I didn’t want to write this. I’ve been dealing with depression on and off since I was 12. Yes, 12 years of age. That was the first time that life ever got so overwhelming that I thought maybe it was better to end everything than to see if my circumstances and mood would change. It’s been a difficult ride but over the years I’ve learned a lot. First off, I’ve been lucky that whenever my depression hits, the first thing I’ve done is to seek out a doctor because what I want most of all is to stop feeling depressed and I know I can’t do it alone. I know that for some people, even seeking help can feel too overwhelming but even through my sobs, I have always found someone who is willing to help me. Secondly, thanks to my willingness to attend therapy as needed, I’ve learned a lot about what I can do for myself to lessen my symptoms and be aware of whether or not I’m falling back into another bout of depression. That’s why I was taken aback this fall when I found myself feeling not just depressed but downright suicidal.
I have to admit, things hadn’t been going too well for me. As much as I love autumn, I always struggle with seeing the days get shorter and shorter until one day you take a nap and wake up in the pitch black wondering why it looks like midnight when it’s really only 5pm. I was also in a period of unemployment (and still am) and it was starting to get to me. Despite several interviews it seemed like nothing was panning out. But everyday I would tell myself, “At least I still have my writing!” That is until one day when my beloved editors announced that they were shutting down their website. It was on that day that I kind of lost it. It felt as if the one bright spark in my life (and the one decent thing I had going on my resume) had been taken away. I tried to console myself but instead I just sobbed and sobbed feeling completely aimless and, well, like a failure.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I stayed awake browsing the internet and it felt as if I couldn’t stop bad thoughts from entering my mind. It was almost like a classic cartoon, with an angel on one should and a devil on the other. It felt as if a conversation between the two was taking over.
“What would happen if you just went over to the balcony and threw yourself off? Would 25 flights really hurt or would you die instantly?”
“No, don’t do that. Don’t even think like that. Think about your family.”
“Okay, okay. But what if you just went to the kitchen and dragged a knife across your wrists. That wouldn’t be so bad, right?”
“No, that’s not okay. Could you really do that to your mother? Do you want your niece and nephew to grow up knowing that they USED to have an aunt?”
I tried hard to get my mind off it but before I knew it, it was 3am and I was on the phone to a suicide hotline. I was on hold. Thankfully, I saw that one of my friends who lives on the West Coast was still awake and I messaged her. I hung up the phone and my friend and I chatted over Facebook. Eventually I calmed down. My breathing returned to normal. I managed to go to sleep without so much as harming myself. That Monday I called my doctor’s office to talk to him about what I was going through. Looking back on this, I think I can be proud of this moment. Depression is horrible but it can be downright scary when it feels as though it’s pushing you toward an outcome that some small sliver of you knows you don’t really want. I wish I could say that these thoughts have gone away 100% but they haven’t. But everyday I’m fighting. Most importantly, I’m making plans. It doesn’t matter if it’s plans to go to the movies or meet a friend for coffee. Those plans prove to me that I still expect to be here in the future. I’m not going away any time soon.