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Depression is an illness of isolation.
It spews lies. You are alone, it hisses. No one understands you.
When Eleni Pinnow found out that her sister Aletha had died by suicide, she decided to put an end to the lies.
“I had to be honest. I had to tell the truth,” Pinnow wrote in a Washington Post essay.
“By the time I sat down to write my sister’s obituary I knew that the opening line could only be one thing:
Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth (formerly of Oswego and Chicago, IL) died from depression and suicide on February 20, 2016.”
The beautiful obituary honoring Aletha, a special education teacher, spread quickly via the Internet, as readers reacted to its honesty and openness.
Aletha’s obituary conveys her effervescent personality, her sense of humor, and the intense love her family had for her.
“Unfortunately, a battle with depression made her innate glow invisible to her and she could not see how desperately loved and valued she was,” the obituary reads.
In her Washington Post essay, Pinnow writes, “My sister’s depression fed on her desire to keep it secret and hidden from everyone. I could not save my sister. I could not reach my sister through her depression. I can only urge others to distrust the voice of depression. I can plead for people to seek help and treatment. I can talk about depression and invite others into the conversation. I can tell everyone that will listen that depression lies. I can tell the truth.”
Eleni’s courage in sharing her sister’s death—and life—is so important in the journey to drop the stigma of depression. While the World Health Organization estimates that around 350 million people suffer from depression, one of the illness’ hallmarks is feelings of isolation.
Pinnow recommends that anyone considering suicide reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or go to the website save.org.
Eleni writes, “Here is the truth: You have value. You have worth. You are loved. Trust the voices of those who love you. Trust the enormous chorus of voices that say only one thing: You matter. Depression lies. We must tell the truth.”
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Caitlin Oriel