Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Lies we tell ourselves

Asmaa Tayeh | 08-10-2019

This is Gaza from above. Each house has a family, each with a different story. And it’s a pretty safe bet that each family has at least one person going through their own version of hell. Mohammed is the most popular name in Gaza, and to me, it represents all young men struggling to keep from being overwhelmed by depression. This poem is for the souls of all the people who choose to end their lives and those who are not yet there, but close. I want them to know I'm thinking about them.

I’m depressed, he says.
It’s not depression, what you’re going through,
they insist.
When he was alive, Mohammed expected nobody
to care or lend a hand.
When he took his life, he believed,
this was the only way to remind the world
that he existed and suffered.

In my city,
they think you lock yourself in your room
when you’re depressed;
feel sick, sleep more,
cry most of the day and act ‘weird.’
They think you always have a choice
to be happy or sad.
They believe you have the key to a better life;
you just don’t use it,
if you admit to being depressed.

But in my city,
all of us are mentally sick.
All of us live the same shit.
All of us feel and cannot handle depression.
Yet all of us think the others are exaggerating.
And all of us assume others are perfectly sane!

In my city,
It’s somehow a shame if you admit
you are sad or depressed.
They expect you to be strong,
even a hero,
impervious to weakness,
always courageous.

But the truth is this:
In my city,
depression knocks at every door,
invades every heart
and wins almost every battle.
It’s strong.
It can kill.
Will it leave soon?
That I doubt.

In my city,
young people find peace in suicide.
Their families and friends
weep and regret.
I wish I could have helped, their friends say.
He should have known it’s haram*, others say.
The number of suicides is growing, the government warns.
I, or someone I love, could be next, I say.

*Haram: Arabic for “forbidden”

Posted: October 7, 2019

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