Trigger warning: depression, self-harm, suicide
I stare at the faces of my friends as they chat amongst each other in my living room. Laughing. Smiling. Holding it together. A couple in the group have had a baby boy who is crawling around being adorable. I want to feel joy like they are but I can’t. My mind is elsewhere as it often is. I’m thinking of how close this second family of mine has come to losing me to depression again. Which is such a strange thought for someone to have once, never mind multiple times.
Only moments before my friends arrived, I was frozen in my bed upstairs trying my best not to self-harm or commit suicide. It’s so strange how close they came to not having me in their life. That hits me as it has done so many times before and I go quiet.
They’re used to me being quiet due to my mental health but this time they think it’s just because I’ve got the flu and can’t talk without coughing my guts up. No. I’m in shock as is standard when the weight of my reality hits me. It’d be worse if I’d have cut myself. I don’t hide it. I can’t anymore. Me, my mum and my housemate made an arrangement that I would force myself to tell them if it happened again. I break down when it happens either way.
This time, though, it nearly took me. Like it was nothing. Like tomorrow would roll round and they wouldn’t have to find me in my room. Like my friends and family wouldn’t be mentally destroyed. Like that baby wouldn’t grow up without an auntie who it barely even knows now. I’d just be a story to him, or a cautionary tale on why you should always talk about your problems and reach out.
Sadness washes over me in waves so a while back I started to see my depression as myself fixed upon a coast. The tide is always there and it always hits me in someway everyday. Sometimes the waves are bigger than others and sometimes they drag me out with them.
Even though the wave took me with it that time, I didn’t self harm. I was out at sea, afloat in my bed as I’ve been before and I didn’t drown. That was the main take-away for me. I stopped it. I bunkered down and I didn’t hurt myself or end it. I held on with all I had.
I’m not sure what got me through it. In those moments, pleasant thoughts on friends and family can’t help and messaging anyone is out of the question for me. So many times I had someone up on my phone, my thumbs lingering over the keyboard searching for what to say. I’d then give up and move to the next person. It would build, making me worse and feel more isolated. Every time I thought of someone new who I could speak to there would be reasons why I couldn’t. I knew if I’d spoken to them recently about stuff it couldn’t be them that time, that’d be too much on their shoulders. Which is of course a lie told to me by my depression.
Sometimes you just can’t reach out and sometimes you realize that you can 100% fight this on your own when you have to. That those things attacking you aren’t beating you, you’re in fact beating them by holding on. Every “little” victory is massive. If anything, having depression has showed me that those who suffer from depression are some of the strongest fucking people on the planet. To mentally fight this off constantly is an achievement. Some won’t know what its like to be sad all the time and thats good, ideally no one would. But spare a thought to those who are and remember how fucking strong they are.
I don’t know what it was that pulled me through and still does every day but I’m here and that’s what matters.
One day the waters will be calm.
Art by Jess Brown