Trigger Warning: Depression, Suicide, and Mental Illness.
I’ve not been on here in a long time. I can’t get myself to check how long; not yet. I’ve made excuses: I’m too busy with school. With family. With my dad- he has cancer, you know. With my Mother- no, nothing new, just her. Fighting with the VA. Fighting with myself.
Truth is, I could find the time. I have it, even if sporadic. I spend it staring at walls and contemplating the world. Staring at screens, trying to get lost, or to find myself, I’m not always certain which.
I have depression and anxiety. Typically, the anxiety is worse by far. Sometimes it even helps- I stay too busy worrying to contemplate the depression. Sometimes, though, the depression is winning.
It can be set off by nothing, by existential crises, the state of the world, hormonal imbalance.
Sometimes, though, it is set off by something very specific.
Sometimes life is going well, you’ve been practicing self-care like a boss, staying on top of all of your “adulting” tasks, or at least some of them (dishes and laundry, can’t ever win with them), making actual progress on lofty goals that once were merely lofty dreams. Then unsuspectingly, with no warning or preparation, as you scroll down Facebook between loads of the never ending dishes while keeping an eye on a pot of all-day spaghetti, you learn of a death.
They do not mention precisely the means of death, but you know.
You know and it scares the shit of out you.
You didn’t see your friend often, but wasn’t it only last year you were having a rare heart to heart about mental illness? About how exhausting it is, how draining? Comparing it to having your soul perpetually ground down by a garbage disposal?
And it scares the shit out of you because of the assurances. “I may be miserable, but I am okay. I will get help at the first thoughts of self-harm. Besides, I have too much to live for.”
And it scares the shit out of you because you echoed the sentiment. Because his reasons are still here and he is not. Because telling yourself you could never leave your children just scares you that you will as you think of his daughters, just seven and three. You know he would never have done that to his girls. And yet. So when I am circling in the deepest depths of darkness, will my sons keep me?
Then the anger begins. Not you, but those around. Those who haven’t seen death as a welcome friend, always ready to take your hand when you are too tired, through to the bones, and you cannot take another step. They ask how he could do that to them, his wife, his mother, his friends. They cast blame on themselves, each other.
I hate the word suicide, and the stigma it brings. He did not kill himself. He died of disease, a cruel and heartless one, where pulling the plug and going on hospice is not an acceptable option. Had he done it slowly? Had he stopped eating, stopped caring for himself and wasted to nothing, would this be acceptable to you then?
Had he not succumbed, would he have found his way out of the darkness again?
Part of me wants to be angry at myself for not being a more active part of his life. Not reaching out, not checking in. We were never particularly close, but he trusted me enough to confide in me. I know that this is not how it works, though. Had I called him last night, I would still wonder if I should have done more. There is nothing to be done, now, except continue to advocate for mental health awareness. I add one more name to a list much too long of those I will never again be able to ask “How are you?”, I will never again wish them well.
This hit me hard. This is not about me, but it is about me. Me and every other person who deals with depression, who fights the stigmatization of mental illness.
I have more to share, after tonight. More about this. Some just… more pieces of me. I wish my friend had shared more of his life that I could hold to right now, so I am committing to try. I cannot promise tomorrow won’t find me curled into a ball unable to share anything. Wanting only to cry, but I’m not very good at it.
But I will try.
I am practicing self-care. I’ve reached out to friends. I’ve made myself eat, even though the sauce that simmered all day tasted like nothing to me. Tomorrow I will try to share more. I will try to create, to find an outlet for everything swimming around in my head. I ask that you do the same, no matter how hard you have to fight. Take a shower. Drink some water.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline