Warning: This post is about mental illness and about suicide.
I started writing this just before we traveled to Texas to join in a family Christmas celebration – my husband’s family, not mine.
I was off WordPress for a year, in what I call a “dark place.” I suffer bouts of depression, like everyone else, I guess, and then there are the really rough times, the dark days or months – once even a dark year. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression. I’m on meds and have seen therapists for years. No one seems to know what makes some times worse than others. The past year has been one of those dark places.
Oddly, I can go on with my life during most of the really difficult times, or a least a version of it. I do a good job at work, greet neighbors, run errands, smile, and then come home, close the door and give in to the depression – it takes all my energy to put on that false front. I’ve spent a good deal of my life pretending to be someone or something I’m not, wearing a mask to please others. I’m tired.
My childhood was abusive, physically and emotionally, yet I was the happiest kid at school, excelling in school work, teacher’s pet, the most popular, etc. I’ve perfected the ability to be funny, make people like me, make people happy. I understand, of course, that it comes from spending so much time trying to make and keep my mother happy so she wouldn’t hurt my younger sister and me.
I spent my childhood learning coping mechanisms, but they’ve begun to wear out as I’ve gotten older. The severe bouts of depression occur more frequently despite the help I receive from family and professionals. I also find fewer reasons to live as I age, and those really dark places lead quickly to the desire not to live any longer.
I’ve had a plan for that end, my end, for years, a rather macabre use of my great event planning skills, I think. I made an attempt when I was twenty – a feeble one, one of those they call a “cry for help.” I’ve come close to but not followed through on two other times, one four years ago and one during this last year. It’s worrisome to others that the most recent two came so closely together.
I can give lots of reasons for wanting to die. Some are extremely feeble. For instance, my desire not to live any longer today is because I’m stressed by having to spend the holidays with my in-laws. Not for the typical “I can’t stand them” reason, because I do really like them. But, rather because I’m sure they wouldn’t like me if they knew the “real” me.
Rationally, I can tell you that is assinine. Emotionally, it seems like a very good reason. I have no desire to go into a situation where I feel I have to be someone I am not, cheerful and smiling. It’s not that I’m never those things, it’s just that I’m not comfortable having to be. Being someone I’m not is just tiring, but if I let down and they saw the real me ….
I also look back on my life now and wish I’d died instead of one of my best friends who died when we were 37, leaving behind two beautiful daughters (my Goddaughters)under ten. I see automobile accident victims and think, wish, it could have been me. Rationally, again, it’s ridiculous. But, it’s what I feel. And, the thoughts still come daily.
Another odd thing is that I hear about suicides among young people and I’m devastated. But, I’m fine with doing it myself. Even those contradictions tire me. Why them, not me? Why would a child want to kill himself? (There are chat rooms for children who are depressed and contemplating suicide; it breaks my heart.”)
The one thing I’ve learned is that there is no making any sense of mental illness. I’ve also learned, the hard way, that I can’t miss a dose of medications. Mental illness is an illness, just as is diabetes, or cancer, and it can be just as deadly. I’m living with a serious illness. Some times are easier than others. Some times are harder. Period.