I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I have a history of depression. There was a point, for about 4 or 5 months, where it was so bad all the time that I frequently thought about killing myself. Frequently as in every day, most of the day. I even made what one might call suicidal gestures (doing dangerous things, but not actually getting to the point).
I got past it with therapy and medication (which I’ve been able to come off now) and loads of support. When I look back and remember who I was then, how I felt then, I don’t blame myself for wanting what I did. Depression is a terrible illness, it eats away at your mind and your reasoning and shows you things clearly but without perspective. Yelling at a depressed person, telling them to cheer up, is like telling someone who’s been in an accident to learn to walk again without giving them physical therapy.
Watching this week’s House episode (no spoiler in this article, but you knew from its teaser that someone would die), I decided to do something that I’ve thought about for a while but never concretized.
Sometimes, when something very good happens or when I’m just feeling supremely calm and happy with the way things are, I think to myself, “Good. If I were dead, I couldn’t have done that/be here right now.”
So I thought I’d list some of the things, very big and very small, that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I’d killed myself at 19. Parents and relatives I know you read this blog and I want to warn you that the list may make you cry, as it made me when I wrote it.
- I would never have gotten married–there’s so much I would have missed. Micah would also not have had a wife, at least probably not for a while.
- I never would have gotten to see my mom’s resiliance and will to live in the face of the cancer that crushed my own will to live.
- I would never have started this blog and formed some amazing relationships.
- I would never have learned the difference between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA.
- I would never have started consulting on blogs and learned/done so much.
- I would never have seen two of my friends start dating and get married–and it might not have happened, as I was very involved in the beginning of their relationship.
- I would never have started the beautiful quilt I’m about to finish and that I’m enjoying so much.
- I would never have installed Ubuntu Linux dual boot on my old laptop.
- I would never have made it to a point where I wasn’t crying for hours every night.
- I would never have seen my roommate go to Palestine.
- I would never have met so many people whose friendship I now treasure.
- I would never have seen my little sister graduate from highschool.
- I would never have seen how beautiful my mom looked at my wedding.
- I would never have seen how happy Micah looked at our wedding.
- I would never have sewn two wedding gowns.
- I would never have cut my own hair.
- I would never have written my senior project.
- I would never have been to San Diego or Seattle or Michigan or Massachusetts or New Hampshire.
- I would never have visited my friend Danielle’s grave.
- I would never have written over 16,000 words of fiction and counting.
- I would never have seen so many movies I enjoyed.
- I would never have seen the tv series Firefly, Buffy, Angel, Torchwood–all of which I’ve totally geeked out over.
- I would never have reread Middlemarch or read Harry Potter, Maurice, The Berlin Stories, Season of Migration to the North…
- I would never have listened to the musicals Notre Dame de Paris, Avenue Q, Wicked, Rent, Hairspray…
- I would never have lived with most of my college roommates/housemates.
- I would never have learned any PHP or heard of WordPress.
- I would never have heard the new Foo Fighters album or Weezer album. And they’re both fantastic!
- I would never have sung Rutter’s Requium (or even heard it!).
- I would never have used a hair clip.
- I would never have bought my awesome hat.
- I would never have graduated from college (summa cum laude, baby!)
- I would never have had pillow talk about Plato’s Republic (yes, this happens when you marry a philosopher).
- I would never have seen my cousin’s baby, who, I contend, is the sweetest, cutest baby ever born. (And I would not have seen her sister’s baby overcome a condition that nearly killed him an hour after birth.)
- I would never have learned that I like yogurt.
- I would never have completed National Novel Writing Month.
- I would never have donated bone marrow stem cells which may have saved a life.
Some of those have been big moments in my life, some have been tiny ones that I’m glad I was here for. There are so many more that I can’t even write because the thought of missing them is so painful. There are others that aren’t coming to mind right now but that would make me say, if I remembered, “yes, I’m glad I was there for that.” Little things like lovely walks along the college creek with friends, teatime at with my housemates. Even painful things, because they have meaning too.
If you’re reading this and have been thinking of killing yourself, I’m asking you to hold on for at least one more day. You’ve held on for so many, hold on for a few more while you get help. It won’t fix everything right away, but things are fixable–there are ways to be happy, even for short periods, despite the nothing and the ridiculousness of it all. And I’ve found that those periods get longer and longer.
I’m not going to say “there’s so much to live for” because that’s trite and it’s hard to see that it’s true until afterward. But 4 years later I am so very glad that I lived.
If you need someone to talk to, you can call: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-8255 (in the States) or 08457 90 90 90 (in the UK) or check out http://www.befrienders.org/. Or if you don’t feel you can speak about it, you can e-mail with: firstname.lastname@example.org (these e-mails will be answered by a real person, so there can be a delay). These people can also help you find support in your local area.