Trigger warning: I’m gonna talk about some dark stuff for a minute. It wasn’t what I’d planned to write about today, but considering the events of yesterday, and some of the responses I’ve seen to them, this feels more appropriate.
One summer, not long after I had graduated from college, I thought about killing myself.
I was working a mindless, thankless job, for a company I didn’t believe in. I had a college degree but didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no ambitions and no prospects. I felt lost.
I was living with two roommates: a coworker who was engaged and out of town 90% of the time and her really weird sister who was at her parents’ house 90% of the time. I slept in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed I had inherited from previous roommates, ate my meals on the floor because we didn’t have any furniture, and listened to a lot of Travis, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Death Cab for Cutie. I felt lonely.
I was sort of dating a boy I cared about deeply, but only as a friend. I knew the relationship was doomed and that we were a hot mess together. At one point he told me he was considering suicide, and I drove home while fighting one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had. Another time he told me I was dead inside and incapable of normal healthy relationships. I believed him. I felt broken.
The few times I attended church, nobody spoke to me, not even to have me introduce myself as a new person or visitor. I don’t know if they even knew I was there. I didn’t want to go back because I wasn’t even sure why I was going. I felt invisible.
From the outside I’m sure I seemed to have it together. I was a new college grad with the entire world at my feet! I was working a steady job with good benefits and the potential for advancement! I lived in a beautiful condo in a beautiful city! I had a boyfriend! I went to concerts and movies and knew all the cool kids! I was tanned and thin and young and relatively attractive! My life was fantastic!
One night I found myself in the bathtub contemplating my razor. Where should I cut first? What would it feel like? How much blood would I see before I passed out? How long before the scalding water would get cold? Who would find me? And what would they do?
That was what snapped me back to reality and got me out of the tub. I was certain that the weird sister would be the one to find me, naked and dead in the bathroom, days after the fact. The idea was repulsive.
I didn’t want my parents to be appalled and embarrassed by my actions. I didn’t want my friends to speculate about why I did it. Quite frankly, I didn’t want that to be the last way anyone saw me. My pride and selfishness overrode my desire to feel better…because I just knew that if I died I would feel better.
That was the last time I seriously considered suicide. I moved to a new apartment with my best friend shortly after that. My sort-of boyfriend broke up with me. I eventually made some marvelous new friends, quit my job, and had some amazing experiences. Just over a year after the night I thought about killing myself, I met David and we all know how much better things have been with him around.
I’d had some depressive episodes before that one and a few since then, but nothing even close to that summer. My current mental issues are more about anxiety than depression. I have a strong support system, great medication, and some coping mechanisms that help me when I start heading into the dark places in my brain. I am doing well.
But I am lucky. Not everyone is able to fight their illness as successfully as I have thus far. Sometimes people choose to jump from a burning building because the pain inside it is just too much to handle.
Please know this:
1) Depression is a disease. It cannot just be “cured” by trying harder, or even by sufficient prayer and fasting. Prayer is good, don’t be me wrong, but it’s not always enough. Lifestyle changes, medication, therapy, and the constant love and support from family and friends are the best ways to help keep it in check.
2) Suicide is not selfish. It is a defense mechanism for someone who is hurting and desperate. It is heartbreaking and tragic for those left behind, especially when they don’t understand why. But its victims should be pitied and loved, not condemned.
3) Empathy is critical. People who deal with depression don’t need a guilt trip, they need kindness. They don’t need flippant remarks, they need loving words. They don’t need you to pretend it’s not a problem, they need validation and support.
Last but not least, if you are depressed or anxious or hurting in some way, you are not alone. If you need kindness, loving words, validation and support, send me an email (nothingnothingblog @ gmail . com). I want nothing more than for you to feel peace and joy and hope. If I can help, I will, in any way I know how.
Thank you, friends, for being a strength in my life so that my crazy brain doesn’t take control. I love you so very very much. Hugs all around.