see on the news, the figure of a girl or a boy, a man or a woman, perhaps you knew them, and if you didn’t, do you care? They’ll be smiling, wearing a grin, as if they knew no pain. But behind that grin lay a secret, and you never knew. That’s the end, no more knowing, no more feeling, just speculation.
The modern world faces an epidemic, a disease that cannot be seen unless you are infected, a disease that cannot be heard unless you care to listen. It has no cure to kill it, nor a substantial defence to match it.
Depression is a killer. It kills thousands of people around the world each year. And it can affect anyone, no matter what race or religion, gender or age. Within you right now, there is a seed planted unconventionally, waiting for that drop of doubt, that tear of sorrow, in that storm of pain. When it grabs hold of you, you won’t feel a thing.
My name is Jaxon Parks, and although I’m 17, I feel like I’m 50. Like my mentality can no longer keep up with my physicality. I find it difficult to discuss or reflect on my past because I have spent the last few years recovering from a deep depression that almost ended in tragedy. I have spent every day for the past 4 years waking up with a smile on my face in order to convince the people I love that I’m comfortable being the person I am.
Truth be told, I’m not. Every time someone presumes that I’m alright, I feel as another part of me begins to die. And because of that decision, I feel I have lost everything. My sense of identity has become distorted, and who I am will forever remain unclear.
But, although I may never be able to remember who I am. I will always remember the endless days of pain and torment, the countless nights I spent crying myself to sleep as I felt the world around me begin to crumble and fall, and I will never ever forget the day my soul was torn from me and left in the darkness, abandoned, and alone.
It took me a year to seek help, another 2 years to find my way through the darkness and the past year to learn how to smile without feeling afraid.
I have a lot of people to thank: my friends, my teachers, my family. If not for them I’d surely be dead.
All this makes me realise that it’s simply not enough to ask people like me if they’re “OK”. Of course we’re going to lie, and of course you’re going to believe it.
In order for there to be change, the government needs to realise that we are not expendable. More money, more time, more effort needs to be put into the care of the mentally, emotionally and psychologically ill. Can you think of one professional clinic in the South West where adolescents can seek aid? No; every time I need help I must travel 2.5 hours to get proper care.
Me, and people just like me, are constantly trying to do what we can to make our lives worth living, but we can’t do it alone. Now I ask: what needs to be done in order to ensure the lives of your friends, your family, in your future? Thank you. – Jaxon Parks
If you or someone you love is in crisis or needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.