Trigger warning: this post is about experiencing depression, suicide, and suicidal thoughts.
I remember when the first commercials came out that started saying “Depression Hurts.” No one had ever talked to me about how depression is so much more than a mental problem; I knew it had physical ramifications, but I had no idea how many and I had never thought there could be physical side affects of depression.
My journey with depression started at the age of 10. It was complicated and probably deserves an explanation on its own at some point, but it got the point where I was so sure my life wasn’t worth living that I was suicidal. I don’t know how many trips to the kitchen I took to pull out the largest butcher’s knife and hold it to my chest. I tried to feel my ribs with my fingers – I wanted to make sure the blade went through and didn’t get blocked by my ribcage. Also, where was my heart, approximately? I wanted to make sure I got it rather than suffer longer as I bled out.
I could never quite figure these two things out in the time I had alone in our small home, and I was too scared to miss. I didn’t want a second chance. I didn’t want to fail. I never got to a full attempt. Several times I stood there, trying to think through how I would have to will to push all the way in I needed to; I was scared I would stop when it started to hurt and I’d have to explain myself. I was never brave enough to do it; my cowardice saved me.
Instead, I battled on my own with no words to share how I was hurting inside. I cried myself to sleep for a good five or six months. I never told anyone how close I was to ending things. Somehow, things got better. I don’t remember what happened but life turned a corner and I found myself happy again.
Until four years passed and the same trigger happened again. In between, I had been happy. I found purpose in friends, ambition, and religion. I had started to like boys, got my period, and started thinking about when and who my first date would be.
This time I knew I couldn’t actually kill myself – I was still a coward. But also, I couldn’t leave my younger sister behind. She needed me; little did I realize how much I needed her. Ultimately, she and my new found faith saved me. I still cried when no one could hear me. I took a lot of baths and showers and cried with the water running so no one could hear me. I mastered stifling my feelings and emotions, making my face unreadable, expressionless. No one ever asked me how I was doing. When I gained a significant amount of weight in a few months, no one batted an eye at it.
There was an ironic moment when my mom asked me to look up depression symptoms on the internet for her. As I read them aloud, I was desperate and scared she had discovered my suffering. Was it worse to be silent and alone in depression, or be forced to deal with it? I wasn’t sure. At the end of the list of symptoms, I waited. She said, “Oh, I think I’m depressed. I’ve been feeling sad and a couple of those things apply to me.” And then she walked away. I was suffering nearly every single symptom and was devastated she couldn’t see it.
I prayed for death. In my young Christian faith I thought suicide was unforgivable as it told God you thought you were worthless; unforgiven actions meant hell. But was it wrong to pray for death? If I didn’t do the action, was it wrong to ask God to do it for me? I prayed every day for him to kill me.
This time, life didn’t magically get better. I just endured life until I went to college two years later. I didn’t have time to deal with things in college. Four years later I was a graduate and married and too poor to face my demons. A few years passed and I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety attacks. Two years of therapy once a week helped. A lot.
But it didn’t cure me of what I now consider to be a lifelong battle. I still struggle off and on. Normally it hits me hard for a few days and then goes away. Its like the flu; as long as I survive, I’m sure to make it another year. Except this year I’ve had the flu nearly every month and its getting harder to battle it away.
My fiance keeps telling me to go to my doctor for anti-depressants; I’ve never been on them and I’m not sure I want to. The stubborn side of me keeps saying that if I try hard enough, it will go away. Won’t it?
It’s so hard to fight it when you’re fighting yourself. My depression keeps me awake at night. It causes tense muscles which hurt. I grind my teeth I need to wear a bite guard at night. I struggle to keep my appearance nice for work; I give up completely at home. I feel like a failure all the time. I hear my parent’s criticisms in my head but in my own voice, saying it to myself. I don’t do things like fetch a warm blanket, get a glass of water when I’m thirsty, or paint my nails — because all I can think is I don’t deserve it.
And every stress in the world piles on my head. A bad week at work and I’m a blink away from crying at any moment. I’ve lost sight of all the good in my life, all the progress I’ve made, all my strengths. I can’t see them past the bleak disappointment in the forefront of my mind. I don’t know how to stop and I’m tired of fighting alone.
Depression hurts – it fucking sucks. As much as some part of the logical side of my brain that is left can tell me, these feelings are not who I am. But at this moment I’m so prone to negativity that I might as well be a werewolf fighting the full moon.
I’ll keep fighting.