Yes, I am still alive and still here. A lot has happened over the past few months. I will add a warning now, this post will be very dark. I will talk about depression and suicide. If those things bother you, then you should skip this part.
For some reason, our culture refuses to talk about suicide. It is some mysterious taboo that is too horrifying to speak of in the daylight. It is something that only hopelessly lost people think about. I think that is completely ridiculous and extremely unhealthy. If someone is feeling suicidal, we need to welcome them and comfort them, not shame them. I have had suicidal thoughts for years. But I have never said anything out loud because I was too afraid. I was afraid that if I told someone about it, that I would get locked in a padded room. That fear forced me to live so many years suffering quietly with the torment of those unspeakable thoughts. I hope that we, as a society, can learn to accept suicidal thoughts and help deal with them rather than create a culture of fear.
So, on to my story.
I had a lot of huge life events that happened, most of them terrible. My depression took a sharp nosedive and took me with it. I can’t really talk about the specifics of what happened in my life, because it is far too personal to share. But I can tell you that I have been dealing with the worst depression I have ever experienced.
I have always lived with somewhat of a mild state of depression, I call it the Depressodon. The Depressodon doesn’t really have a definite shape or form, it exists more as a shadow. I sometimes see him as the absence of happiness. He is there in the back of my head, sometimes contributing sad and awful things to my day. But mostly, he doesn’t exert much control over me. He grew to mammoth proportions a few months ago and very nearly defeated me.
The Depressodon feeds me irrational thoughts constantly. For example, if someone doesn’t call me or text me for a while, the Depressodon will suggest that they must hate me. Depressodon tells me that the only logical reason they would not talk to me is that they hate me and don’t want to be around me. I can tell that that thought is not very sound or logical when I say it out loud, or when I can identify that it came from the Depressodon. But when I am in the moment, and that thought pops up in my head, I have absolutely no way to distinguish where it came from. All I know is that I think that, and I can back it up with ‘evidence’, therefore it is must be true, and therefore I must feel bad.
I have to have a very close relationship with my thoughts because they make up the ‘real me’. The thoughts I have define my actions, which define how the world interacts with me, which determines how the world treats me. Any kind of breakage along that chain causes an enormous amount of distress and means that I can’t really function properly. I must have complete trust in my thoughts- all of them. If I can’t trust some thoughts because they might be irrational, how can I trust the other thoughts? How do I know which ones are irrational and which ones aren’t?
This is another example of the ‘black and white’ thinking, I can tell that much. But it is so fundamental to my existence that I can’t even imagine being alive without having complete trust in my thoughts.
I can often times spot these thoughts as being false, but over time they wear me down and I begin to accept them. I begin to adopt them and use them as mantras to protect myself. Whenever someone hurts me, I can just repeat to myself “Everyone hates me. It’s not a surprise. It was my fault for thinking that someone could like me or ever be nice to me.” Using the irrational thought to justify things can make them seem a lot less random and a lot more personal, which in turn makes them much easier to process and categorize.
I think is a large part of why Trapeziums struggle with depression so often. We have a difficult time determining which thoughts to trust, because we see things as binary. If we can’t trust some thoughts, then we can’t trust any thoughts. If we can’t trust any thoughts, then what do we have?
Another huge problem is that most of the advice people give consists of “Focus on the positive things” or “Ignore the negative thoughts”. I HATE that advice. There is no way to just ignore some thoughts. If you only focus on some thoughts and leave out the others then you are not being fully honest, and that is bad.
So for me, when I try to focus on the positive stuff, I then get worried that I am ignoring something huge and important. I then realize that I am not being honest and am telling myself lies by leaving out the bad side of things. That causes an inordinate amount of stress, which then makes me feel even worse. I haven’t yet found a good way to avoid that stupid cycle.
Anyways, back to the super depressing stuff. A few months ago, most of my life fell apart. I lost almost everything that I cared about and had worked so hard to build up. The Depressodon became much larger than anything I could have imagined. Instead of whispering quietly in the back of my head, he was now screaming into my ears every second that I was awake (and usually while I was asleep too). He screamed things about how I am horrible, and I will never be happy again, and that no one could ever care about me. He pushed these thoughts into my brain like horse parts into a sausage machine.
I was beyond terrified and I had no idea how to fight him. I was destroyed and I felt like a useless empty shell of my former self. The Depressodon told me that I should die, that everyone would be happier if I was dead. And instead of fighting it, I agreed. He told me that I should kill myself, and that the sooner I did it, the sooner I could escape the pain of life.
So the Depressodon took control. This time he continued to scream at me, all day and all night. I didn’t sleep for about 3 weeks. He convinced me that there was nothing left in my life to live for, that there was no reason for me to exist. He told me that the world clearly didn’t want me in it, and that the people in my life clearly didn’t want me to exist either. He told me that I would never ever be happy or smile again. I believed him, every word of it. I had nothing left, no fight in me to resist. I became his puppet. I accepted his words as truth, because I could see no other alternative. I saw no way that my life could ever get better, and no way that I would be happy again. I believed that the only thing I would ever feel is loneliness and sadness.
Being a very logical person, this led me to conclude that killing myself was the best option. If my life was going to stay this way forever and I would be unhappy, there was no reason to live. Without anything to hope for or to look forward to in the future, I was already dead inside. So I decided to make that change to the outside.
Every time that I tried to kill myself, something in me would rise up and cause me to stop. Somewhere deep inside me, a tiny little candle was lit and a little voice screamed into the hurricane that “I want to live!” I focused on that voice and tried to encourage it, but quickly the hurricane of depression drowned it. But then, when I tried again to kill myself, the same little voice screamed as loud as it could. Each time it’s candle grew a little bit brighter.
I am really grateful for that little voice. I would not be writing this if that voice hadn’t stopped me. It kept me going long enough to suffer through a few more weeks and that was enough for things to move forward. Life doesn’t really stop just because you are super-depressed. I guess that’s a good thing.
I continued to be a puppet of the Depressodon. I gave up all will that I had. I fell back into all of my old destructive habits, because I had nothing else.
One day, I stopped long enough to look myself in the mirror. I had no idea who or what I had become. I noticed my eyes had turned to gray, they no longer shone or sparkled, but they lurked behind the shadows of my eyelids as if they were too ashamed to be seen. The dark circles under my eyes gave the impression that I had been punched a few times in both eyes. My skin looked dry and didn’t seem to feel right. I noticed that my face had no trace of happiness on it at all. I used to get compliments from the old ladies at church because “I had such a great big smile!” and my “smile brightened up the whole room”, and I “smiled with my whole face”. I never really understood all that meant, but I did understand that the face I was seeing in the mirror had none of those qualities.
I lost it. I fell/sat down in the bathtub and cried for a really long time. I thought about my life so far, all of the hard times that I have suffered through. All of the friends who have left me. All of the friends that I have left behind. I thought about the time when I went to a homecoming dance with one person, and wound up making out with a different person. I thought about the ‘goth phase’ that I went through in high school, where I wore combat boots and black jeans and tried to get away with a trench coat. I thought about the time when one of my closest friends tried to kill herself and we drove to nowhere and did nothing, but came back and felt better. Then we went and got matching tattoos from a poem that we loved. I thought about my friend in second grade who had a pet ferret and his parents were super-rich, but then he found out I lived in a trailer park and never talked to me again. I thought about the time some friends and I went to Miami to ‘live it up’ and I discovered that I hated the city of Miami and the people that lived there, so I ran off and sat on the beach till everyone else finished being stupid and drunk. I thought about the time when I as 10 and my grandfather gave me a knife he made taught me the rules of how to use it responsibly, and then I thought of how I carried a knife with everyday since then, even in school where you aren’t supposed to for some reason. I thought of my trip to Buenos Aires where my credit card got stolen on the flight, and we went to a zoo because it was in Spanish and wanted to compare it to a zoo in English (conclusion: pretty much the same kind of place).
I thought of all those random memories and how many more that I had deep inside of me. I thought that I could not end my story now. I wanted to keep collecting stories, because stories are all that we have. Stories are the one thing that unites us and teaches us and entertains us. I realized that I wanted to be a part of the story for longer.
I wish I could say that that moment and that experience fixed everything and my life became great again. But, it didn’t. Things never really seem to work out that way. I had realized that I wanted to have my life back, and to not be a slave to the Depressodon. But I had no clue how to even begin to fight him.
I realized that I didn’t really want to die. I realized that I didn’t want to live the life I had. I latched on to that thought and ran with it. I started thinking of ways that I could change my life to be like others. I tried to come up with all the ways I could copy them and maybe then I could have their kind of life.
I guess that I am on the path to getting better. It doesn’t really feel that way most of the time. I have to remind myself to try to smile so that people won’t think I am crazy. I have to actively put on my ‘mask’ to be around other people and it is awful and difficult. But now, there are moments when I feel a little bit like myself again. Moments when I can laugh and smile, and it is not just a pretend laugh. For now, I am holding on to those moments as tightly as I can and hoping that more of them will come.