Content warning: discussions of depression and suicide
I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this blog. The number of people who have approached me to tell me that they enjoy reading my work is higher than I could have fathomed when I started this, and I am so grateful.
I’ve also had a number of people ask me why I haven’t written anything lately. I’ve laughed, I’ve used the, “Oh, school is so busy,” excuse. The “I just haven’t had time to write,” excuse. Truth is, I had all the time in the world. I just chose to spend it in my own head.
I wanted to share something that I wrote back in November. I was hesitant to share it back then; I wasn’t ready. I was actually absolutely terrified. But I want to share this, now.
The Tim Hortons’ cashier has to call me three times before she manages to pull me out of the trance the low buzz emanating from the UCC has put me in. I take a second to gather my bearings, smile at her, and apologize. I tell her it’s just “one of those days.” She nods in understanding, gets me my drink, and calls the next person in line.
It truly is one of those days. It is the kind of day that consists of skipping breakfast for no particular reason, making it to campus but still missing class, forgetting about lunch until I take the first sip of my hot chocolate. It is the first thing my stomach has the privilege of digesting since I rolled out of bed. One of those days, that has become a daily occurrence, a habit that inched its way towards becoming a routine, reaching its destination when I hadn’t been paying attention.
Truth is, I know how I got here. I can lay out the events that led me to this point on a timeline. I can write essays on the significance of every single moment that led me to this place. It doesn’t matter, though. My hull was cracked from the very beginning, it was only a matter of time before I went under.
That’s what depression does. It starts off as a sinking feeling, one that comes and goes in waves, until one day, it decides it doesn’t want to leave. It anchors itself to your ribcage. You don’t particularly enjoy the things you used to enjoy, anymore. You begin to wonder why you used to enjoy them in the first place. Then, the activities you used to love serve as a constant reminder that you’re just a hollow shell of your past self, floating through life with minimal effort.
I love writing. I want to do well in school, ace the LSATS, and get a high enough GPA to make law school. That’s the goal. That’s the dream. You wouldn’t know it, though, not with the monotonous tone I find myself employing when I say it out loud.
It sounds rehearsed because it is. It is the response I have memorized so people will stop asking once I have answered. So people will not worry about me. Because planning for the future is a good sign. It shows that I want to stay alive.
The thing about being depressed from a young age, is that you aren’t quite certain you’ll make it to your next birthday, let alone 18. Adulthood feels about as real to you as the moon does; it exists, many people have gotten there, but it’s preposterous to think that you will too.
Before you know it, you’re 4 weeks away from being 19, sitting in Centre Spot, mindlessly ripping pieces off of your cup sleeve, not knowing what to do next, because you didn’t think you’d make it this far. If you’re honest with yourself, there’s still a part of you that believes you’re not going to make it much farther. Trust me, it’s incredibly hard planning for a future you aren’t entirely sure you’re going to have.
You’re not suicidal. You’re not a danger to yourself, or others. You’ve just lost the will to stay alive for yourself. You’re moving forward simply because life is pulling you with it.
You keep moving forward, though. You reassure yourself that you are going to achieve your goals. You fail to remember why you made them; you struggle to recollect why these things were so important to you. There is no internal drive, only a desire to avoid disappointing your loved ones. Every morning, you get up and go through the motions. You just keep swimming. I wish I could tell you that there’s a happy ending to this.
I wish I could say that I’ve found the one thing that makes me glad to be alive. I haven’t, yet. I’m holding onto this shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ll fall in love with my passions all over again. I remember the feeling. I miss it.
I’ve heard that it’s easy to lose yourself in your passions. I can safely say that it is unfathomably easy to lose yourself without them.
I will find myself again. I will get there eventually.
But until then? I work on making it to the next day. I work on remembering to eat breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. I try to do things that used to make me happy. They will make me happy again. I have to believe that; there is no choice in the matter. I make people smile. I make people laugh. I thank people for caring about me. I tell people I love them, and mean it.
It may not seem like much, but I’m getting there. It’s simply one of those days. There’s a chance tomorrow will be better. And I am going to let that be enough.
I submitted this anonymously to The Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health Collection of Stories (see links below). I wanted people to read it; I wanted people to know what it’s like to live with this illness. Because that’s what it is. A mental illness. It’s all in my head, but it traps me there. Keeps me isolated from the outside world. I am around everybody else, but I am caged from participating, enjoying, living. That’s what it feels like.
But I then realized, as someone with depression, who has been able to find her way to taking that first step towards recovery, I wanted to say, “Hey. I wanted to kill myself almost every day for four months, and I don’t anymore. It’s not permanent.” Everyone needs to find their own way back to a healthy space, I think. And they just need love and support until they do, be it in the form of family, friends, or professional help.
I’m okay. I’m recovering. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I can be happy. I feel like I want to live for me, instead of just going through the motions. And I can write again. I will be writing. I feel like myself again. It’s taken a lot to get here, and I’ll be writing about it.
I don’t think being publicly open about mental illness is the only way to be strong. For some people, getting up, doing the dishes, and taking a shower is a sign of strength. For others, it’s making it to the next day. And that’s okay.
I want to end this off by saying, please don’t hesitate to message me about anything. I’m here for each and every person who needs a little support right now, who needs to be loved a little louder.
You can find out more about The Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health here, you can read other testimonials here, and you can submit your own here — I highly recommend that you do. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It just has to be honest. Whether you choose to submit anonymously or not, I promise you, if you make one person feel a little less alone, you will have done enough.