I wish when you got diagnosed with depression they gave you a manual that was called “Here’s how it’s gonna suck.” I wish I knew what I was in for.
Growing up the only thing I ever heard about suicide was, “Don’t do it.” Throw in a little religious stuff and that’s pretty much all I had to go on.
Fast forward a couple decades and I’m now drifting, lost, in an ocean of depression. What I never knew about being suicidal, what nobody ever told me, was that the actual act of committing suicide comes at the end of a nightmare that starts long before.
Personally I’ve never attempted suicide but that’s not to say it isn’t a daily part of my life. On a good day it’s in my brain only part of the time. Sadly, many days I can’t help but think about it constantly.
In my mind I’ve probably killed myself 20 times a day minimum almost every day for the last two years.
Every intersection is an opportunity to end it.
Every 18-wheeler I pass on my run is a chance to finally stop all this.
Even though I don’t actually do it, I still experience way too much. I get to see it all play out over and over in my head.
The visions are awful. Take every horror movie you’ve ever avoided, make yourself the victim and the killer at the same time, and then play it on a loop all while trying to have meaningful conversations with people, conduct business, pretty much act like a normal member of society. That’s what I deal with daily. In church, on a date with my wife, at a meeting for work; the visions come when they want and they stay as long as they’d like.
I try to keep busy but I always feel like I’m haunted. It doesn’t matter the time of day or where I am, any moment can become a scary movie.
I hate going to sleep because I don’t know what I will dream. I don’t know how I will die. I don’t know who will do it (usually me). Then there’s always the fact that if I survive the nightmares I will actually wake up and have to do all this stuff over again the next day.
From the few suicidal/depressed people I’ve talked to the visions thing is common. How much can that help though? It’s common that a broken leg hurts; doesn’t make mine hurt less. Still it seems I’m not the only one with these visions and that helps a bit.
It’s hard to not be constantly discouraged. It hurts to live like this.
But then I think about those who have had to deal with this before me. Those who did finally check out and my heart breaks because I assume their visions were so much worse than mine. I don’t understand how mine can get any worse but I just know they can and that those visions have for so many others.
I just want to hold those people and tell them the visions aren’t real. But you know what, they are real. When it’s all you see some days, when you’re stuck in your home, alone and the depression is so bad you can’t move, the visions in your brain are real. I don’t know how you can comfort that.
With all of this going on inside for some people don’t you think it would affect how they act? Don’t you think it would screw with how they reacted to the average challenges of life? You bet it does!
Imagine if you had to deal with all of this AND your boss too, or your kids. Yet many people do on a daily basis. Many people, like myself, count it a personal victory any day they arrive at the end and haven’t killed themselves. They survived the visions, the temptations the insistent prodding of whatever force you want to call it – they survived it. They got to the end of the day and didn’t give in. That’s a huge win for them.
That’s why I believe people who deal with depression are some of the strongest people on the planet. They deal with all of this and they still do their job. They take care of their kids. They build businesses. They try to make a positive impact on the world and they do it all uphill against the wind.
People battling depression are not weak, they are inadvertent badasses. They didn’t ask for this life but they are surviving it and trying desperately not to kill themselves. They are fighters. They endure daily.
They need your encouragement and your prayers but you better believe they deserve your respect too.
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The thing nobody ever told me about being suicidal is that it would haunt me every day even if I didn’t want to do it. What I want to tell you about being suicidal is that even in that darkness you can still feel strong. I know I do.
Cowering, crying in a corner of my room I’m still stronger than most because I saw my death over and over today and chose to still keep living.
With every passing day, though the depression often feels worse, I feel stronger. The miles are long and the hills are grueling but I am stronger today than I was yesterday. If I make it through today I’ll be even stronger tomorrow.
If you’re dealing with this illness you have to know that you can feel that way too. It is rare that a runner ever looks their best in the later miles but you would never call them weak. So don’t do that to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because of your depression – beat it back by moving forward.
That’s all we can do. We either move forward or we quit.
Today I choose to keep moving forward.
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