I didn’t want to say anything. It seems like more than enough words have been thrown out to the public regarding this and that anymore would just add to the reactive noise. But maybe silence was what brought us here in the first place …
On July 18, 2016 the life of Angela Meng was claimed by suicide and depression. I apologize to the friends and family forced to relive this fact again, and again, and again … and again, as every post, every call, and every message comes up … but if you can manage, this is the very least we can do right now. My hope is that even those who aren’t connected to this event will be able to walk away with something.
Because this is important and I’ve always hated generalized messages, I’m going to try and break this down as much as possible. Simply skip to the respective section(s) if you’re pressed for time.
To those grieving:
This sucks. This sucks a lot. I know. But let me give you some comfort by saying it will only get worse. Now I’m sorry, but hear me out. Since the announcement of Angela’s death, so many have been quick to openly announce how much they miss her, but I find this really hard to swallow. She was not around and responsive enough for her to be missed in such a short period of time. This is the same girl who would disappear for weeks without anyone questioning it and would send screenshots of over a thousand unread messages instead of actually looking through them. It’s not my place to say, but no, I find it hard to believe that more than a handful of you truly miss her. Many of you don’t, not yet.
You’re simply overwhelmed at the thought of what’s to come. The idea of waiting for a response for a couple weeks and then getting worried. The thought of finally calling to check up on this girl and knowing there won’t be a response. The thought that when all else fails you can’t simply march up to her apartment and know that she will come to the door, apologize and look at you like you’re crazy for checking up on her. And all of that is fine. I say you will find comfort not to be cynical, but to remind you that when this happens this is when you will truly grieve. This is when you will walk through your memories with Angela in sincerity and remember her as she actually was.
It will be comforting because when you finally start to grieve, you can begin to mourn, and in that mourning you will realize that you have not forgotten her. And as you remember Angela, you can start focusing on how you can celebrate her life instead. It’ll be hard, there’s no denying that. And it will be long. Just know that you won’t be alone.
To those consoling:
To be honest, I don’t know that I can give you any concrete advice to help those grieving. Like I said I hate generalized messages, each person you want to help will be different. Just be patient with them. It’s a hard time for us all. Some will have broken down, grieved, mourned and recovered all in one day while others will take years. Some will scream, some will cry and others will be silent through it all. Some will want to be surrounded by friends and family while others will need complete isolation. Have patience. Try to understand. It’ll be hard to stand by and watch, you’ll likely feel powerless, but if you care for this friend you’ll do what you can.
As with many other hard times in our lives, we’ll get through it together. Whether that means talking it out or silently supporting from afar until we are needed. Just remember to have a sense of self-preservation. Support each other where you can, find strength and solace in one another, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember to take care of yourself as well.
To those consumed with guilt:
It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. Read that until it is ingrained in your head, alright? You are not to blame for what has happened. If this reminder was not what was left with me when I first found out I don’t know what kind of state I would be in right now. And I purposely pass this along to everyone connected to this death, fully aware of what it means and all that it entails.
If you’re like me at some point you probably found yourself going through everything you could find related to Angela. Text messages, Facebook, group chats, games, photos, online message boards … anything that might give you a clue as to what the hell happened and whether or not there was anything that could have changed it. You probably went back and analyzed every single message to see if you could detect even a change of tone or voice. ANYTHING to say this was it, I should have known, I should have done something to change it. But here’s the cold hard truth. I found nothing.
Now don’t get me wrong, this depression is anything but a surprise to me, however the suicide was not something I expected. Our last exchange was on Tuesday. I dug through her game history and saw that she played on Wednesday night. The incident took place on Friday. That is one day. One day that is unaccounted for among those closest to her. ONE DAY for all of our lives to be shaken in this way.
You know it’s far too cowardly to say there was absolutely nothing we could have done. But at the same time, do you understand how cruel that is to tell someone, “You should have been there for her that day”? Do you understand how, by saying that, you mean to say they should have kept up with Angela every single day to make sure they didn’t miss that one day? To say that whether you knew about her depression or not that they should have kept up with every part of her life? That to say that you should have done that for this girl means you should also be there for others, for every single day of their life to ensure that no one slips through the cracks because you couldn’t possibly know who could or would break? Do you understand the extent of what you’re saying? Do you understand how cruel that is? If you do, then I hope you understand why you shouldn’t say that to yourself.
Angela had friends, she had family, and she had help. She had people who knew about what she was dealing with to fight the hard fight with her and she had people who didn’t so she could step away from it all when she needed to. She was not alone in this world, don’t you worry about that. I used to pat myself on the back for having dealt with depression for so long and surviving it all. Almost a decade now that I’ve lived with this thing. Almost a decade. And yet I couldn’t do shit for this dear friend of mine. It just wasn’t as simple as no one being there for her or not being loved enough…
Look, don’t get me wrong. Guilt is crippling, and often times it feels right, it feels just. I know. But it’s not going to do anything for us. Yes, feel guilty, feel regret, lament about all the things you could have done, but then step forward. Conserve your energy for the fight ahead. You can sit in your jail cell, carrying out a life sentence, or you can accept this offer to rejoin society and choose to pay back what you feel you owe.
To those suffering through depression:
Man, what I wouldn’t give to be able to sit inside your head with you… First and foremost, I am compelled to ask you to seek help, professional help, if and when you can. You’ve probably heard it more than once now if this is something you’ve dealt with for some time, but please give it a strong consideration. There is only so much that you, and others around you, can do. With that said if there is ever anything I can do for you please let me know. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best to help with what I can.
I’d really like to give you something to walk away with, but because everyone’s experience with depression can vary so drastically I’m not sure what to say. I’ve always been under the impression that there’s no quick panacea for depression and that everything that makes you who you are is intertwined. So unless I spell out my life’s story for you any advice would be in vain. If however you find that you’d like to talk about it, come find me and talk to me in person. I’m not much of a conversationalist, but if you just need someone to listen or want to poke my brain for past experience, I’ll usually be more than willing.
To those who want to help:
There are a couple things you can do right now.
It is the family’s wish that we do our best to help make sure no one has to endure this same kind of hardship again. It is for this reason that they’re asking for donations to be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Their story will be there as well should you wish to read it.
The second thing you can do is to be more aware. If you truly wish to be there for others suffering through it, educate yourself first. You know how people always recommend those experiencing depression to “seek help”? Why not take time out to go see what “seeking help” actually entails? Reach out to the organization helping those suffering with depression and ask them for advice on how you can help others or at least look to understand the program that you may inevitably recommend.
Outside of that just try and live a life that contributes to a world that makes people want to stay. I could probably talk for days on this idea alone, but I think it’ll suffice to simply say that the solution to depression is not as simple as learning meditation, taking a pill or keeping those suffering out of harm’s way. Live a good life and be kind to others and you’ll find others will slowly do the same.
Thank you for taking the time to read this senseless rambling. I hope you are well. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself, and if you have energy to spare, those around you as well. Try not to linger for too long. I know I don’t have much more energy to expend on this.
I regretfully knew this wonderfully frustrating human being all too well and know exactly what I need to do to honor her life. It’s going to be rough, but I hope you’ll figure it out and are able to join me in due time.