Crossing the Line

Iris Reinbacher
4 min readAug 22, 2021

What happens on the other side

When we first meet, you won’t notice anything. All you see is a moderately charming, well-put together, and most importantly normal woman. Of course you do. After all, I’ve had decades to perfect my facade. Even my closest friends have no clue, and we go back 20 years and more. So, don’t feel bad if you didn’t pick it up right away. It’s not your fault.

But don’t worry. I’m not a secret serial killer or pedophile. I’m not even your (un-) friendly neighborhood psychopath. I’m just one of the thousands struggling with depression.

Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

Most of us get really good at hiding how we feel. There’s no use talking about it. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s not that people are callous or don’t care about you — you wouldn’t approach those in the first place. I also don’t think there is much stigma attached to this condition. After all, everybody has a lousy day every now and then, and roughly 15% of adults experience depression in their life.

So that’s not it. It’s just that most people don’t know how to respond. Go ahead, try it yourself:

I’m not feeling well. You know, sometimes I think if I jump off a bridge, nobody would care.

What do you say to this? “I would care,” is not really useful because once I have those thoughts, I won’t believe you anymore. So what do you say? It’s not that easy. Heck, I don’t know what I’d want to hear, and I’ve been there.

And yet, while I have contemplated suicide several times in my life, I never took the final step. Yes, I had serious thoughts about slicing my wrists, jumping in front of a train or driving my car off the road. But I never crossed that line.

My mother did. And my grandfather too, probably, in a rather roundabout kind of way. And so did several people I knew over the years. I can’t imagine what it took them to do it. Survival is the strongest instinct in any species. Most people would do unspeakable things to live for just a day, for just an hour longer. But thousands of people decide otherwise every day. What made them cross the line I cannot fathom. But I do know what they saw on the other side.

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Iris Reinbacher

Scientist by training. Writer by choice. Japanophile by calling. What I’m up to: goinggaijin.com What Kyoto is up to: whatsupinkyoto.com