A few months ago I tried to die. Commit suicide. Self-murder. Call it what you will.
I wasn’t sure whether to share this detail about myself here. Only 2 people in my life know this about me. But, hard as it is to talk about, it’s a pretty major part of who I am right now. And open honest dialogue about difficult issues only serves to take away their power. To make the monster small.
And depression is a complicated beast, with complicated roots. It manifests and masquerades in many different ways for as many different people. I only know my own story. A combination of a difficult childhood and my failure as an adult to live a life that I actually enjoy and respect are what led me to the end of my rope. The rope, by the way, had a little too much give – stretching just enough for my toes to touch the floor; just enough for some air to reach my lungs. So here I still am. While my actions that day were made spontaneously out of deep despair, I had very consciously been trying to deal with the anxiety and depression, and trying to fight the suicidal urge, for about 2 years.
Up till that point though I was trying to do it all from under the duvet.
Two years ago all I knew was that I had to take some time off and hide for a while, I could not face many more days of a life that I had just fallen into. I was confused about who I was, let alone how to be who I was. I had begun to feel like a dead weight, utterly disconnected from the life around me. I felt this way because I had spent my life running from the past and could not connect to anything else until I connected with it. So I quit my job as soon as I could.
I went to the doctor to find out my options. I researched the arse out every bad aspect of my dysfunctional upbringing. I saturated my mind with mental health theories – the old school, the new, the mainstream, the alternative and the very alternative. I discovered blogs and started reading other people’s stories. Some were sincere, some bold, some angry, some hopeless, and some hilarious. I had acknowledged that there were very real problems in my life that I had to address.
People will tell you that acknowledgment is the hardest part… Bollocks.
The hardest part came after. It came when I realised it was all on me. No amount of acceptance, or educating myself, no amount of kind and encouraging words from others could change my reality. Though these are all very good and very necessary things, it is ultimately only me who can carve out a life that I feel is worth living.
I knew this… but did nothing about it. And that is what led me to the end of my rope.
So, the last few months have been my gradual coming out from under the duvet. Idealogically I sort of claim to be an anarchist, so I’ve started reading anarchist literature. I hate that I’m dependent on money, so I’ve started learning ways to use less of it on crap I don’t need, saving it for the stuff I really want. I hate how wasteful I am and that modern life doesn’t require me to do anything with my hands, so I’ve started volunteering at a local wood recycling place. I hate that my muscles are weak and untrained, so I’ve started trying out a bunch of martial arts and exercise classes. I hate that I have nothing creative to show for my 30 years, so I’ve enrolled on an art course (first class last week).
Find the thing that scares you and do it. Turn the thing you hate into passion for its alternative. Don’t just know the words and the mantras. Actually do it.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy. I’d even be lying if I said I enjoyed it. The classes, the course, the volunteering, they all fill me with dread. I have a terrible night’s sleep the night before. I wake up in a shitty mood. The closer it comes time to leave the house the more panicky, upset and nauseous I feel. And once I’m there it’s even worse. The flourescent lights scorch my eyes, searing my brain. My heart beats so hard and fast and loud I swear it’s moving the table. Every cell in my body screams at me not to be there. But I am there. And I know it will be like this for a while. My body is reacting to things that happened in the past, and not to anything that is happening now. It does get incrementally better – but you have to walk through the pain, not run away from it. Or sit with it under the duvet.
‘You need to reach out into the darkness before the darkness reaches you’ ~Dizraeli Reach Out