I’ve been mulling over the following blog post for a couple of months now. It’s been simmering in the back of my head, and I guess it’s because it’s one of those hard questions that we all avoid. But here it goes…

I was sitting in the emergency room at the Dr’s office (just for an injection). And what struck me was all the equipment there was to save someone’s life, stop bleeding, get lungs filled with oxygen, get a heart to beat again… you name it. And the question dropped into my heart… what kind of equipment is there to get an “emotional heart” that has given up beating again?

I’ve been there where Dr’s, nurses (and friends and relatives) aren’t equipped to understand that place where you just cannot live anymore. Whether it is due to a mental illness, the hardship that life throws at you, physical illness that’s just too much to live with, etc. It doesn’t matter what gets you to that point, but the last thing you need when you’ve mustered up the last bit of energy and courage to go and seek help is then to be told off by a medical professional that you must just pull it together. Or even worse, be judged and made to feel ashamed of what you are going through. And then we are shocked about how many people commit suicide these days? Can we please agree to break the shame of ‘not being ok’.

I’ve recently stumbled upon an article about drowning. Please bear with me and read through this, but keep in mind what we are talking about…

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The Instinctive Drowning Response, so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect it to. When someone is drowning there is very little splashing and no waving or yelling or calling for help of any kind.

  • Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is a secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
  • Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  • Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

This doesn’t mean that a person who is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble — they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long, but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, reach for throw rings, etc.”

Because I am writing this blog out of personal experience, this article really gripped my heart. I can honestly say that this is exactly what the darkness of suicidal thoughts and depression feels like. Completely helpless, overwhelmed and exhausted! It’s this struggle of using every bit of energy that is left to just get above the water for a breathe. And sometimes there are those moments in distress that you still can and do reach out for help.

So, here are my questions:

Are we equipped (and willing) to help those people who still have the courage and strength to reach out?

Are we equipped to see when someone is drowning and are unable to ask for help? (“Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look as if they’re drowning. They may just look as if they are treading water and looking up at the deck.“)

Is there really a difference between a physical and ‘emotional’ heart that has stopped beating? Then why do we treat them differently?

Excerpt on drowning taken from: https://www.soundingsonline.com/voices/drowning-doesnt-look-like-drowning