12 August 2014

Why I am Still, Somehow, Alive

(Obligatory link to Allie Brosh)

I can tell you the precise minute the depression started.

I sat at the family computer playing Outlaws, an FPS from the late nineties. Dad was watching something on television. The call came at thirty-nine minutes past midnight on the fourth of July, Central Daylight Time, 2000 CE. I was one week and one day shy of sixteen and one half years of age; my grandma was sixty-seven, three months, and three days, and she was dead of pancreatic cancer.

The rest of that summer is something I remember as though both through a fog and also painfully clearly. For the first time since I was six, I did not go to Girl Scout camp. I sat on the couch and watched Designing Women, Golden Girls, and Murphy Brown. I ate little. I could not bear the thought of being away from my mother for longer than she was at work.

That is when it started. Other than a brief, incredibly unsuccessful stint with Xanax, I did not get proper treatment until after I was with my wife, and it took her over a year to convince me. I was twenty-five when I went on the Wellbutrin, and it saved my life.

Wellbutrin is not why I am alive; it did not keep me from killing myself, but it did and does make me able to get out of bed every morning on a fairly regular schedule. I have to do the rest of the work of being alive, like brushing my teeth and eating and working. Some days are easier than others. Even with the treatment, I remember my younger self and know that I am not the same. But that is not what this post is about.

As of this writing it is unconfirmed, but there is a good chance that Robin Williams killed himself because of his depression.

O Captain, my Captain.

My heart bleeds for anyone who loved him. I do not know exactly what he was thinking, but I can hazard what might be a pretty accurate guess based on my own experiences. I have given varying degrees of consideration to offing myself a rather alarming number of times, and the reasons why I felt like I ought to do it tend to boil down to the following:

  1. I've made a hash out of my life and burnt it. The egg is overcooked, and I am all out of eggs. Nothing is ever going to get better. I am a waste of oxygen and carbon. I felt this way a lot when I was in college.
  2. No one actually loves me; they are just saying that. I am particularly prone to this one when I am feeling lonely and everyone I know happens to be busy.
  3. The people I love would be better off without the albatross of me tied round their necks.
It is important to note that my friends and family do not deserve for me to think numbers two or three; I am surrounded by a lot of incredibly loving people. I also do not generally feel this way, but it has been often enough that I have been able to distill some specific reasons for continuing to live whenever I am thinking I would be better off dead.
  1. I saw what the death of a close friend's sister did to her, and if there is even the slightest chance that I could cause anyone that kind of pain, I would rather live with my own rubbish and just deal with myself for an infinite amount of time. I cannot imagine making my wife feel that way.
  2. My mom cried (I felt really awful for making her cry) and told me that it would destroy her if anything happened to me.
  3. I actually do not want to die at all. Like ever.
  4. Tonight, I was told by someone that she would be lost without me. That is now part of the list.

I shan't claim to speak for all people who deal with depression, but I can say this for me: when I want to die, it is because I feel useless, like a burden, and/or like I am unlovable. Note that I did not say unloved. Unlovable. It is a depressing state of mind in which I am certain that everyone I hold dear are holding meetings to discuss how ridiculous and awful I am, and how it is really annoying that they have to pretend to like me. I am not completely making this up because I have had a lot of people talk about me behind my back in my life. The difference is that depression makes it seem like the people I actually trust are doing it.

This, incidentally, is why I attempt to be as straightforward and probably impolite with people as possible. No one should ever have cause to wonder if it is all a lie. I do not know if not experiencing catty people with multiple faces would have left me permanently unparanoid, but it may have helped.

So, when I want to die, I feel useless and unlovable, and I used to not tell anyone because no one likes to hear that someone wants to die.

Fortunately for me, my wife gave me a cease and desist on keeping it to myself and so now I tell her. Telling someone I want to die and having them just acknowledge it makes me want to die less. If someone tells you that they want to die, resist the urge to get shouty at them. Just listen and give them a hug. It probably helps.

As pathetic as it is, I need reminders that people love me and are not going to just suddenly abandon me. I know it is a lack of faith on my part and that it is furthermore needy and obnoxious. Knowing that I am needy and obnoxious sometimes makes me hate myself, but it is what's up. Tell the people you love that you love them and why on a regular basis. Everyone will be better off. I, fortunately, am not mentally ill enough that I will lose all rationality and forget my personal reasons for staying alive, or the broader, general reasons for staying alive.

Not everyone is as lucky as I.

So even if you, a non-depressed person, do everything right, someone you love my still harm themselves.

It is not your fault.

My self-hatred and depression do not come from my treatment at the hands of my mom, or anyone in my blood family, or my wife, or anyone in my chosen family, or society. It comes from within, and that is a whole other post that I may or may not actually write.

I am not even certain of my point other than I have tried to explain why I am alive, that it is sometimes a dicey proposition, and that the primary reasons are that at least one person on this Earth reckons she would be lost without me, another says she would be destroyed, my wife would be really upset, and still others would be at least a bit sad.

And that is enough. I find meaning in my relationships. So long as I have the people I love, I can look at attempting to set the world on fire with something akin to optimism, and at the very least, keep being alive. May others be so lucky.

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