I wrote a piece about a time I nearly ended it, a time I nearly killed myself ("You Can Only Go So Far Down" elsewhere on this blog). Many people responded with love and I thank them for that. I wrote that piece for a couple reasons; I felt many people who were part of my life needed an explanation for my behavior of the past months (“You’re not yourself” was something I heard often), and I needed to write it down for myself. It can be calming, reassuring to see your story in blocks of text, away from you. You’re able to run your eyes across the emotions of the time and click off it, close it. It’s my story, at least a good chunk my story (of course its not the full story, but it never is, I don’t think I can tell everything even if I knew it all) but now it belongs to you in spirit, and everyone who reads this.
It’s not easy to tell people you're suffering from depression. It tends to taint interactions, either making people talk to you like you’re a ticking bomb and any loud noises or sharp movements will make you go off, or you’re a delicate flower, an eggshell that will crumble at a touch. This is human nature, the uneasiness of the different and I understand. People asked me many questions when I posted the previous piece, but the most asked was… why? Why would you even consider that?
The question is usually followed by a recitation of perceived good qualities and disbelief. We’ve all heard it after the fact: he was such a nice guy, she was so pretty and smart and talented… All probably true and all noted with genuine surprise that someone like that would “throw their life away”. That’s why I’m writing this follow up; not so much to answer the question, (can it really be answered?) but to give a little more of my personal experience. That really seems odd to say, to have ‘personal experience’ with wanting to stop. That’s what it is really, wanting it all to stop.
I said before that depression wants to kill you. This is true. Why? Why do depressed people think about killing themselves? Everyone is different I can only speak from and for me. It’s an extreme thing to do, a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” But it isn’t a temporary problem; it’s everyday life and it goes on and on… and on. Depression is like the bad parent, it just wants silence, and doesn’t care how it gets it. It wants it all to go away. To stop. Now. Depression is the vicious monkey that sits around your shoulders, hugs your back, chewing its message constantly in your ear. You can distract it for a time, but you can’t really make it go away. It chatters up everything you’ve ever done that it can use against you and when it runs out of those it’ll just make shit up. Your darkest fantasies are depressions voice and it’ll whisper them back to you like a lover telling you what they will do to you if they could only get you away from here, from everyone.
It doesn’t just 'go away'? No, not really. A good friend was telling me about a friend of his who had recently killed himself. The man had been depressed for a while, but recently he seemed to be doing better. He smiled more, and was getting out. Many thought since he smiled, he must be doing better. But depressed people aren’t the Shutterstock photos; leaning foreheads against rain-streaked windows, sitting on the floor in a corner and sighing into the dark. Wouldn’t that be nice if they were? We’d know what to look for. We could turn on the lights; lure them away from the wet windows. All would be good. You can be depressed and still smile, still laugh at a movie, still seem to be doing okay. There are those times when the monkey gets distracted and looks away, when he’s not as loud but still there. Waiting.
His friend left behind a family, a wife and kids who loved him, friends who mourned and missed him. He’d made it shut up, he’d found silence in the worst way possible but it was now quiet. It had stopped. And that’s it. It wants to stop, you want it to stop, taking your leave seems the only choice at times, the one that makes the most sense. To the depressed it can seem like taking control of the situation. That’s the depression sweetly convincing you of its own logic.
Yes, you want it to stop. It scratches at you, telling you how much you’re hurting everyone around you, how everyone will be better off without you. Depression has weight; it has size, heft and gravity. Everything is three times as hard as it used to be; what to wear, what to do, getting to the edge of the bed, just leaving the house is an exercise in will. So easy to make it all go away, so hard to fight against it.
One of the things you do in your clearer moments? Get rid of temptation. Like a person on a diet you move things out of reach, you give things away, you fill trashcans with your temptations and drop them at the curb. These are not junk foods or guilty snacks to eat after the house has gone to bed; you get rid of things that could easily kill you. Guns are the most obvious. As suicide is an impulsive act, the fastest and most accessible way is the way people will choose. Take away the gun in the home and suicides go down, that’s just a fact. Even a depressed person doesn’t want to have to work at it. Poisons if there are any, hunting knives, rope; you never knew there were so many ways to off yourself until you start looking at things in that light. You get rid of anything that will make it quick so things like alcohol and cigarettes are safe for the time being. Anything you can just pick up and use to end it are what you fill the donation bag with and throw in the trunk. It can be a sad thing, but can be liberating as well as it gives you just a bit more control and a feeling of safety, even if only temporarily.
It's a fight, you and depression. Drugs, therapy, exercise, taking a walk to clear your head, reaching out, or writing it all down; these are your weapons and the way you fight. It’s not easy; none of it is easy I’m afraid. Depression wants to kill you, that’s easy; the hard part is not letting it.