Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hell and Back Again

Two months ago, I was suicidal. I thought about death every day. I cried every day. I slept long hours to avoid the hell of being awake, of being alive. I could see no purpose for my life, no reason  to hang on to my pitiful, painful existence. I felt that my future was so bleak, that there was no reason for me to continue pretending to be happy, pretending to be alive. I came very close, frighteningly close to fulfilling my wish to end my misery.

Three months ago I went off my medication, meds that I have been on for 21 years. I can not say why for certain, but I wanted to try to see if I could live without them. They are very expensive and I have no health insurance. I thought I could try some natural methods. I took up running again. I dosed myself with omega three supplements, I took up meditation, and did yoga. At first, I felt pretty good, but now I see that I was lulled into believing that I was OK during the time it took for the meds to clear my system. Slowly and steadily I went down, sliding into the black pit that is my mind unmedicated. I told no one. I fell back on my old ways of pretending to be "normal" while inside I was descending into the hell of my malfunctioning brain. 

Eventually, there was no hiding, no way to pretend that I was anything but horrifyingly depressed and more than ready to take that final step. I found myself arguing with my best friend over how worthless my life is, how I just couldn't see the point, and in my mind I made perfect sense, a most logical assessment of my decision. In the end, it was her tears that convinced me to choose to live, it was another friend telling me that he did not know how he would feel if I killed myself, that he would feel like he should've done more, that it was his fault. He said the word selfish, which at first offended me in my righteousness, but made sense when I thought about my nieces and nephews, my sisters and brother, my sister and brother by choice (whom I have mentioned above) and my life partner of whom I callously said "oh, he'd get over it." I allowed him to pick up my prescription. I started taking my pills every morning. I had a friend do some energy work on me, a session where my tears flowed unceasingly. I started taking care of me, allowing myself to feel happy, telling myself I deserved to be so.

 And in time I began to feel better. In the interim, my two friends, my brother and sister by choice called and stopped by, keeping careful tabs on me until I was able to assure them, to look them in the eye and promise them that I would not commit suicide. My partner treated me like a china doll, carefully and gently as my state was so fragile that breakage was a clear possibility.

 Depression is a terrible thing. It effects every corner of one's life, it magnifies the negative aspects of living while minimizing the positive, shrinking the good to a tiny little speck that is impossible to see. It puts one through hell. It puts one's friends though hell, and one's family. It is a totally selfish disease, one that can diminish a life spark like a snuffed match. And we who suffer with this ailment, this mental illness, have such a hard time coming to terms with it, facing the fact that we are mentally ill. If you tell some one you have diabetes, they say "Oh that's too bad, how are you doing?" If you tell someone that you suffer from a mental illness they step back and say "Oh". The stigma is there, even with all of the talk and information out there about depression, the TV commercials, and the magazine articles. Regardless of the fact  that both diabetes and depression are  chemical imbalances in the body it is more acceptable to have diabetes. That needs to change. Maybe in my lifetime it will.