I’ve had a long history with depression. Just under a year ago I was hospitalized because I was ready to commit suicide. I would like to share some of my journey with you.
As a child, I never thought of suicide but I often thought of death. I wondered what would happen if I were to silently drown in a lake and drift downstream, never to be seen again. It would probably be fine. Sure, there would be an initial grieving period…that was inevitable really. No soul can escape our earth without being subject to some amount of grief. But once everyone had a chance to move on, return to work, and focus their attention back on chicken dinners and neighbourhood gossip, things would be probably fine. No one has the time to grieve every day. There is too much to be done.
I would lay in bed and think of how demonstrably fine the world would be without me. No one truly needed me around. The feelings felt at my departure would be simply surface level and would evaporate in good time. I cried almost every night for years.
I put some apt songs to break up the post. Ignore them if you wish. They’re hella mopey.
I tried to balance this out by thinking about how I would feel if other people died. I knew that if my parents were killed in a horrible car accident that my grief would not be but a passing thing. It would stay with me forever. I would go through the practicalities of my life after such an event: Calling friends to tell them the news, going to live with my aunt, adjusting to a new school and a new neighbourhood. There would certainly be a lot of things to do, but the cloud of grief and sadness would still hang over me for the remainder of my life. I tried to see it the same way if I were to experience an untimely death, but I just couldn’t. My mark on the earth would be minor at best and would not produce the same effect (I of course now realize that this is far from the case).
Besides, I was far too practical for something like suicide. It would require research and preparation and I could barely muster the motivation to get out of bed. My apathy largely won out. Plus my family would feel so guilty and I couldn’t put them through that. No, I would have to hope for some freak accident.
I continued on through life. Some days were better than others, as were some weeks and some months. I mainly just tried to ignore life’s responsibilities and escape through distractions like internet forums and video games.
I transitioned into adulthood but still found all of life to be a struggle. Last Februrary I had finally had enough. I just couldn’t keep things going any longer. On the verge of following through with ending my life, I managed a 3:00 am phone call to my parents who came to get me and took me the psych ward.
Being hospitalized was oddly pleasant. Sure, I still felt incredibly lost and depressed but that was nothing new. But I was being cared for. I had nurses checking up on me, bad hospital food waiting for me three times a day, and no real expectations to put upon myself. There was nothing I should have been doing, because there was nothing to do. I journaled, I read, I watched The Loveboat (There was a big Loveboat fan who had been in the ward for some time, and I wasn’t about to mess up his routine by making a case for why we should change the channel to The Price Is Right). Friends and family came to visit and awkwardly asked “Hey, how’s going?” The absurdity of it was obvious, and it was hard not to see the humour in it. I was in the ward where we had to colour with dull pencil crayons because we couldn’t be trusted with sharpeners. Of course I wasn’t doing well. What else is there to say? But they were there for me. They loved me. All of them.
I eventually left the hospital and moved back to Mission to stay with my parents for a bit. I did a bunch of therapy, journaled and meditated every day, and worked really hard at being better. There was nothing else to do. I had hit my lowest point and my only options were to get better or give up. I learned a lot about myself and needed to reach that breaking point before I could get to the point where I was able to turn things around.
There’s a moment there when you’re under a doctor’s care…
And now? I’m okay, I guess. Worlds better than I was a year ago, but worse than I was three months ago. I’ve accomplished a lot but still haven’t managed to keep a job for more than a few months at a time. It’s not a straight line to recovery and some days are still rough, but most are a lot better. I’m nowhere even close to committing any sort of self-harm (and can’t imagine that changing), but everyone still worries. Even though calling me happy would be a stretch, my misery isn’t all consuming in the way it once was. I have hope. Quite a bit of it, actually.
In many ways, I’m glad that I’m going through all of this now. It’s given me a chance to figure things out and learn how to cope with life. If I had just remained moderately shitty then the rest of my life would have probably be pretty shitty too. It’s much better to be going through this while I’m still young and become better equipped for the life I have ahead of me. Even though things still move up and down, there is a general trend towards improvement.
So, my advice for anyone who struggling is that when you feel ready to give up, it may actually be your chance to finally get better. It wont be easy and you’ll still have good days and bad days, you may always, but you can find ways to bring your average day to what might have been a good day before. If you find yourself falling again, you will at least be in familiar territory and can use what you’ve learned to get back up a little faster each time. The change might be small, but it’s still a change. Your all consuming misery will become just everyday unhappiness and then some sparkles of happiness might begin to work themselves in, too. Get help as soon as you’re able to do it. There are lots of things you can do and different approaches to getting better. Just because one or two or three didn’t work for doesn’t mean none of them will.
Be there for your loved ones. Take their concerns and struggles seriously and if you are in a place where you can help them make sure you do it. Don’t shun the topic of suicide and take your friends problems seriously rather than downplaying or denying them. If you’re not in a place where you’re able to do that, get someone who can. Just do your very best.
If any of you are going for a rough time and want someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call me or email me or message me or knock on my front door in the middle of the night. Likewise if you have a friend who you’re worried about. Ask me whatever questions you like: I’d love to share or just sit and listen. I can point you to resources that have helped me (I have a great mood disorder support group for 19-29 year olds every Monday!) or just help you find your footing. I’m 100% okay with you sharing this post or anything in it with anyone in your life.
Thanks so much to everyone who has been there for me in my tough times. I couldn’t have possibly gotten to where I am today without your help. I’m so lucky to have such loving and supportive friends and family.
Ending on a hopeful note! I like SOME positive songs.
Oh, and call your parents and tell them that you love them. They’re probably worried sick about you.
The title of this post is taken from an essay by Canadian writer Nelly Acran (featured in her posthumous book “Burqa of Skin”). It’s about how we shun and shame suicide and simply like to move it out of our sight, as exemplified by blocks put up to keep people from jumping off the Saint-Laurent Bridge: They’ll just go somewhere else but since we can’t see it we gain peace of mind. It’s not like people are falling off by accident. My original title was “Suicidal Anniversary” but that seemed a little dark and glib: Even for me.