I'm The Guy Who Sucks, Plus I Got Depression
Things I have, in all earnestness, likened my heart to over the past few years:
- a dead cattle skull
- a burnt cake pan
- the ice planet Hoth
- Woody Guthrie
Maudlin, right? It’s hard not to be a little maudlin when you’re circling the drain of depression. I hate that feeling, knowing it’s lurking nearby, thinking about paying a visit. Sometimes some event in life triggers it, but this time, there is absolutely no reason. My life is pretty fantastic right now. I’m one hundred times happier than I was a year ago, two hundred times happier than I was two years ago. I’m about to turn thirty and have a book published and spend a summer traveling with good friends. I have an amazing family and pretty hair. But recently I’ve been spending a lot of my time consumed with self-loathing, which leads to self-pity, which goes right back to the self-loathing, because what do I have to be upset about? Not a damn thing. The stoic Midwesterner in me hates this bullshit, but here it comes.
I have had a long history with depression. Sometimes it’s been bad. Other times it’s been really bad. When I’m depressed, I hate myself to the point that it exhausts me. Everytime I open my mouth, my brain says, “Shut up, you’re not funny, everyone wishes you would stop talking.” Which could totally be true, but that’s depression talking. It makes me irritable at first, and then when it gets bad, it makes me want to sleep all day. I start to daydream about those green hilly sanitariums where people in wicker chairs gaze at the horizon. I remember thinking once, during a downswing, that I would be okay if I could just lie down on the sidewalk and not move, for maybe a week.
Once, a few years ago, during a downward swoop, while running with my dad, I suddenly stopped running and started choking out sobs, out of nowhere, and admitted to him that I’d been thinking about suicide, almost constantly. My father’s answer to this was that maybe I should volunteer somewhere. I know what you’re thinking: what an insensitive response! At first I thought that too. It shocked me so much I stopped crying. But then the part of me that’s like my father (which, to be honest, is a lot) was like, “You know, that’s not bad advice.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that. Walk it off. Grin and bear it. Focus on something else. I’ve got a roof over my head and people who love me, so I should quit my bitching and keep busy and just wait it out. And that’s pretty much what I do.
I’ve seen a few counselors in my lifetime. I think therapy could help everyone a little, but it’s not a cure. I am completely averse to medicating during these downward spirals, even though I’ve had it explained to me over and over again that it’s safe and temporary and won’t change who I am. Except that I think it will. So I don’t do it. I’ve seen it work for other people, and I think that’s wonderful, but it’s just not for me. Does that make me Christian Scientist somehow? Is this like refusing anesthesia for an amputation and clamping down on tree bark instead? Maybe, but I feel better about the tree bark.
Once, at the very very worst part of my life—a time that stretched over a month or so, but the nadir, I can pinpoint to a single moment—I knew that if I didn’t tell someone I wanted to kill myself, I would actually kill myself. You know what they say: people who actually want to commit suicide don’t fail. But I didn’t want to kill myself, not really. I just wanted to be dead. So I called my friend Laura, the most no-nonsense person I know. It was really hard to tell her why I was calling. Have you ever admitted to someone that you want to kill yourself? I mean like in the present tense, not like how I’m admitting it to you right now. It’s the most humiliating thing you could ever possibly say out loud. I kept sobbing and not being able to say it, but when I did, her response was, “Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” which is 100% true. And then I started crying in a different way, out of embarrassment, but mostly relief, because I knew I couldn’t actually end it if it meant Laura was going to think I was stupid. I respect her opinion a lot. That’s why I called her. Also because I knew she wouldn’t put up with my bullshit. You need someone who will not put up with one tiny bit of your bullshit when you’re suicidal, because at that moment, you are all bullshit, regardless of whether or not you mean it.
I feel like I should clarify here that thinking about suicide and actually contemplating going through with it are completely different. I’d warrant that every intelligent person on the planet has thought about suicide at least once, and probably decided the way they’d do it if they had to. Just like you imagine the way you’d prefer to die of natural causes. My dad assured me once that I’d die in a bed, surrounded by my loving children, but I’ve always suspected I’ll die alone, late at night, bleeding out on a cold tile floor. Hopefully I’ll be at least 90 when that happens. Who wants to die in their sleep, anyway? That sounds like a gyp of a way to go to me. I want to be awake when it happens. And preferably not in the bathroom.
I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing about this here, especially since I typically make it a point not to write about really personal stuff online. Maybe because it’s not a big deal, it’s sort of just part of my life. Plus, I feel like it’s part of why I haven’t been writing, and it’s easier just to write about that then to try and come up with a post. I guess I owe you some dick jokes, internet, because this heartfelt aside is probably freaking some of you out a little.
Anyway, I’m not anywhere near suicidal right now. I’m not even depressed yet. Maybe it’ll skip my house this year. If it does show up, I’ll bite down on my tree bark and wait it out. I am okay. I am loved. But everybody probably does wish that I wouldn’t talk quite so much.
P.S. Post title comes from Achewood, which you should start reading immediately if you don’t already.