I thought about not sharing this story, or only sharing it under a pen name. But this story has made me the person I am today. It broke me but I put myself back together again. And I hate that there is a stigma around mental illness and people don’t think depression is real. So here it goes. The story of my depression:
October 5 is a hard day for me.
It’s the anniversary of the depressive episode that almost took my life.
I returned to the US from Europe this day last year. I had just quit the teaching program in France that I thought I wanted to be a part of, packed my bags and left that little town on the outskirts of Lille. I headed for Paris. I spent five days there and then headed north to London, a place I’d never been but was desperate to visit. It was enchanting and alive. I got swept up in the rush of traffic and the rhythm of the Tube. I visited Museums and shops and walked on the Millennium Bridge aka “The Harry Potter Bridge.” I drank beer at a pub where I wrote in my journal and made some plans.
Then I got on a plane and headed home, where all of it came crashing back down.
Locking myself in my bedroom at my parents’ house, I entered one of the darkest depressions I’ve ever been in (which is saying a lot). There were days when I barely got out of bed. I started eating my feelings again, gaining more weight than I care to admit. I wore sweats for weeks and went days without showering, because why bother? I filled voids left in me with endless seasons of Gilmore Girls. It was the first time I had really watched it and like any misplaced relationship, I felt this connection to the Gilmores. I watched Rory and Lorelai fuck up their lives and fix them again, like my own life depended on it. And at that point it did. I remember crying when it finished. I am not a crier and it was the first time I had cried since leaving the program. They were heavy tears, emptying me of all the loss I felt. I was so empty.
It was an emptiness that made me numb. But if you turn off your emotions like I did and ignore your hurt, you can do just about anything. So I got up and showered. I pretended I was alright.
I started helping my aunt at her daycare. It is hard, tiring work, caring for children. But their little faces and smiles made me so happy and I forgot my own problems. I loved how tired it made me because when you are that tired you don’t have any brainpower left to think about your life and how you got there. But changes unfold like they always do and I found myself looking for jobs in my spare time. I got a temp job that I hated, but it allowed the creativity to flow during work and I found myself writing more. Still, I was lost and unhappy.
So unhappy in fact that I found myself sitting in my car, outside the public library where I would go on the weekends to apply for jobs. I sat there. Too defeated to go anywhere, too tired to move. I sat there and considered suicide.
That’s the first time I’ve written that down. It’s the first time I’ve really shared it. I have told two people how low I was that day. Two people that I knew could help me. It was the second time I had thought about suicide but the first time I really thought about killing myself, really thought about it. Before I had always just known that I couldn’t do that, not to the people I loved. But this time I didn’t care. All I cared about was making this hurt and sadness go away.
I thought that it would be easier. It would get rid of the massive student loans I have to pay off. I wouldn’t feel like a failure anymore. I wouldn’t have to figure out why I still alone at 23.
I sat in my car and figured out how I would do it. I stopped crying and just let the thoughts take over. They were so strong and awful and I was too weak to fight them.
Then my phone buzzed with an email. I was still sitting in my car in the library parking lot when it can in. It was an email setting up an interview for a job I really wanted. It was a life raft. I try to avoid pointing out the clichés in my life but if there is one I truly believe, it’s even when you are at your most desperate there is still hope. It does get better. I turned the keys in the ignition and headed home.
I haven’t had a depressive episode since February and I count the days like someone in AA, grateful for every single one.
Sure there are some things in my life that I wish I could change. I wish I didn’t have student debt, that I had a steady boyfriend, that I worked the field I want to be in, that I didn’t live at home, that I was skinny. But these are all things that I can change. I am starting to tack my debt head-on, with help from sites like this. I am dating (more on that to come). I have started my internship. I am grateful I have family to take me in when I need to be taken in. I have joined a gym and now I cook almost all my meals at home. I am working hard on things.
If I had given into my depression and let it win I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be working on building the future I want.
Life is hard work, especially for someone suffering from depression. How wonderful would it to be to be normal and not have to worry if today will be the day that an episode starts? But then again, normal is boring.
If you are suicidal, you are not alone. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and fight back. I am not a trained professional and don’t have any answers for people suffering from depression (I still struggle daily) but I am hear to listen if you need it. This site is and always will be a safe place to share the broken pieces of ourselves.