Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts
It starts slow.
It’s a little harder to focus during a meeting, I forget to send an email, and I don’t have the energy to see my friends. Tasks that I could once complete on autopilot now require a little extra time and care.
This becomes a new normal. Everything is just a little harder and my head is just a little foggier. Maybe weeks pass like this, but it feels like years. My behavior changes ever-so-slightly—I barely notice the shift.
It’s not enough to worry anyone around me. “Oh, they’re just growing up” or “They’re just having an off week,” my loved ones think.
Each day burns a little hotter and the negative voices inside become louder. Each personal and professional failure stings more than it should. It feels like I have further to fall each time I make a mistake.
I start messing up more and people start to notice. I’m not acting like myself, because everything inside has darkened. I don’t remember how I survived before.
The only focus I have is basic survival. Daily mantras are supposed to help calm the mind, but “don’t kill yourself” is the best I can muster.
I had a tough 2018—maybe it’s just leftover emotions bubbling to the surface.
One day, it explodes.
Everything I am hiding and thinking comes rushing forward, spilling out of my mouth to anyone who will listen. My flight reflex kicks in, and I swear I can never return to the people who watched me disintegrate. I run from everything.
I turn off my phone, don’t check my email, and just hide from the world. I can’t go on like this anymore, but I also don’t know how to reset. It’s gotten too hard and I realize that I can’t find help alone.
I try and take everyone’s advice around me, each person coming forward with their own perspective, but none of it works like I wish it would.
Out of the necessity for survival, I shed all of my responsibilities, and my only focus in life is getting better. It can’t be that hard, right?
Days turn into weeks, and I run into anyone’s arms who will listen. “I’m sad” doesn’t seem like enough, but “I’m depressed” seems too real.
I watch endless hours of Netflix while avoiding taking steps to get better. I smoke a joint, laugh with friends, and take a bubble bath. At this point, these vices become more of an escape than a recovery plan. Self-sabotage begins to take on the form of self-care.
“Remember a time when you were happy,” my therapist requests. My mind draws a blank. Surely there must have been a time when I was completely in bliss. This is the moment I realize I don’t think I’ve ever actually felt okay. Even in the most serene situations, thoughts of what I could be doing better always linger.
I’m just not quite enough of anything to deserve happiness yet.
My doctor increases my dose of antidepressants, and I increase my daily intake of weed and bad ‘90s movies.
I continue to talk about my diagnosis to anyone who will listen, and I realize that everyone around me is sad too. Is this normal?
But one day I wake up before my alarm. The fog has started to clear and for a second I feel like the old me. A small amount of motivation is overwhelming, and I’m terrified to act on it.
But I take the first step, and then the second.
In the wise words of Lana Del Rey, “Although I’m not happy, I’m also not that sad.”