As part of Suicide Prevention Month, and to raise awareness, the following post recounts my personal experience with major depressive disorder. There will be graphic descriptions of suicidal ideation.
Well, I suppose you’re not really a kid, and haven’t been for a long while. Doesn’t really feel that way at the minute, though, does it? Doesn’t really feel like being a grownup. It’s okay. I know.
I know how often you’ve been told that this is normal. That everyone feels this way sometimes. That you’re just realising scary truths about the world, and that you just have to sort of get used to it. The people telling you this are wrong. The truth is most people never experience what you’re experiencing right now. Some do. Many do. But most? No. It is not normal. It is not normal for you to struggle this much.
Kiddo, I am here to tell you that you are ill. Your brain is lying to you. Kiddo, if it was normal for humans to feel this way, there wouldn’t be any humans anymore.
You’re going to have to do something difficult. You have to tell Mum.
It will be messy. You’ll cry in front of her. Sorry. Can’t be helped. She’ll ask if you’re suicidal and you’ll say no, and it will feel like an almost-lie.
I know you don’t like to claim big words for yourself. You think big words are reserved for people who have it really bad, but here’s the thing. Suicidal isn’t just having a plan. It isn’t just standing at the edge of the cliff, or holding the bottle of pills. Suicidal is thinking about the end of your life every hour of every day and wondering whether going on living would just mean you have more to lose when the time comes. Suicidal is sitting on the bathroom floor and kind of wanting to stay there forever. Suicidal is abstract thoughts of an empty void. Kiddo, look at me. It’s time for the big word.
Telling Mum won’t fix everything, obviously. In fact, it won’t fix anything just yet. It’s step one. Step one leads to step two, and that’s going to the wrong psychiatrist. That won’t be pleasant either, but it will lead to step three. The right psychiatrist. I’m sorry, kiddo, but you’ll hate every second of that too. Shit situation is shitty. Step four is when you get the medication you need. I promise.
When the meds start working, you will go through a phase where you will be completely unable to think of the future. It will be shrouded in fear, and you will feel a very intense need to run from any long-term plans. It’s okay. You are allowed to put up that wall while you recover. That wall is a scab. It’ll fall off naturally when it’s ready. No need to scratch at it.
In the meantime, don’t worry about thinking ahead. Just be. Go to your friend’s apartment. Play that card game with her. This will be your very first happy memory since the depression hit. Yes. It’s depression. I know that’s another big word. You can use it. It’s yours.
I know you’re worried that you’ve lost yourself forever, and you’re not entirely wrong. You will never be quite the same person again. That’s okay, though, because kiddo, trust me, you hadn’t really found yourself anyway.
In the coming years, you will find yourself in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine. You’ll change quite a bit, for the better. You’ll finish your first book, publish it, and start working on the next. You’ll also meet someone. I know, I couldn’t believe it either, but you will. You’ll fall in love. The joy you’ll feel when he looks at you, when he touches you, will make everything you’ve felt before pale in comparison. You’ll marry him.
Kiddo, I am on my way. I just need you to wait for me.