Trigger warning: suicide
Disclaimer: I’m fine. For my family and friends reading this, I’ve been dealing with this for a long time and I’m in no danger.
Yesterday was depressing. Especially over on Tumblr, it was just a pit of misery and despair. In addition to the usual onslaught of misogyny and systematic oppression, in Ferguson Michael Brown was murdered by police, Christy Mack was beaten nearly to death by her ex-boyfriend (who has yet to be apprehended), and Robin Williams killed himself.
The news of Robin Williams surfaced about midday. The outpouring of detached sadness was expected, as it is with any celebrity death. Then I noticed that there was something else happening: a conversation about depression and suicide was surfacing. A few of my friends on Facebook talked about their own depression, anxiety, and bi-polar struggles. There were several posts about how even those that make us laugh, that say they’re okay, can be incredibly lonely and hurting inside. This post about why funny people are disproportionately more likely to kill themselves is incredibly stirring. It contains truth.
After processing all of this information since yesterday, I’ve decided that I want to put my story out there, as just one more illustration.
I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety since adolescence. Right now I’m medicated for my anxiety and that’s really seemed to help my depression.
I’ve been described as annoyingly optimistic. I try to focus on the positive and remain hopeful. I try to help others find happiness and to make the world better for the people around me.
Despite the lessened depression and jovial demeanor, I am plagued by suicidal thoughts many days. Sometimes I’ll go three or four days without any thoughts of killing myself, but at least once a week–and frequently more often–those thoughts sneak to the front of my mind.
It can happen even when I’m having a great day, actually. If I’m driving and my mind is wandering, it’ll settle into the well-worn path of how I could kill myself, why I should, and that that’s what everyone would prefer. That’s where my mind will be for a moment or two before I really realize it. I’ve gotten pretty good at reminding myself that I don’t want to die, and clearing the thoughts from my mind.
They come without warning, though, and that’s what’s most disconcerting. This is one of the issues that led me to start seeing a counselor.
So, when I’m having a good day, I can shake the thoughts away. When I’m not, though, well, there’s a certain comfort to them. I’m a planner. It is supremely satisfying to me to think about picking a date and deciding that that’s the day I go out. I can get all of my ducks in a row and leave on my own terms. I think that’s the most seductive part: the control it offers. When I’m hurting, when everything seems out of control, I have the button the exerts ultimate control.
I think about where my mind is at when killing myself seems comforting. It is in moments of supreme loneliness. It is in moments of hopelessness, when I am overwhelmed with the fear of disappointing everyone.
Yet, I persist. It helps to have long-term goals. It helps to have people that I can reach out to who will tell me they love me, and that I don’t have to earn that, thus failing won’t cause them to revoke their love. I’m lucky. Not everyone has those things.
The lesson here is that a person’s outward composure is no indication of their inner peace or turmoil. So, tell the people in your life that you love them, that you value them. I don’t think we do that enough. Also, if you’re in crisis or you are worried about someone else, here are a couple of resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
IMAlive live online support network
One of my favorite Watsky songs captures it: