One of the many compliments you offer me is that I write about depression and suicide in a ‘beautiful and eloquent way’ and I thank you so much for that but I feel I’m doing depression and suicide a favour in that explanation because it’s not beautiful. It’s soul-destroying. Gut-wrenching and the darkest times of our lives.
And so today, I want to write about that. The ugly side of depression and suicide because it’s not beautiful or something that should sound like a prose in a Shakespearean play. It ruins us and so very often takes our lives in the process.
Just recently, after my beautiful birthday ironically, I went through another extremely scary suicidal episode; one in which I felt the determination to end my life as I had done back in October when I walked into the sea at Bondi and came very close to needing hospital but because I don’t know every one’s reasons for getting to that ‘dark and scary’ place, I can only write about mine.
So here are some words I wrote about my thoughts and emotions during that time to give you an idea of just how out of control, dark and nonsensical someone’s thoughts can become when they’re struggling as much as I was:
“A friend asked me how I was today. I told him I was back in my ‘dark and scary’ place. He asked me if I had good people supporting me and I replied that I had ‘lots’ but that I ‘wasn’t being honest with any of them’. That’s the problem when you get this bad. You completely shut down. I feel like death. The walking, attempting-to-be-functional epitome of the Grim Reaper. Except I’m the one carrying the scythe.
Why would I want to tell anyone how I’m feeling? So they can save me? Why would I want that? So I can sit there listening to well-meaning but misguided platitudes about how strong I am? Strong. That’s got to be an oxymoron right now surely. I’m so weak that Mum wants to talk about where we should go on our travels and all I can do is cry over Skype and shout at her to stop talking about it. She’s booked her flights and I’m angry at her for doing so!!! I’m angry because she’s brought me out of denial and made me realise that Bondi will soon end. I don’t think I’m going to survive that but I can’t even be honest about it because people will consider me ungrateful or tell me to ‘get over it because everyone gets the ‘post holiday blues”. Except, I am incredibly grateful, after all my hard work, to have achieved my dream of calling Bondi home but I have put my heart and soul into living life here and it will break me to walk away from it. It will feel as though someone has died but I can’t confess it because people will call me melodramatic and I will then feel weak that I can’t simply ‘get over it’ as everyone wants me to.
And let’s talk about weak shall we? For all the times I write that it’s not weak to suffer with mental health problems, I’m talking hypocritical bullshit because even though we know things logically, it doesn’t mean we can FEEL them. Right now, I feel weak even though I know that I am not. I go to sleep every night wishing for the universe to magically end my life in the night and wake up disappointed to discover my existence continues.
Everyone wants me to get excited about travelling with mum but I can’t and you know why? Because whilst I will have fun sometimes, I also know how devastated I am going to be as I accept that it’s almost time to go home. That I have had to say a forced goodbye to the place that my heart calls home. That once I leave and start travelling that it will be the realisation of my entire life changing for the unknown (let’s hear it for the ‘you need to embrace change’ and ‘it will all work out’ bullshit). That I will be forced to go home (because I don’t have the money to continue on anywhere else) and I will be back in a dead-end town living with mum with no job prospects and no career or degree to fall back on, 3 friends (I wish that were a joke but I have just 3 friends at home) and no dating prospects on the scene. That I will be 29 years old starting over in life as though I were fresh out of college when all I want in life is a husband and a baby.
The thought of never being pregnant with my own child alone is enough to convince me to end my life never mind everything else. And I probably can’t get pregnant again anyway. I’ll find the man of my dreams and discover I can’t get pregnant or carry a baby to term because that’s just the way my life seems to go; I have to fight for everything or I don’t get it! Though no-one’s going to want to marry me. Can you imagine how ugly all the wedding photos will look when my fucked-up smile ruins them all? No wonder I’m single!
I can add it to the extremely long list of all-consuming regrets that my mind is currently re-enacting for me. Regrets of the money I wasted because I didn’t know how to ‘travel properly’ or cheaply. The clothes I bought at 18 years old for no good reason over the years thinking of how much I could have saved wishing I had discovered travel sooner and had the mentality of always looking for the next trip.
But I can’t tell anyone because they won’t understand. They’ll tell me ‘not to think about it’ which is just as bad as ‘pull yourself together’. I can’t stand platitudes. I know that they’re meant with love and often because the other person doesn’t know what to say in that moment or they’re trying to keep you from going under but I feel like punching them when they tell me to ‘just keep going’ or that ‘I’ve come through it before’. Yes I’ve managed to pull myself out of the gutter before and keep going and yes, I suppose that does make me strong but it doesn’t mean that I can do it again. There are only so many times you can get knocked down in life! But wait! There’s a platitude for that too – ‘fall down 7 times, stand up 8’ or something along those forgettable, unrealistic lines.
And all of this anger and ungratefulness makes me feel as though I am the ugliest person in the world. I have friends who love me, a nice family and a roof over my head and yet I can’t be happy with it. I am the total opposite of that right now. People are losing loved ones all over the world naturally (including myself) and here I am wanting to take myself out voluntarily and inflict pain on my friends and family; what a bitch. No wonder I deserve to die”
Almost two weeks into this horrific suicidal episode I write this…
“I think I need to go to hospital but I can’t. I don’t know what lie to tell work and what can I say to mum? If I tell her the truth she’ll worry about me more than she already is and she’ll want to catch a flight out here but I don’t want her to see me like this; it’s embarrassing that I’m so pathetic and weak at my age. Oh look! There’s that word again; weak. I really wish the stupid stigma of depression hadn’t managed to worm its way into my head because I am not weak; I have an illness! Except, I’m not allowed to say that right?! I’d be allowed to say ‘I’m ill’ if I had cancer or even flu but god forbid I admit to having an illness that I will have to spend my whole life justifying because you can’t see it.
My whole life. I am stuck with this soul-destroying illness for the rest of my entire life and for what? Waking up one day during puberty and my brain deciding it was going to fuck me over for the rest of my days? Maybe I could at least understand it a little more if I’d had a shit childhood or traumatic experience but no, just like my liver condition, ‘things changed’. And I had no say in it.
I am never going to be truly happy because I’m just going from one depressive episode to the next even if I have great times in between. I’m like that brother in Harry Potter’s sub-story of the Deathly Hallows trying to outrun death but instead of wearing an invisibility cloak, I’m wearing a lead one pulling me down and Death constantly reminds me that he knows where I am. Talk about screwing myself over.
But I can’t tell anyone because what’s the point? They’ll hate me. They’ll get tired of listening to me or won’t be able to cope with how terrifying my thoughts are so it’s best not to say anything. Besides, they’ll only try and save me and why would I want that? I will never have a family of my own, I’ll be stuck in a dead-end job for life and I’ll never be happy. What possible reason would I have for fighting my head to keep going for a life like that?”
Those are some incredibly heavy and extremely depressing thoughts to read aren’t they?! That is my head on a daily basis when I’m suffering a major depressive episode as I am now.
You see, it’s incredibly ugly. I have victim mentality, greed, ungratefulness, a sense of entitlement, regret, illogical anxieties, selfishness and when I start to come out of the episode in which I feel all those horrible emotions, I have the biggest negative emotion of all to deal with; shameful guilt. Guilt that I can’t just ‘push through’ or ‘deal with it like everyone else does’. Guilt that I feel all of the above despite people being ‘worse off than me’.
When I read those words back to myself, I don’t recognise the person who has written them and that’s one of the fundamental reasons we end our lives – we are not ourselves. Yes, I feel some of these emotions most of the time when I’m suffering a bad episode but when you’re considering suicide it’s because all of your negative emotions and thoughts caused by the depression are amplified to the point where we can’t hear reason, logic, different perspectives or love without turning them back into something negative which is why I stay quiet because I can’t hear anything positive or logical you have to say. Every thought leads to another negative one as we travel down a spiral of self-hatred and loathing until we reach the bottom surrounded by nothing but darkness.
The saddest part being that I tell no-one how I really feel even when I’m being ‘honest’. I will say I’m ‘struggling’ or ‘feeling down at the moment’ but I never go into details because we’re all too busy attempting to deal with our own problems, I can’t bare to burden people. And, if my thoughts scare me, I don’t wish to put that fear on to others so I stay silent.
And that is the killer.
Because when you’re depressed, silence doesn’t speak a thousand words.
It deafens you.