Trigger warning: mentions of self harm & suicide.
When I was younger, maybe eleven or twelve years old, I have to confess that I didn’t believe depression was actually a thing and I thought anti-depressants were just sugar pills that made you believe you could be happier. Believe me, I cringe at how stupid I was too. But I learned and as I learned with grief, I took the difficult route to understanding.
I graduated high school in 2013. I was so happy then until I watched everyone I knew starting college and I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I never did go to college because I had no money to go, I didn’t want to start my life in debt and I just in general didn’t wanna jump through hoops to get money when college should be free or at least cheaper.
But anyways, everyone’s lives seemed so exciting, I was having a hard time finding a job, couldn’t pass my driver’s test. All the things in my life that could go wrong were going wrong. And it was kind of embarrassing when my friends had their stuff together. And I was just falling apart for what seemed like no reason.
And at a certain point, the pressure and the loneliness and the frustration became too much and I ventured into self harming. Now, I didn’t want anything that left scars. I didn’t want anything that would require bandages. I wanted to keep it as hidden as I could. Mostly because the one person who would see it didn’t understand my thoughts and was only focused on me finding a job and that was it. So, I started digging my nails into my arm. It felt like such a release of tension and anger and all that good stuff without making a mess and drawing attention to what I was doing. The wounds lingered for days though and became more obvious against my already pale skin as they healed. So, it seemed there wasn’t any way to do this without it being noticed but…no one ever noticed. Guess I hid it well.
I felt so alone in my feelings. I felt so lost and so isolated. Everyone seemed so happy and I resented them a little for it because I was in such a dark place and had no idea how to get out of it. I could’ve gone to my friends but I felt like I couldn’t. Two of my friends didn’t usually offer much comfort. One I didn’t bother with because she had stuff going on in her life too and the other because she’s so opposite of me. I’m very emotional and affectionate and all that and she’s not. The one person I could turn to wasn’t around much. And that is so not her fault, not in the slightest. She was just busy with college and her sorority and her new boyfriend, how could I drag her down? Not telling her what I was feeling at the time was my own decision. She would’ve been there for me if I had spoken up. I know that in my heart. But she was so far away and all she could do was just text me back and forth. I needed someone to cry to and for them to tell me I wasn’t a complete screw up because I sure as hell felt like one. However, she was there for me without even trying. Whenever she had the chance to come home and visit me, she always did. And for a moment, I felt like myself again even though the feelings were temporary and I’d have to go home and be stuck again. She kept me going when I needed it and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.
In May of 2014, I got hired as a courtesy clerk after nearly a year of searching for a job and things started changing from there. I got my license, I could talk to my friends again, everything was great. And I had met Jennifer and she was helping me a lot too.
I still had my low moments and one day, I was driving to my dad’s house and I glanced at the trees to my right as I drove by them. For a moment, I considered making a hard turn and crashing into those trees. I know that sounds like a very stupid idea as far as suicide attempts go but I literally tightened my grip on the wheel. For a moment, I was going to do it. No one was near me on the road. I could’ve done it without involving anyone else. Luckily, I didn’t and I realized what kind of thoughts were running through my head and it was terrifying. I remember telling Jennifer about it and she told me I was having suicidal thoughts and I needed help. I agreed but I never did follow her advice. I just kept it to myself as usual. And I continued through my many ups and downs.
But in July of 2015 when my grocery store closed and I was laid off, everything fell apart once more. As Jennifer had died shortly after I was laid off. I got stuck in that dark place again and I was even deeper than before. I had promised Jennifer that I would never hurt myself again as I’d been struggling with it. But with everything, I broke that promise and I resorted to digging my nails into my skin again.
I was miserable for months. I didn’t wanna eat or sleep or write or do any of the things I used to enjoy doing. But this time, I simply couldn’t keep it to myself. I told the one person I knew would listen. Even if all I could do was text her, it was better than bottling this up until I actually went through with a suicide attempt.
I asked her if I could confess something to her and she said yes, expecting something totally lighthearted and stupid I’m sure. But I spilled my guts. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me as I’d never been officially diagnosed but I felt so empty and so miserable and just not like myself. Almost like I was looking at myself in the mirror but I was looking at an entirely new person that I hated. I told her about my self harm, I told her about my suicidal thoughts. She was the first person I ever told.
About a minute after I sent that text, she called me. And she never calls me for anything so I was curious as to what was so important that she couldn’t say it over text. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got. She was crying. I’ve known this girl since we were eleven years old and this was the first time I ever heard her cry. And of course, that made me cry because I never wanted to upset her, which is why it took me nearly three years to tell her what was going on. She told me to always tell her, to know she’d be there. Unfortunately, I’ve had my slip ups since then and never said a word. I couldn’t bear the sound of her tears again. And so, I continued to suffer in silence.
I could’ve gone to a therapist as my dad’s insurace would’ve covered it but I never had the courage to tell him I needed it. Even though he told me it was always okay to ask for help, I never asked for it.
I don’t want to self diagnose, I don’t want to say I had something if I didn’t. But I know in my heart that what I felt wasn’t right, it wasn’t normal. It was something different than just being sad. But, these days I’m feeling like my normal self again but it’s almost scary because it always comes back in full force. And I just never know when it’s going to come back. And when it does, I have to force myself to function so my job isn’t affected. I don’t want to suffer in silence anymore.
So, how does one deal with and overcome depression and self harm? The answer is, well, I’m not sure you ever fully overcome it. I think it’s just always going to be there. But how to deal with it? How to try and keep it away in a healthy way? I have found that keeping busy helps. As bad as my social anxiety is, being around friendly faces at work every day helps me immensely. Something as simple as taking a walk can be helpful. You just have to fight it. And I know it’s hard. It hurts a hell of a lot more to fight it than it is to just let it consume you. It’s easy to be smothered by that darkness and just accept it for what it is. But it’s not worth it. That’s the most important thing is that you have to fight it, even if you fall a few times. You’ll eventually come out on top. And as my dad said, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is no shame in it. Never, ever be ashamed of asking for help. It’s been almost four years and I have never once asked for it and that’s my mistake. And one day that mistake is going to come back to haunt me. Even if asking for help is just asking for a few comforting words from a friend or just anyone who will listen. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. Or get a journal, release all of your thoughts and feelings onto a page. You’ll be surprised by how much of a relief it is to release that negative energy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to their website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org