“What about suicidality?” the Doctor said. “Have you ever been suicidal.” In mental health care this becomes a familiar question. The Doctor’s next words shook me. His words rattled around my head like marbles in a tin can. “With your diagnosis you will feel that way at least a couple more times in your lifetime.” It was so matter-of-fact. So decisive. He sounded so sure of himself.
We aren’t supposed to talk about suicide. It is the deepest of the dark secrets. To admit that you are so lost and feel so terrible about yourself that you view suicide as a mercy killing meant to spare relatives and loved ones the pain of having to put up with you, is horrifying. Survivors of the dance of suicide have a huge landscape of emotional scorched earth to try and grow a life out of.
Depression can be a lonely journey in the dark, on a continuum without reward or motivation to move forward. In day to day life there are no levels, achievements, mile markers or gold stars on your homework at the end of your day. You just get up every day and hope you can make it until the end of the day. You wake up wondering how you are going to get through an entire day when just getting out of bed seems both unwise and unsatisfactory.
On those days days I feel so fragile. Like if one thing goes wrong, even a little thing like a stray hair or scuff on my shoe, I might shatter or explode and end up a deep dark depression hole. My depression hole feels so deep that when sitting inside,the light from the opening far above is barely a pin hole. The light from the surface always spends its currency in the first few feet, leaving not nearly enough light to reach to the bottom, so its totally black. In that darkness there are three lies that whisper quietly but insistently to the wounded heart. The lies are, “They will be better off without me”, “Things are never going to change” and “I’m going to feel like this forever.”
The road to suicide is paved with those lies. In every suicide attempt or suicidal ideation (making a plan for suicide) one of these questions is screaming in the darkness.
I’ve been there. It’s surreal. Terrifying. Disconcerting. Depression is a blinder against all hope. It blocks out all light and confuses the senses. You feel the confusion of weightlessness, nothingness and at the same time feel as if your heart weighs a thousand pounds. It is to feel the full responsibility of the world tied to you like a ticking bomb and know you are powerless to escape it. All the failures and faults of your life are laid out before you and the verdict is in. You mean nothing. You are nothing and will not be missed. You have failed at what every other person you know has accomplished; just being a basic good human. The sick brain warps what is the ultimate selfish act into one of sacrifice and surrender. In the darkness there are no acceptable answers. No choice is good.
For someone with experience and knowledge to tell me that I will be there again is jolting. To have professionals checking up on my mental state, adjudicating my “fitness” can be embarrassing. But I go to appointments, answer questions and have accountability people. In the face of sadness or distress I don’t despair because I choose too hang on to Life at every turn, no matter how difficult or useless it seems.
I’m lucky that I can see hope around the corner most days. I’m just afraid of myself on days I can’t see hope on the horizon.