This video is very important and I love it. (all credit to THE RSA and Brene Brown)
I disappeared. I stopped writing. I was going through one of those hopeless periods where I couldn’t wait to die. I hated the last week or so. I hated everyone. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so much contempt for the world in my life, then again, I’m sure I’ve said that before. Yesterday I lost it. I sat in my office. I wrote two notes. Both of which blamed the world for how I felt, and I prepared. I felt calm. I felt at ease. I felt in control in that moment; but I knew I owed it to my wife and kids to wait. Just wait and see. “I feel bad today, so I’ll wait and see what tomorrow is like.” That’s seems to work for me. It keeps me going one more day. In those moments, that’s what matters; just getting one day further. I owe my wife and kids.
I started this blog because I saw a lot of shame in having an illness -especially one so common. My son felt shame in feeling sadness at seven. No one should feel that. I have an obligation to be honest (too honest in most cases), in hopes that someone else might find some use from this. Even if it’s only my kids. At least they will know me and hopefully will be able to be spared from that stigma within the five of us. I just hope that someone finds comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. I hope that’s the case. I hope this helps someone. Being this naked isn’t easy but I appreciate you all giving me that opportunity and for being kind. This could have gone in a different direction than it has. At the very least, thank you for letting me be so wordy and self-righteous without being critical and abusive. I appreciate that more than you could ever know. Even if no one is reading this.
Some days you wake up and can’t remember why you felt so hopeless and why you had given up. You wake up and you’ve snapped out of it and now you feel guilty and stupid for not being able to think positively enough to pull yourself out before. That guilt rises up in an instant because you felt sorry for yourself enough that you wanted to stop your heart from pumping blood into your organs. You wanted to stop the oxygen from reaching your brain, so you could slowly drift away. You made plans. And now those plans make you feel like such an asshole because you can’t just look on the bright-side, and you think you should have been able to because today you can. And that’s the problem. You couldn’t control it a day ago, and the week was a constant battle and now you seem to have suddenly gotten better and you’re “driving the car” again.
The internal struggle is always the same; you feel so sad, you feel hopeless, you feel so very alone and invisible. You’re sure this is the last time, you’re absolutely sure and resolute in putting an end to it. This is the last time you’ll feel this way, this is the last time you will let yourself be so helpless. You’re going to take control and your savior is permanence and absolution. You know what it will do to those around you, but you’ve justified it and you know they will be better off. You’re merely holding them back from seeing their potential. You are dragging them down with you. You are a weight on their soul and you can make it all better when you’re hanging by a thread. You’ve talked yourself into it, you’ve made peace with it, and you’ve left your note and said your goodbyes, and then the guilt creeps in. You have a wife and children, you love them you asshole. You are such a dick. What’s wrong with you? One more day and see how you feel then.
So, you decide to wait one more day and it gets a little easier, and you wait another day and you feel the same but who cares because you don’t have anywhere to be and don’t see a point either way, and the guilt of it all has stopped any new attempts. So, you keep waiting, and you have the worst day of them all and so you have to make a choice. Wait more or stop procrastinating? But you find something you love more than yourself and you hold onto it and you hope that it loves you so much that your procrastinating might be worth it to them.
So, you wait and wait. Then one morning you wake up and its gone. It hits you in the face. You’re stunned. You feel fine. You didn’t think this would end this time, but you feel ok, and you can’t imagine why you felt that way to begin with. You feel better, you aren’t completely happy, but you feel calm and somewhat content; living seems easier to do. You’ve found some sense of clarity and now the guilt isn’t about leaving people behind but its about how sorry you felt for yourself. Other people have problems too asshole.
“Why can’t you just find a silver lining?” “Why can’t you look at the bright-side or think positive, like everyone else?” “Why are you such a piece of shit?” “Why do you feel so sorry for yourself?” How could you possibly think about suicide? “You’re so selfish!” “All you had to do was think positive.” “You just want attention.” But none of it is true. In those moments, positivity doesn’t exist for me. It isn’t there. It isn’t an option. All there is is escape. I am looking for a way out and I am running to it because I can’t take that burning in my chest anymore. I can’t take that loneliness. That misery -that invisibility and ironic anxiety. You don’t see it as ever getting better. Your brain tells you that this is your reality, and this is how you will always feel, and this is how you will feel for the rest of your life. It’s unbearable -and I can’t emphasize that enough; It. Is. Unbearable. Its like losing a loved one every day and just living with it while everyone tells you to think positive. It’s unbearable and unfathomable, and so, in a panic, you just try to find a way out.
There is a difference there that I think people are missing. There is a faint line between feeling sadness and being clinically depressed. And the line of thinking where people think this is controllable, is insane. No one wants to feel this way. That’s the point of suicide… People need to realize that suicide happens because people can’t find a way out and they keep hearing “stop focusing on the negative” and that is alienating. For me, it makes me feel like I’m damaged beyond repair. Beyond repair. Doesn’t that sound final? Broken beyond repair. Why wouldn’t I want to disappear when the only way to be fixed is to just think positive. Sometimes it isn’t possible for me. People really believe we sit here just thinking negatively all day until we talk ourselves into self murder? But you’ve told me that I should just think positive until it goes away, and I can’t get myself to do that, so now I know I’m just a trash human that likes to feel sorry for themselves. So, what other conclusion is there? If its broken, you throw it away.
And there is the divide. Some people believe there is some kind of control over those thoughts. That’s the divide between a random sadness and clinical depression or bi-polar disorder. There is a lack of control that people can’t understand. Some of us don’t have the luxury of controlling our emotions all the time. It isn’t a choice. We don’t even realize it’s happening most of the time. I can feel the mood changes but I can’t control them. In most cases our emotions are completely at the wheel. They steer you into making decisions you might not always make. I’ve tried to use the wait and see approach but sometimes its just overwhelming.
Waiting is the only control I do have during those periods. It’s a helpless feeling. I don’t know who I will be that day. I don’t know which “me” my family will see that day. Everyone suffers from “me” on those days.
My pain comes out in anger because I can’t seem to just be sad in front of people. I can’t seem to just breakdown. I lock myself in a room and wait. And then when I can’t lock myself up anymore I hope that no on speaks to me or asks me what’s wrong or asks me what they can do -while secretly hoping they ask me all those things- and then I’m angry about it anyway. Its confusing and I don’t understand it, but its that lack of control taking over. I am so self-aware, and I know my patterns but I’m a passenger in my own anguish at those times.
Its weird, because when I’m out of it I feel so ashamed of who I was, and I can’t understand why that version of me felt so helpless. I empathize with it, but I can’t wrap my head around the me that gave up. And I can’t tell anyone except this blog because verbalizing it feels like complaining. It feels like whining. But I know that I don’t make enough serotonin and I know that there is a scientific explanation. But deep down I know that isn’t accepted and so I’m still nothing but a complaining whiner that should just stop focusing on the negativity. It’s such a fucked-up cycle.
I can’t allow myself not to feel guilty for how I feel but I also don’t want others to feel guilty for how they feel so I write these blogs in hopes that someone can relate or show a family member or get some help. When people say you are not alone, its absolutely and unequivocally true. You are truly not alone. We are all different, but we are not unique. We are not singular. It isn’t about being positive. That responsibility shouldn’t be on you. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilt for being mentally ill. You should be accepted for being human. You are brave, and you continue going even when moving forward seems like the worst possible decision. You are brave, and I admire you. And I thank you for inspiring me to wait and see.
Depression, bi-polar disorder, and mental illness as a whole, are so stigmatized. Everyone wants to fix it with positivity rather then treatment and acceptance. People who don’t understand it don’t want to understand it, they want you to snap out of it. That’s a problem. We treat criminality with less looking down our noses then we do depression. We treat depression like a cancer in which the patient doesn’t want to be cured. We look at the mentally ill as being ungrateful but being grateful and appreciative is what has kept us going. You don’t understand why someone would choose death over life. You don’t understand why someone would decide that living hurts too much because it doesn’t hurt everyone in such extremes. It isn’t considered common. One in four isn’t just a saying. It’s a statistic. One in four people suffer from mental illness. There isn’t a look or a physical symptom, we look just like anyone else. We smile and laugh like anyone else. We hide in plain sight -it’s indistinguishable. It’s so unfortunately common.
And if you are telling people to stop being so negative, you are part of a problem. This will sound harsh, but lives are at stake. You are part of a machine that created a stigma that has killed thousands. You are culpable. Period. It’s your responsibility to support and accept, not to diagnose and prescribe positivity like a cure all. What happens when your cure and prescription don’t work? Depression can be terminal, and when the cure doesn’t work the hope is gone and giving up gets easier.