I remember waking up in the wintery chill of my bedroom some years ago, in the middle of the night, and calmly deciding “if things don’t get better in the next two months, I will kill myself.”
It has been a long time since I had this thought and although it still comes back to me in a muddled haze, usually late at night, I do not relate to the person who was so nonchalant in regards to the prospect of a future. In the time between then and now, while I have not been cured, I have grown into someone who does not dream of being dead. Today, I will plan for the next years of my life; then, I would’ve thought of nothing but how the past dragged me into a life I wanted nothing to do with.
While I wholeheartedly believe in the healing powers of modern day medicine: Prozac, Xanax, among others, I also know that pills do not do the same thing for everyone. I know people who have been relieved of every suicidal thought by taking a cocktail of medicine at the same time everyday, but that was not me. I spent countless hours in therapy, slowly picking away the skin surrounding my nails, tapping my foot in a catatonic rhythm, trying so desperately to think of things to say but mostly settling into uncomfortable silence, waiting for my psychiatrist to provide me with advice. I was prescribed the same pill at the same time everyday, but often ended up throwing it up or forgetting it altogether. When I didn’t take it, withdrawal gave me such crippling anxiety and OCD that I could not sit on the train home without dissolving into tears about how the electronic message screen was not properly centered. At times, I sat on the floor of my shower as the water turned cold and pulled out my own hair. When I did remember to take my pill, I became full of an energy that did not rid me of my unhappiness but instead made me more aware of it; I was usually so sleep-deprived and sluggish that it was hard to focus on depressing thoughts, but now I had a new capability to go through each and every one, every hour of the day.
My transition from the comfort of high school to a post-secondary institution did not help: I had no friends in my classes, and felt an existential loneliness that sunk into my bones and painted dark circles under my eyes. I was incapable of opening up to anyone, and found myself hoarding bad day after bad day in the backlogs of my brain, while simultaneously trying to memorize important dates of Western civilization: the Magna Carta, the Enlightenment, every date of birth and death of every Pope ever. When I did manage to speak, my thoughts were muddled together and subsequently became incoherent and futile. I remember telling my therapist, “I want to be airlifted out of my life.”
After a self-sabotaged suicide attempt, laying in a hospital bed, listening to IV’s drip into my arms, I made a decision: start over.
I filled out the paperwork in the days proceeding: changed my program, my school, and began to feel a semblance of life again. I was not cured but I was alive, opened my bedroom curtains, went on long runs, still skipped class but spent hours bent over books, examining art works and marking down my favorite styles. I like Baroque ceilings, abstract paintings, and the writing of the Romantics.
When I woke up in the mornings, I was not terrified.
I fell in love, I began asking for help, I hugged my friends; told them when I missed them. I ate lunch with other people. I stopped avoiding mirrors, stopped trying to cover the dark circles. I smiled, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. I wrote all the truth I could think of: did not shy away from the symptoms of depression or the crippling reality of sexual harassment and insecurity.
I am comfortable enough now to admit that I do still sometimes feel an achy loneliness, still find getting out of bed difficult, have days where my mind is plagued by disgusting, intrusive thoughts about all of my insecurities (and yes, there are still many). But these days are numbered compared to what they were before; they have gone from being my entire life to now being only a part of it.
Sometimes, now, I wake up in the comforting silence of my bedroom and think “I am going to be okay.”
Published by Emily Peotto