I have to warn you that this is a really emotional and personal story. It also isn’t just my story. This means that if you know me personally or have a similar story this may be hard to read at first. Things do get better, but the path still needs to be walked.
I have no real idea when my emotional struggles started. Probably back when I started puberty and I thought that everything sucked. To say that I was an emotional teenager is a huge understatement (just ask my mom). I can, however, tell you when I hit rock bottom. January of this year (2020).
As a highly emotional person I tend to take everything personally and then stuff those hurt or painful feeling into my chest to cry over later. I can dwell with the best of them and hide my emotions behind a smile. But recently things wouldn’t stay hidden. They’d come up to visit during the worst times, like when I would drop my kid off at school, during office meetings, or in the middle of the night (my favorite). It would build in my chest and leak out my eyes making me feel foolish and I’d fear any situation that would cause any emotional stress.
I hated this. It wasn’t getting better on my own. I needed help. I talked to a doctor, got a referral for a therapist and think that I am on the right track. It takes 3 months to finally get to talk to someone about my struggles, but the act of admitting there was something wrong was a great start. Unfortunately that feeling would’t last on it’s own.
I quit caring. I felt no passion, not a damn thing. I tried to fake it, but that pressure kind of snapped something inside me till I started thinking about dying.
I know, in my heart, that death is not the end and that something so much more is on the other side. I was pretty certain that it was better than what was going on with me and I started to plan. I wasn’t thinking about how to kill myself, I was figuring out how to make everything easier for when I was gone. Things like setting up automatic payments for bills, deep cleaning the house, figuring out who gets my stuff and generally leaving as little work as possible for those left behind. This was the scariest thing I’d ever planned, and still I felt nothing.
(I have to insert here that, from the outside, my life was pretty good. Inside and outside don’t always match)
This was going on for a while and though I was finally talking to a therapist, I wasn’t talking about my current state of mind. We were mostly trying to figure out what lead me to therapy in the first place. Then she brought up anti-depressants. Shit. Was I really there? Is this really something I need? I really hate the idea of taking something like that. I don’t think it’s the wrong decision, but it’s enough to get me to start thinking about what taking pills means for my life and not my death.
I had this thought that if things are really so awful then there is nothing I can do to screw it up. I could try anything and if it fails it wouldn’t matter because I’d only end up right back “here”. There is nothing worse than here, so trying something could improve things, or not, and that’s fine. I know here. I know this dark lonely place of apathy and depression. It’s not a great place, but at least I know what to expect. But what would I try? That answer needs time.
I took time off work. Talked with my husband and asked for a chance to breathe. I also got honest with my therapist and, because she’s no fool, she knew something was up. She called it suicidal ideation. We sat down and spent time figuring out what the path to this state of mind looks like for me. It was hard to start since it felt like this was coming on for a long time. I was slowly digging this hole for years, maybe. We had to find what I do/feel when I start digging and how to recognize that point so that I can put the shovel down. I want you to see my path down this hole and understand that it’s never just one thing, but the building of everything on top of me (or maybe you) that can lead to thoughts of, or actual, suicide.
- Overwhelm – Felling never caught up and having constant demands given to me, by myself or by others. Feeling unable to say no.
- Extreme Sensitivity – Tears or anger come easily and often, sometimes for no real reason. An emotional roller coaster.
- Detachment – Not caring and things that are important stop mattering. Sometimes this even looks like isolation.
- Apathy – Feeling little to nothing. If it wasn’t an extreme emotion, positive or negative, I couldn’t even bring myself to care, let alone feel anything.
- Suicidal Ideation – For me I was more passive about this. I thought about death or dying but didn’t want to kill myself. I was just readying myself and waiting.
I can see, now, the path that I was taking and the things that burden me. I feel like this is half the battle now. The knowing of something can show me the way, but now I must take the steps, however small, to feel just a little better. Vitamins, sunshine, friends and compassionate honesty with myself.
I ask myself everyday if the shovel is in my hand. If it is, how do I put it down?
I hope you can put yours down, too. Maybe someday it will get rusty from disuse.
P.S. I love you.