I don’t have a therapist. I don’t see a grief counselor. I don’t see a psychologist/psychiatrist. I know that I need to, but I stll can’t make myself do it. It isn’t because I’m afraid of a stigma–I have too many friends ‘on the couch’, as they say, for that. The human condition frequently requires a sounding board that sometimes intelligently answers back.
But I’m too stubborn for my own good, and so that leaves me on my own to deal with my shit. And I’m telling you guys, I have a lot of shit to deal with. It’s not just being a victim of familial suicide. I have anxiety and clinical depression, and there are other things I’ve been through that I can’t admit to publicly. Life hasn’t been very good to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a loving and supportive family. My parents are always behind me and will love me to the ends of the earth. I’m also relatively smart and talented, and at least somewhat socially capable. But it’s the rest of life that’s trying to kill me. I know it.
From a very young age, I’ve struggled with depression. When I was in elementary school, it manifested in a way much different than it has since. It’s hard to explain, really, but I think it was tied into my inability to socialize successfully with my peers. I learned recently that I was ostracized because the popular girl in my class was jealous of my pretty, long hair, and so everyone followed her lead and disliked me. It’s much more complicated than that, of course, but that’s where it started. The loneliness that ensued probably triggered a lot of my depressive states, but I’ve worked too hard to forget my childhood that I can’t adequately speak about it anymore.
My first fight with suicide happened in eighth grade. I spiraled down into this deep blackness that I grew unable to see out of. There was no light in any peripheral direction and everything seemed hopeless. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, or hobbies, or things I enjoyed, or that things weren’t going well. It wasn’t that I didn’t have things going for me. Depression doesn’t work that way. Depression says nothing matters, you don’t matter, life doesn’t matter, why bother? Depression says Who cares, Why care, What is there to care about? Nothing matters. Anxiety joined in and threw me panic attacks that made me want to die.
I started hearing voices in my head telling me to do things like take a handful of pills for that headache that’s probably just dehydration, to ‘accidentally’ slice open my leg when I was shaving, etc. It was winter by then, so roads were often icy, and it started to get so bad that one morning I realized how easy it would be to just end everything by turning the wheel and swerving into the semi passing me on my left. My brother was in the car, and we both probably would have died, and that doesn’t even count the semi-driver. I won’t pretend that it didn’t scare the shit out of me. Because it really, really did. I didn’t want to die. Part of me did, because thanks depression, but I really didn’t. I was holding onto the idea that eventually life would get better. It had to. Eventually I could leave that shitty-ass town and life would get better.
I came out of that depression cycle approximately all at once, seemingly out of nowhere. But the next one wasn’t far behind it. And I really mean it wasn’t far. Within two months, I was right back in the throes of depression, and it wasn’t any easier than the previous one–although I consider it a minor victory that I haven’t heard voices since that first one. The next voice I hear, I’m throwing in the towel and getting professional help. I haven’t got time to deal with schizophrenia on my own. Not happening.
Throughout high school, I spent more time fighting with depression than I did free from it. Even my writing reflects it, if you can find it scattered through my stuff. I’ve done a pretty solid job of finding and destroying most of my early writing because it’s terrible. Don’t get me wrong; I had moments of brilliance, but they’re so lost amid the crap that they’re hardly worth finding–and they’re far from usable it’s pointless to save them.
My senior year of high school, my younger brother committed suicide out of the blue. We’d been watching him for awhile ages before it happened, but at the time, he’d seemed to be doing just fine. It really came out of nowhere. He’d been making plans for what he’d do after graduation. And then just suddenly, he was gone. My life fell apart. Completely. I spiraled so far into depression that I didn’t even know which way was up. And, truth be told, even though I have high points and periods where I don’t feel completely helpless, I don’t think I’ve really made it all the way back out of that depression. My life is still in pieces, although I’ve gathered up as many of them as possible and hauled them along with me, because what else am I supposed to do?
I am still frequently suicidal. More often than I care to admit, actually. The last time it was bad was the week before finals last semester, and Captain and I damn near had my ass committed to a psych ward. Frankly, I’m still not convinced I should throw myself in one for awhile, but I don’t know that I can really afford to do it. But then, how much more of this can my mental/emotional health really sustain? I’m hobbling along–even though I argued with my mom over it this weekend. I’m hobbling along through life because I can’t figure out how to walk, let alone run or fly. I don’t think she really understands that the things I’m doing aren’t what’s holding me doing. I’m so broken-hearted on so many levels that I just can’t do it. And I’m trying, I really, really am. But it’s so hard. And the medication helps balance the brain chemistry enough to carry on, but not enough to actually feel good. I don’t even know what “Happy” actually feels like. I know what shadows of it feel like. I know what it can feel like because I’ve had fleeting glimpses. But I’m so far from it that I don’t even know what to do anymore.
I do the things I enjoy. I go to school. I learn things. I love my boyfriend. I go through the motions of everyday life. But happy? Do I even have time for happy? It just seems like it takes so much effort. People patrol my Facebook page because they’re worried about me, and although I get really annoyed by it all, I understand why. I have these moments of clarity where I get it. I do. But I don’t think they really understand the depth of the cracks through my heart. I haven’t yet found a glue strong enough to hold me together. Sometimes my emotional/mental turmoil is so bad that it turns into a collection of physical pains, and that’s when I seriously just want to lie in bed forever and neglect everything. I lose my purpose and forget why I give a shit about anything. It’s so hard to give a shit sometimes.
I read stories in which people lose loved ones, and even though I’m not emotionally invested in the thing, I still sit and cry because it prods a wound that hasn’t healed yet. You can cover a cut with a bandaid, but it still hurts when you poke it. I hurt when you poke me. Anywhere. With anything. It doesn’t even matter anymore. I would say that I’m desolate, but there are parts of me that aren’t.
That’s the complicated part of depression: you’re never all any one thing. You’re bits and pieces of yourself held together by a name and a timeline where some of you goes one way and some of you goes a different way. Which doesn’t account for the rest of you not going anywhere. And those parts vary in size day by day. You can’t really generalize your emotions when you have depression, because you feel a thing, but you don’t; you want a thing, but you don’t care; you know a thing, but, then again, what’s it even matter? And that inability to be wholly anything is what really bothers me most of the time. And even though I try–really, truly do try–I frequently just… can’t.