letter from a survivor
Let me preface this by saying I'm doing great now. I have a family and a life I thought I never would, and I have the best support system anyone can ask for. So I don't need a bunch of phone calls and messages asking if I'm okay. Because I'm doing pretty f***ing great.
I have been struggling with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. I didn't know that's what it was, but it shaped my actions and attitude on a near daily basis. To the point that I was so full of anxiety about school that I would be legitimately nauseous just about every day. I missed a lot of high school as a result. This affected me later as I bounced from job to job trying to find work that I could stomach.
Depression is both separate and intertwined with anxiety. Depression is different for everyone. For me, it was either indifference, anger, or when I'd have a strong positive emotion, like falling in love, I'd latch onto it for dear life. And when that feeling faded in any amount, I would leave the relationship, usually pretty abruptly. Then naturally I'd turn around and try to fix things. Thankfully, most of you have been pretty forgiving.
So I struggle with this for 15+ years. I thought, surely I can outthink this. Surely my reasoning is sound, and I'm not crazy, and everyone deals with this. So I start entertaining thoughts. Maybe if I just play it out in my head. That will satisfy the thought process. Works for a while, but not long. Then it becomes almost comforting. Like I know no matter how bad things get, I have a way out. I start to think of that thought as an old friend.
Job to job, relationship to relationship, nothing improves. Just gets darker and darker.
So I've reached the point of daily nausea with a call center job. I've called out so much they put me on day shift knowing I'll hate it and quit. I get an offer for a credit card and follow up on it. $5000 limit.
Well that was my cue. Everything snapped into place. I quit my job. Feigned interest in job hunting for about a week. Then I just sat around in my apartment, using the credit card for food and rent, for however long until the money ran out.
As it happened, it ran out at the end of March. I wrote letters to my mom, my dad, and J. I wrote a note for the police with what to expect. I burned my checks and credit cards. I watched the last episode of The Walking Dead. I give these details because I want you to understand I had thoroughly planned all this months before and was merely waiting on the money to run dry.
I tried to kill myself.
I remember feeling very matter of fact. Like this was totally a logical conclusion and my reasoning was sound.
Won't go into details, but roughly half an hour later, I'm still breathing. I'd done all the damage I was willing to, and I was still around. I wish I could say I had some grand epiphany or I realized the error of my ways, but I simply couldn't do the necessary damage.
I got out of bed, wrapped myself in a few t-shirts and drove myself to the hospital at about 1 a.m.
The hospital staff is very kind and not judgmental, though a bit sad for me. One nurse whose name I never got brought me a Snickers, and it was the best f***ing Snickers ever.
The surgeon patches me up to the tune of about 80 staples and a few stitches.
I spent the next few days in the psych ward with some other similar folks doing group therapy and taking some very powerful medication.
I spend the next few months with my mom, recuperating and trying to figure out where the f*** you go from here. Coming to terms with actually admitting my problems. Coming to terms with knowing I'll be on a mood-altering medication, likely for the rest of my life.
So there it is. Thanks largely to failing at human anatomy, I'm still alive. I'm better for having gone through it. I have a better understanding of myself and others with mental illness. People are scared to talk about it. I was. But maybe if we talked about it more, people wouldn't be idiots like me who thought they were above it or smarter than it.
It doesn't mean you've failed or that you're a bad person. It just means that in the millions of chemical transactions that go on in the body to make us human, a few were a little bit off.
I'm still here, and better for it as a result of accepting the problem and realizing I didn't cause it. I have literal scars I see everyday that show me what happens when you try to carry it alone.