I wrote this blog 7 years ago today:
A workfriend of mine just lost someone to depression. He was an old friend of hers, and he left his four children behind. I was horrified to learn this, both for my workfriend and for the darling girls who now have to grow up without a father.
Unfortunately, I know what depression is like. I know what severe depression is like. And damned if it isn’t harder to scrub out of your soul than 6 layers of hardened tar.
I am not clear on how I survived to be almost 40. I dearly hope to live to a ripe old age and die surrounded by giggling loved ones who wish me well in the afterlife. Who will hold a wake for me, get staggeringly drunk and tell embarrassing and hilarious stories about me.
In order for this to happen, I must let Nature be my killer.
Maybe depression is a genetic disease and there is simply no escape. If that were true, I’d feel a bit of relief. I’d say, “Whoo! Thank the gods, it wasn’t just all in my head!” Of course, I’ve never read anything that suggested it may be genetic. I’m fantasizing.
I became suicidal when I was about 9 years old. Thunderstruck with the notion, I exclaimed to my sister, “Wouldn’t it have been GREAT if I had never been born?!” The idea seemed miraculous and beautiful to me, a total absence of all the problems I had caused everyone in my life. No one would ever have to ignore me, feed me, or listen to my nonsensical babbling. OK, I have to stop remembering now because it’s far too evocative. Reviving those feelings is NOT my goal.
My sister was not prepared to answer me. All she could manage was to joke, that then there would be no one to take out the trash.
I spent the next 17 years wishing myself dead. I have survived at least four conscious attempts on my own life.
When I’m well, the notion of suicide shocks me. When I am well, I know that my friends are near me, I believe in their friendship and have faith in their regard. (No pressure, dear reader. You did not create this monster.) When I am well, living seems like the best possible plan. My daughter, my pets, my house, my job, my friends and family are all vivid, genuine, and precious to me.
How can I describe the other side? When I am not well, I am alien. Cold shoulders and desperation are all that I deserve. Hatred is the only thing that makes sense. Destruction is normalcy. The only purpose to dragging myself through my daily routine is to avoid causing anyone the bother of noticing that anything is different.
Actually, it is far worse than that. But that’s as close as I can get in words, right now.
I want to be well. Completely well, all the time. I want that. I want the amazing scent of fresh, rainwashed air. To take joy in the colors of the sky and earth. I want to believe that my dog really loves me, and isn’t just angling for his next meal. That people who say “hello” aren’t irritated about having to speak to me, but rather find interest in me. I want to live.
I thought I had left depression behind. An incident when I was 26 shocked me out of it for a long time. I started a journey that led to my own religion, and to finding independence from a bad marriage. Then I spent 3 years in therapy that did me a whole lot of good.
But depression comes back, and with unexpected strength. I lose one or two good habits and suddenly my life is no longer sacred in my own eyes.
If there was ever an apt description, vicious circle would be it. It begins… My letter isn’t good enough for anyone to read, I’ll just delete it. leads to… Yeah, if I wasn’t so stupid, I could write a real letter! Ha ha! leads to… I always was too stupid to manage. No wonder people look at me so funny when I try to talk. leads to… Shit, how CAN anyone stand me? leads to… Because I haven’t done one fucking thing in my life that’s been worth shit.
Which leads to death being a relief and a problem-solver, rather than a natural transition to the next life.
Why on Earth am I writing this? Because I CAN write, and because if by any chance my writing this saves ONE SINGLE LIFE, it will be worth the pain of baring my soul. This is your window into the alien’s world. If you know someone who is depressed, think back on this and understand. If someone is doing something irritating just to get attention, for the love of all that is holy, pay them some attention. It could be their last attempt to make contact.