TW: this post deals with depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm, in very open terms.
There is a document on my computer and my phone. I’ve kept it going for just about a year now, and mostly kept it a secret, though sometimes bits and pieces of my thoughts, fragmented as they’ve been, have made it into this blog. I mentioned it in a reflection post from February 20, “One Day at a Time,” Anniversaries, & Hopes Unexpected, and since then I’ve kept up writing in it, adding to the chronicles of my sorrow.
I started the document nearly exactly one year ago, according to the fact that I’ve dated and time-stamped each entry, and the first one came on Aug. 19, 2018, at 4:30 in the morning. I actually remember the moment so clearly.
It was my break at work. I had, for once, left the house to go for a walk. It’s the kind of thing the guys I worked with did often, and I did almost never. But that day — that day I was not okay. I walked down Grand Street, winding through the Lower East Side, and wound up sitting on the ground outside a park.
I pulled up the Notes app on my phone and wrote I wish I was dead
Later that night, right before my next shift started, I wrote I wish it would go away
And so it went. And so it goes. The notes have gotten longer over the year; I’ve added punctuation. Sometimes, I’ve gone as long as a month without adding to it; others, I’ve barely made it 12 hours.
This year has been, ultimately, one never-ending episode.
That’s what they’re called, in my mind and maybe others’, these moments of depression that mar the rest of my life. Usually they last a few days; once or twice in the past they’ve lasted a month or more. But this one? This one has gone on for nearly a year now.
It’s been its own rollercoaster of an experience.
I have been so soaringly happy at times, feeling as though I were living on a cloud, reveling in the unreality of this reality I inhabit. Simultaneously, I have been devastatingly not-okay. I have sunk as low as ever before, my thoughts turning knife-like inward and slicing away my defenses. I have stopped cutting (and started again). I have gone ages without being suicidal (and then, been suicidal again). I have survived and come oh-so-close to not surviving
I researched long-term mental health care facilities. I have spent months at a time praying I would make it to the end of my shift so I could check into short-term emergency care. Once, in June, I almost called a cab to take me to the hospital. I was inches away from doing it, and then I … didn’t.
Over the past year, I've run the gamut of suicidal fantasies, imagining myself doing everything from leaping off a bridge to bleeding out to swallowing fistfuls of pills and letting myself get taken to Death's door...none of these are new.
It's the intensity, the density, the loneliness of it all, that's what's new. Such a long stretch of not-okay times. Packed so closely together, while I felt absolutely alone.
And meanwhile, I’ve tracked it all.
There are some who might say that tracking it makes it worse. After all, doesn’t reading back over it just remind me of those emotions?
Maybe. But it’s not like I would forget it anyway. I can’t. It’s physically impossible to not remember, and this way — this way I can track trends. And realize, something is wrong.
Of course, something is always wrong: I have a mental illness. But this time? This time, something is different-wrong. Something is longer-wrong. Something is deeply, unsettlingly wrong.
And here’s the thing: things are also so very, very good. I am disgustingly happy; I’m just also recklessly depressed. People keep telling me how I look great, how it seems things are good.
And they are.
I just…am in agony inside, and wish it would go away, and don’t know how to make that be. And if I can’t fix it, I can at least share it and say: help me. Share good things with me. Things that make you smile, make you laugh, make you cry but in a good way. Things that give you hope. Things you like. Quirks that set you apart. (Is it too much to ask you to say things you like about me? I would like to know. I would like to believe they exist.)