Trigger warning: In the post, I am going to write about my personal experience with suicide and depression. I understand that this is a sensitive and painful topic. Please know that it is not my intention to hurt or offend anyone. I am writing because I believe this is an important issue that won’t get better if we refuse to speak about it.
Yesterday a young man in the town where my mother lives (pop. less than 3,000) died of suicide. I did not know him. I don’t know what happened or why, but I understand that his death was a shock to those close to him. No one saw it coming.
This news has hit me hard. These last few days I have been feeling down. Not very down, but especially blue. Particularly low. Depressingly…depressed. What is the modifier that explains I am not simply “sad” and about to feel a hundred percent better as soon as you tell me a good joke or hug me tight enough? I don’t know the best descriptor. I’ve been in the hole, and the news of this young person’s death is more meaningful to me today than it might be on any other day.
The other day, as I was turning into the parking lot behind my apartment building, I had the fleeting thought: Maybe the world would be better if I were dead. It came and went and I didn’t give it much weight, but a little piece of it lingered, waiting for today.
I have always thought of this thought as a symptom of an illness that I will probably have forever. It’s a chronic illness–sometimes I’m in remission for long periods of time, and then I have a flare-up. There is no warning. It doesn’t come on because someone made a mad face at me or because I don’t have a boyfriend or because it snowed. Before I realize what is happening, I’m in a black hole.
Depression is a sneaky, relentless bitch. It brings to the fore (in the middle of the night) every single mistake I have made in my lifetime and helps me imagine (in full detail) mistakes I have yet to make. It highlights all the people who dislike me and downplays the hundreds of people who love me. It points out my faults and weaknesses. It tells me that “someone is always listening” is complete bullshit, even though I know someone is, or will. It finds the one thing that will hurt me the most and says it over and over and over again. It convinces me that the world truly would be better if I had never been born.
I cannot be sure, but I imagine it is this way–and worse, yet–for others. Some of us live with this day after day until we can’t take it anymore. We don’t tell anyone because depression tells us that no one gives a good goddamn about us. We don’t want to bother anyone. We don’t want to make a big deal of it. We don’t want anyone (who hasn’t got a clue what this feels like) to offer advice. We just want it to go the fuck away.
Today was a hard day, but I am not in danger. I do not need to go to the hospital or call a hotline. I am remembering. I am mourning. I am worried. I am grateful. I am a little bit scared, but I will be ok.
I don’t want to say I am special because I know what it feels like to want to die and to try to die only to come out of it on the happy, shiny side, because that’s ridiculous. But for years, I have hoped that my ability to feel so deeply would one day become a gift, like a superpower that would allow me to literally feel another person’s pain and take it from them. Maybe it really is a gift. Maybe I already have that power.
I do want to say, “I am fucking listening.” Call me. Text me. Instant message me. Tell me exactly what you feel, the raw and real feelings, and I will not tell you to take a walk or a bath or a pill. I don’t know what I’ll say, but I just don’t want anyone to suffer alone.