Would you befriend a classmate who’s notorious for mood swings? Would you reach out to him, thus saving him from destructive mental depression?

In the Face of Depression

Imagine yourself back in school. Your favourite school.

Imagine yourself back in the best or worst years of your life. Your daily life consists of little more than school and hanging out with friends. You have a preferred group of guys and gals you keep company with. Some of them get on your nerves now and then. Wait, actually, the whole group teases you more than anybody else. But given any choice, you would still prefer to be with this lot. If only for the fact they feel more tolerable than the rest of the world.

More tolerable, that is, outside of those moments. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just refer to him as X. X is generally an easy-going, pleasant person. He is also non-competitive over most things. Problem though, he has this tendency to slip into one of his moods. When that happens, he starts to talk weird. Nothing explicit or offensive. Just out of the blue, half serious musings about death and suffering. After which, he withdraws. X vanishes for a day or two. When he returns, he’s seemingly his old self, till it begins all over again.

Let me ask. What would you do if you have a friend like X? Would you be concerned or annoyed? Would you consider him a weirdo, and beyond a number of times of him acting weird, start to avoid him?

If you are the “leader” of your group, would you soon discourage his return to your gatherings and excursions? On account of him just being so bizarre and unpredictable?

This is what I’d do. I’d make an effort to avoid X. I wouldn’t do it in an antagonistic way, and believe me, neither would I gossip about him. I’d simply distance myself. Deep down, I’m likely to suspect something is wrong with X, but the fact that he’s still around would convince me it’s nothing too worrying. If forced to go out together as a group, I’d maintain a safe distance from him. In situations when it’s not possible to avoid conversation, I’d likely just stick to nodding, while racking my brains for an excuse to move away.

That’s what I’d do.

That’s what I suspect most people would do. Pardon me for being presumptuous.

Therefore, if you’re a victim of depression, if you’re bipolar or anything similar, please don’t come near me. Chances are, I’d be contributing to your desire for a swift end.

Kakeru! Come Back to Us!

I watched Orange late last year after reading so much about it online. Before all else, allow me to say this series is hands-down one of the best anime I’ve ever watched. Whether in terms of storytelling, voice acting, or production quality.

It was also hands-down one of the most disturbing anime I’ve ever watched. Far more than any of those gory, macabre ones.

If you’re unfamiliar, the story is about a group of high school students racing against time to prevent the suicide of a classmate named Kakeru. There’s a time travel element, but outside of that, the whole story is about handling depression. In a nutshell, the students failed to detect Kakeru’s condition, which led to his suicide. When given the chance at another go, the students went all out to save their friend.

Here’s what disturbed me so much. The anime was frightfully realistic in its portrayal of Kakeru’s condition. No over-the-top scream fests or fist fights here. Just an emphasis on how Kakeru kept succumbing to dark thoughts no matter how hard his friends tried. In forum threads about the series, a lot of viewers shared how this was exactly what they went through when battling depression. In the fact of such behaviour, with no prior warning of the outcome, would I do what the students originally did? Would I shun “Kakeru” and consider him a strange person I do not anything to do with?

I would.

In fact, even with prior warning, I might still distance myself. Judge me whichever way you would, but I do not feel I have the tenacity or patience to handle extreme mood fluctuations and withdrawals. At best, I might inform someone else about my suspicions. Should this person dismisses me, I’d walk away. I’d considered myself as having “done my part.”

I’m awful, am I not?

But wouldn’t you do likewise? Especially if this person isn’t a friend to begin with. Just an acquaintance. Such as a colleague, a classmate, or a neighbour.

In my opinion, it’s just human tendency to avoid those who are weird and infuriating. It’s how we protect ourselves mentally, put it that way. But in our course of doing so, in our aversion of frustration, have we ever contributed to someone’s demise? Contributed not as in facilitated suicide, but indirectly, supported it?

It’s an unnerving question. One that lingered in my head for quite a while after watching Orange.

Someday when I find the courage, I’d give this deeper consideration.

 

Unlike what most would expect, Kakeru grins and laughs a lot when with his friends. But he’s totally different when alone. Another realistic portrayal of depression.
Unlike what most would expect, Kakeru grins and laughs a lot when with his friends. But he’s totally different when alone. Another realistic portrayal of depression. (Picture from Anime News Network)

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About Scribbling Geek

The geek divides his free time between video games, movies, anime, and attempting to write decent short stories. Oh, and trying not to sprain his fingers from playing demisemiquavers on his Electone.

3 thoughts on “In the Face of Depression

  1. That’s a pretty hot topic in Italy, right now, as three young people’s suicides have made headlines:

    1 – A man in his 30s hanged himself after writing a long and detailed letter about his dissatisfation with his precarious professional condition, the long series of temporary jobs, etc. – a victim of unemployment or of depression?

    2 – A schoolboy jumped out of a window after his mother caught him with a minimal dose of hashish and called the police – he was just sixteen, good at sports and a decent student: was it right to make him feel like a criminal for such a micro-offense, when newspapers tell us about corrupt politicians and murderers every single day?

    3 – Finally, a mentally ill girl committed suicide by jumping out of his father’s car while the latter was driving – could she have been given better treatments for her condition?

    And all of these took place in a week or so!

    And now, all of these people’s relatives, friends, etc. are wondering if they could have done more to save their lives…

    1. Tragically, SG had a couple of teen suicides of late too. There was a high-profile one with a boy leaping from his apartment after he was arrested for molest. There were also cases of teens killing themselves that horrid way after collecting disappointing exam results.

      These aside, I think the terrible thing about depression is that it’s hardly as noticeable as we would hope for it to be. From personal experiences, the symptoms are almost invisible unless you are out to notice them. The only thing we can hope for is a little more attention and understanding by people towards their friends and relative. One teen suicide is one too many.

      1. Exactly – and probably social stigma plays a role as well: if people were encouraged to talk about their problems, maybe they wouldn’t choose to die…

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