In my experience, there is nothing more defeating than the moment that you realize that all hope is gone and nothing seems quite worth it anymore.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and this is an area that strikes a personal chord with me since depression has been my nearly life-long battle.
So, yes, I have made it through my share of cases of bad depression. Yes, I still get depressed. Yes, I’ve been suicidal. Yes, I’m glad to be alive today.
No, I’m not proud or happy to be alive everyday.
Shit got real kinda quick, eh?
I’ve spent the last 4+ years in recovery from an epic meltdown following my first ‘real heartbreak’ and my first corporate layoff. When shit hit the fan, I tried to hang on, but one day I just stopped caring about myself and did everything I could to sabotage anything good in my life because deep down, I didn’t feel I deserved it.
I eventually sought help. I fought. I won that battle. I moved on.
I won’t sit here and spit some positive bullshit about how I overcame extreme depression over 4 years ago and that life has been a grand experience ever since.
It hasn’t been.
In fact, this year has been the absolute most difficult year I have ever experienced. I took a nose dive right back to that dark place following the recent death of my grandmother, the ending of a few of my closest friendships and relationships, my dad moving away, and an intense professional burnout that left me working 90+ hours a week. Then there’s the insomnia.
OMG LIFE, WTF.
The good news is that I’m dealing with everything the best that I am able. I get out of bed every single day. I go to work. I come home. I pay my bills. I go to bed. In between I maintain healthy relationships. Everything is okay. Sometimes.
Sometimes I’m feeling happy.
Sometimes I am not feeling happy. I’ve overcome depression, but I still fight a daily battle with it.
Days seem long. Nights seem longer. I get angry. I get scared. I need to spend time alone. I wonder if it’s ever going to end. But somehow, when I am at the end of my rope, just when I’m about to stay in bed all day and cry, just when giving up seems like a possibility, just when it seems hopeless is when out of nowhere, an authentically good day comes and reminds me how good it feels to feel…well, good.
The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last 10 years as I’ve gone from doctor to therapist to pharmacist to group counseling is that everyone suffers differently and struggle looks different on everyone. Even the happiest, cheeriest person can have buried scars and hidden demons. While some wear the feelings on their sleeves, I wear mine under layers upon layers of tough-exterior fabric that keeps people from knowing my vulnerabilities and insecurities. Just because you can’t see the pain on someone’s face doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.
Any sort of mental condition or when someone is emotionally unwell, it is often looked at as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, people who have made it through depression and/or wake up and choose to fight the storm rather than let it overtake them are some of the strongest people in existence. I know first hand how difficult it is to come out from the safety of your bed and face the harsh truth that ‘this is your life’. It’s nearly fucking impossible to put one foot in front of the other some days. It’s hard, but I do it. You do it. We do it.
There’s no cure-all to depression or wanting to end the pain. I can’t tell you how to mend your broken heart. I can’t tell you where to find $5,000 to pay your back mortgage. I can’t tell you how to change your life. I don’t even know how to explain how I did it other than that it takes radical, blind, ridiculously crazy hope. Hoping against all odds that someday, somehow, someway, things will change, and you’ll just feel okay again, and patiently waiting for that one day and knowing that more good days will follow it.
If you’re like me, and you’re a seeing is believing kind of person, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every morning, I write the word “HOPE;” on a piece of paper. I carry it with me in my pocket. Or in my purse. Or in my bra. True Story.
The “;” at the end of the HOPE; is not a typo The semi-colon is what I use to define a moment where it would make sense to end it, (.) but I choose to keep going (,). A period is an ending. A comma shows a continuum.
Some days I look at this paper about 40 times. Others I forget it’s there and it goes through my washing machine and pisses me off because it gets all over all of my dark clothes. But knowing that the HOPE; is there, as a physical thing, makes it a little easier to believe in- and when life sucks as bad as it does sometimes, having something to believe in is incredible.
I’m still here. And I’m glad you are too.