On living with depression and suicidal feelings | Sami Moukaddem | TEDxLAU


Translator: Li Kleing
Reviewer: Queenie Lee I am five years old, I am standing on the balcony, 7th floor,
and I am calculating. And I go to my grandmother and ask her, “What happens when people die?” She says, “Nothing;
everything goes black.” So being practical, I went to my bedroom,
lay down on my bed, closed my eyes. Ten minutes later, I started to cry because I felt myself in darkness. I cried because I lost
the option of not existing, because that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to not exist anymore. Now, things got better, much better. By the age of 13, I was praying. And I had an amazing experience
where my chest just opened, and I felt this love for the whole world. Like a state of bliss,
and it lasted for about two months. Literally, I felt love for everything
around me – rocks, whatever. I had been reading about a serial killer. There is love coming. It’s strange. But then something weird happened. It’s like a light bulb
that just got an extra bit of light and it popped. And I fell in a hole inside myself, and that’s the beginning of depression. By the time I was 18, I had just moved to Ireland,
and just like the practical five-year-old, I felt, “OK, I don’t
want to exist anymore.” So here is the plan. I’m going to try to not commit suicide
because friends and family would hurt. So I’m going to try to work on myself
as much as I can, and if I can’t,
then I’ll leave this place. So, I went into psychology. As a DIY job, I wanted to work on myself. Nine years later,
I came out with three Masters. And I ended up working
in the field of trauma, somehow, extreme trauma, like sexual abuse
and victims of torture. It took me 30 years, from my first fall, for the suicidal feelings to stop. And I would consider myself
no longer depressed although I do get depressed,
but it’s due to life circumstances. In my case, I don’t see it
in terms of a mental illness. I see it as more of a physical illness and an ailment of the soul and the psyche. In my situation, it was clear
that there was trauma in my childhood, so I decided I was going to approach it
through psychology work and not take drugs. Now, I’m saying this
because not all depression is the same. And some of the approaches
that I applied on myself are actually not appropriate
and even dangerous in other situations. I am not against medication. By the end of this talk,
in about 12 minutes, 24 people throughout the world
will have committed suicide. That’s just the statistics. That’s one in every 30 seconds. Now, there’s a lot of misconceptions
about suicide and depression, and they make things much worse. For example, one of the things
that I had to deal with is this attitude of:
why don’t you snap out of it? That’s like looking at a homeless person
and saying, “Why don’t you get rich?” My brother admitted to me just recently, he said, “You know,
I know it sounds stupid now, but when we were kids, I used to think that you chose depression
because you used to listen to sad music.” Now, had he said it to me at the time, I wouldn’t have had
the language to say to him, “You know, AC/DC and Van Halen, they do work but not all the time, and when they don’t work … (Sighs) I’m lonelier. What I need is something that reflects my state
in the outside world. So there are two of us – two miseries.” Some of the suggestions
while they could come from a good place bring an extra pressure. For example, a friend
would walk in and say, “Check this out. There’s proof that if you do sports,
chemicals will be released into the body, happy chemicals; just check it out, do it,
you really should do it.” Well, when you’re depressed, the weight of your body feels
much heavier than its actual weight. So I could go for a jog
for five minutes, and then I stop, and the last thing I need
is another sense of defeat. “OK, fine. Why don’t you go for a walk?
Clear your head.” Here is my head on a walk. In those moments,
it took me a while to realize what I need most is actually
to be in bed, curtains closed, and with the least amount of stimulation, just like a migraine person needs. Except with migraine it’s more acceptable. But with depression, that attitude is: umm, umm,
you’re not making the best out of life. The amount of times that I wished I’d developed cancer
or was hit by a bus so I could be in a wheelchair and say, “I’m in a wheelchair, man;
this is going to take a while.” The worst thing about … those misconceptions out there is that with time
I began to internalize them. And I would develop
impatience with myself. Impatience is a fight
between you and yourself, a rejection of parts of yourself. And with time, you stop … wanting to be vulnerable because it hurts. You lose parts of yourself, and you forget that they were
there in the first place, and you stop looking for them. Like I said, I was studying and applying. Here is a list of all
the psychology approaches, a summary that I’ve applied on myself. (Laughter) You can Google,
there’s a lot of stuff out there. But here’s one point, not one single one of them
works all the time. I did this gentle yoga workshop one day – and I’m talking about super gentle. All I had to do was feel the contact
between my feet and the floor. That’s all. And feel my breath. Within an hour and a half, I had a whole lot of
suicidal feelings coming up, and I was stuck with that
for the rest of the day. (Laughter) Would you like some? So overall, it was not a bad thing; overall, it was an indication
of what I need to work on, but the point is
I wasn’t ready for it that day, and that was not the intention
of the workshop. I’m getting more powerful
when I’m coming out of depression, I’m feeling … Can you feel the inner Godzilla? (Laughter) (Applause) (Cheers) (Applause) To summarize all these attitudes,
it boils down to one thing. This natural voice
that says, “Sami, fight! Those emotions you feel, push them down. You ought to develop
the kind of character that pushes them down
and you are master of yourself. Fight!” The best analogy
I can come up for depression is that you are in the sea,
and the current pulls you. When the current pulls you, the common wisdom
is that you don’t fight it, because if you fight it,
you get exhausted and you drown. The wisdom is to surrender to it. Wait for the current to spit you out, and then you find your way
back to the shore. And that is what 30 years
of depression means to me. 30 years of finding my way
back to the shore. Now, some of you
don’t deal well with analogies, so I’m going to show you physically
what that looks like. Just one second. It’s a yoga technique. Here go the socks,
very nice socks and what is it? When I say that the current pulls you down, it actually pulls you down
to the bottom of the sea. This process can last
from two days up to a week. Walking – everything is OK
or if I’m not walking, I’m standing, and suddenly, there’s no energy. The body goes like this. You don’t have much control
of yourself anymore. And then you find yourself on your knees. At the bottom of the sea
is where I meet my monsters. And I would fight my monsters, and the more I fought,
the bigger they got. Until with time, a lot of time,
I learned to listen. And when I listened,
they became beautiful creatures. And they would hand me secrets. And they would point me
towards the vulnerable bits in myself that I had long forgotten. And they would help me integrate. And to translate that, it’s something like this:
I’m in a therapy session, I’m feeling pain, this depressing pain, and my therapist says, “Sami, stop fighting it.
Try to go with it.” So I allow myself to cry. And after 20 minutes, (Chattering teeth) I stop because all sorts
of weird stuff is happening. Trauma is a negative, overwhelming experience
that got frozen in your body. The tears are just the ice melting. What I’m saying is
there’s been a lot of crying. And a lot of surrendering to the notion
that I’m bigger than this, because this isn’t. Everything that is inside of me
that I am fighting with, whether it is somebody
has said something horrible or a negative judgment of myself, that’s a monster. A dream that has its own language
where I wake up feeling horrified, that’s another language
that I need to decode. Now the stuff that happens to us
before the age of five, it’s harder to access because of the formation
of memory in the brain. You may get a trigger,
or you feel miserable. You feel you want to die, but you don’t have
the accompanying image to process it. It’s years of translating
the lessons of the sea and then bringing them back to the land. (Laughter) We need more work. Hey, thank you. I’ve grown to see my inner world
as both land and sea. What I need to do is keep translating
the lessons of the sea to the land. That means learning more or continuing to do some of the approaches
that have worked at certain times, and have patience
that the seeds that I’m planting – have patience that winter
will come and it will rain; have a patience that
if I’ve planted beautiful seeds that with time,
they will bear fruit and flower. One day I came up with the idea
that I should sit on the side of my bed, get in touch with that experience
of the five-year-old that wanted to jump, and for two months
I would imagine I’m hugging myself, as the older son while still being here. And the voice that has
developed over the years – I call it the assassin’s voice – which says, “Come on,
let’s get out of this place. You don’t really want
to continue to live for others.” With time, within those two months, I realized that voice
wasn’t a negative voice. It wasn’t trying to kill me. It was trying to show me that I
should start focusing on living for me. I rang my aunt a couple of weeks ago, and I said, “I heard
you want to come to the talk. You know, I’m going to be talking
from my personal space?” She says, “Yeah, I know. Why don’t you just try talking as if you are telling the experience
of one of your clients-patients that you used to work with?” I said, “There is nothing more powerful than talking from your
authentic experience. People would appreciate that.” “I know, but there
would be people in the crowd who might want to put you down.” And she’s naming
the negative voices in society, which I think, actually,
are not the majority. The majority are compassionate. And even a negative voice is sometimes a compassionate voice
that has lost its way. And I said, “I wanted to speak,
not just for myself, but for other people who have been silenced by that pressure
of when you ask them “How are you?” – and it seems to be
an international phenomenon, especially in capitalist societies –
that you say “I’m good.” There is a kind of pressure to be cool
if you don’t have issues. I mean, a long time, I kind of realized
that the more I share about myself, the more people tell me their stuff. You know, and I learned
to deal with that false coolness. You don’t have problems? You’re cool? I’ve got lots of problems.
That’s how cool I am. I don’t want to fall into this idea
that my life is totally belonging to me, that I am the sole author of my life
– because I’m not. Because I’ve had a lot of help. And when I open up, I get a lot of flow. And I want it to keep flowing. This is the first time
in the history of humanity as we know it that we can make so much influence
in each other’s lives throughout the whole world. By now, 24 people have committed suicide. The question is:
how are you going to deal with it? Two weeks ago, Robin Williams died. I looked at it on the internet
and what was being said, and I realized that his daughter
can read these comments, and that what we say
can make a difference. And most of the comments were positive, but some would say, “I’ve been there.
He shouldn’t have done that.” Next time – this is my suggestion. Next time you meet somebody who says – who appoints themselves
to this position of authority of “I’ve been there,” just very calmly say, “Since you haven’t committed suicide,
you haven’t really been there. And since you are here
in the same here that I am, I’m going to tell you, every single thing you say
can be either positive or negative. Both will have an impact on me. And the tone by which you say it will make sure it will live in me
long after it has been said.” With that, I am going to leave you
with two examples, of two extreme choices
and show you what they do to me. The first one, I’d like you to get in touch
with your most judgmental, harsh side, and just point your finger
at me and go like this: zzz … (Audience) zzzzzzz Come on, come on, everybody. Get nasty, get nasty on me. It’s been done to you. You know it. rrrrrrrr … OK. And it stays long after it’s been said. The next one – I’m going to leave you now, no need to think I need
to say anything after that. Can I take this off? I can. I want you to sit with both feet
on the floor, please, and with your spine right up. I want you to give me
your most compassionate sense of being, and it doesn’t matter
if you like me or not. Actually, if you don’t like me
it’s even better because this is not about me,
it’s about you. So just a gentle hum. Hmm … (Audience) Hmmmmm Come on. This is what happens. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 comments

  1. i can't make it through the day without the longing for death.. i keep trying and fighting. doing everything everyone tells me to or things people say works.. and sometimes i can come out of it for a few days but then right back to that dark hole and i swear it gets darker and deeper every time.. i just want a way out. a way out of this endless feeling or a way out of life.

  2. Most people would run away from a madman 's bullet. I would consider running towards them.I have been so sad for a long time.

  3. See.. I’ve been swimming two long, I’ve become exhausted.. so I drowned.. and right now I’m almost at the very bottom..

  4. The only thing preventing me from killing my self is having the rope. Sure there are other methods but that’s the way I want to go.

  5. thank you so much for ur sharing, so inspiring, I will share to my friends suffered from mental illness to encourage them.

  6. The healthcare field where I live don't have a clue how to properly care for people with depression because they don't understand it, nor do they want to understand it. They see depressed people as feeling sorry for themselves, they give statements like "Just snap out of it," or "Get a dog, that'll make you feel better," or "Go to church, you'll meet people." They don't ever try to get to the core of the problem, and it is different for everyone. Of course, they then simply prescribe ssri's that don't work, because it gets you out of their office and ends the burden you have placed on their precious time. No wonder why people turn to alcohol to drown their sorrows, since no one else seems to care.

  7. Just as, when people tell me to stop smoking saying "that's deadly!". Me in my head "that's the point"

  8. I ve learnt to embrace and cuddle my depression. I don't want it to go away. It's beautiful. Wish I had surrendered to it long ago.

  9. Wishing you were disabled so people won't expect much from you, This is so much more common in depression than youd think. Then depression will kick you while your down by making you feel lazy and pathetic for wishing such a thing.

  10. I wish I didn’t exist. I’m tired of being in this body. I want to go. I’m in pain. Losing another job hurts so bad. I can never do anything right. I’m ready to sleep and not wake up.

  11. I want to die peacefully,my whole life has been everything except peaceful.
    I want my final moments to be peaceful.
    That's all.

  12. Sometimes im asking if people in this top coments are still alive today… their thoughts are heartbreaking.. no one deserve this.

  13. described actually how I feel, there’s not a moment when I’m not thinking “can this be over yet” “I don’t want to be here anymore” “but if I do it my family, friends and other loved ones will hurt” I always think that if I do it I’ll just be passing on my hurt my pain , not that I don’t give them enough pain now :’(

  14. I lived through 10 years of severe depression which I described as the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Two years into it I asked for Extinction. It was not to be Death but intense soul-searching as I reflected on just about anything under the sun and recorded my thoughts, which were predominantly dark. It then dawned upon me that mind management was the way out and that I had to redefine my life from the important pieces remaining from a shattered life and what I discovered in the core of my being. Depression burned away all the trivialities in my life and taught me what is really important from what is not. Depression simplified my life and taught me Wisdom. I now see life as a journey in self discovery and development of character and potential. I have emerged a better and stronger person from the experience in depression and intend to go into motivational speaking.

  15. I’m there. Struggling to work through this dark storm. Just getting out of bed seems like an accomplishment. Working on it.

  16. Describes me perfectly. I'm perpetually suicidal. Many many times hospitalized. Now I just live with it. I Totally Want Non-existence. Never to live again. Blessings to this man, who knows the person I am.

  17. we all have our inner battles, mine was from losing someone i thought was the one my soul was made for but my love was too much and she left while at the same time killing my soul, took a long time to stop the hurt but it comes back from time to time

  18. This guy does not have depression,depressed people don’t talk on a stage to lots of people because they are too depressed to do so.

  19. I actually find it immoral to stop suicide. You need to end ur suffering and find relief no matter who it upsets.

  20. Compassion and understanding, yes indeed.
    When it gets so overwhelming, i sometimes think of suicide, or why I didn't died when i was so sick in the hospital, which caused me to end up without a job and disabled.
    Sometimes i wish to disappear and for all in tye family to forget i existed.

  21. What a beautiful kindhearted and humble man. I hope he sees all the uplifting comments left on here for him and how many people he touched because that beautiful hum kindness generates within ,he will be hugging his giraffe for eternity.. keep being you Sami I’m sure you left your auntie very proud

  22. I know how he feels . It's the worse thing that could happen to some one the word depprestion dose not totally deribe how intense and the pain you go through with the disease. People need help . Ike yesterday. We need even more awareness . Help those in need .stop turning are backs on people that need help. Please. 😥😥😥😥😥😥

  23. I have been living with them for 35 years. Lately I have been wondering if there does come a point when suicide just makes sense.

  24. Don’t fight the current or else you’ll just be exhausted. Eventually it will let you release you. Wow, just wow. I needed to hear this.

  25. Depression is almost always situational. Peeps just don't want to admit that, because they would need the courage to change their situation, either from within, ending toxic relationships, or their environment. Also, when we stop thinking of our petty problems and stop being the problems for countless innocent beings everyday, there is something called karma. God is love, not power from above, and love isn't biased. i can also attest to natural medicine such as Cannabis (anti depressants are also tested on animals!), yoga, exercise, sports….. And, love, not dependency 💚

  26. i am eight i am a god writer trust me i am 8 and i dont know what suicide/suicidal is and i want u guys to tell me please!

  27. My life is absolutely perfect, I’m upper middle class and my parents are together. I have friends that are kind to me and in school I’m a cheerleader. My doggy is the best boy ever and I’m fairly attractive. The thing is however I kind of hate myself, I wish I was dead, I wish I was thinner, I think everyone hates me and when stuff goes wrong. So don’t hate people everyone is going through it.

  28. I got told today that I'm more pathetic for not killing myself after I admitted I wanted to when I thought I did. I actually felt a little better because it happened as a result of me trying to expose him for the POS he is. Just for me though, I'm not gonna put him on blast for it.

  29. I’d prefer I know my son is ok and the current pulls me, I get hit by a bus. I’ll never have control. The weight 5x on depression hit me hard. That is exactly what it is.

  30. My parents are Asian and extremely strict, all they care is getting good grades, they show no love and they are never proud of what I have achieved.
    I would love to have some depressions therapy but in the Asian family depression is not in the dictionary so… I'm pretty much stuck in the middle wishing to be free from this miserable life. I would love to do it but I'm scared of pain.
    (I am Asian and this is just my secret acc. I'm a pro at being sneaky)

  31. So many profound things to say about this talk but I´ll go with what nobody has said yet and I found myself thinking over and over throughout the whole video: he ´s so cute and adorable 🙂 ♥

  32. The most depressing part while struggling from depression is the guilt feeling or questioning urself why you are so depressed while others are happy with their lives….

  33. By the time my seeds have taken root and grown into shoots, they have become a nuisance and MUST be pulled out of the soil. I can't stand the idea of anything good happening to my greatest enemy.

  34. Psalm 144:15 "happy is that people, whose God is the Lord" God will help you through this and He loves you all very much I pray that you all recover and heal and feel restored. Jesus loves you so much he was crucified for you and true peace comes from Him John 14:27. I encourage you all to accept Jesus as your Lord and saviour and repent of your sins. Psalm 37:4 "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" God bless you all.

  35. Suicide is not the answer. do you like love? Food? Something deep or sophisticated or simple, and so on. Do you like it /love it? Your purpose is what you want. it goes even deeper that than. It goes even more deeper than the meaning of life. life exist period. you exist period. what do you genuinely personally in your soul and mind you know you like?. thats a reason for life. It goes even deeper than that, you like something cool, im happy and i feel positive i dont need some word or definition or some label to tell me to make it a fact. i like something and i exist. there is no answer. YOU are the answer for the good and for the bad. (you make the answers not others) find out whats out there inside and out. and remember to vent and let your emotions run free and natural. remember theres sad time, bad time, good time, weird time, and extremely much more. learn about you. and love it. because i know you like it back. regardless of what life says.

  36. the worst thing is when u tell someone about how u are feeling and u expect them to comfort u but they say stop being dramatic

  37. What a compassionate man and speech!

    The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
    Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
    The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
    The mold of your life is in your hands to break.
    ~J. R. R. Tolkien

  38. My… Depression is.. random. It hits when its most unexpected. I have been through a lot of conspiracy through out my life years and up until my 17th i started to feel useless. All this bullying i have gone through the age of 5-15 has made me unsocial, a "wierdo" and i would get picked on everyday. It that. Sometimes i just dont want to wake up the next morning. Or maybe the next month or year. Because i know that no one would really care except of course my family. But your parents cant support you for ever. Sometime when my parents cycle ends , probably mines will too. Goodnight

  39. A very poetic man, but not just poetic. He’s practical too. And pragmatic. He seems complicated and I identify with that. It’s a complicated thing we share, after all.

    Sometimes I want to approach my priest at church with these problems, and I hope for a response like this one. This gent has a genuine air of holiness around him

  40. The hardest thing is everytime I open up to people whether it's my ex gf or my mom or anyone they always think that it's my fault I want to go through depression they even think am faking it

  41. Watching this while being depressed and demotivated… gotta class in an hour… still on bed trying to find my motivation…not for the class, just …..

  42. In a place like this nobody knows who you are, you can say whatever you want. If suicide isn't a sin, i'd split my wrist years ago.

  43. And yet still, if ppl are actually honest, 99percent of ppl will say you're choosing it. Not out of badness but because they dont understand how they themselves dont choose their state, the state chooses them.

  44. This could've been cut down to half the time to make it more powerful…not sure I gleamed much from this talk, but admire his courage to live

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