Two years ago today, I almost died. I wanted to die. I didn’t.
When I realized two weeks ago I’d be flying alone—all day—on this anniversary date, I panicked. Alone? All day? Not great.
When I realized this particular November 9 fell the day after what I knew would end up a tumultuous and dramatic election night, I panicked again. I didn’t know the outcome of the election, but I knew, no matter what, the nation would have big feelings today. I knew I would have big feelings today.
Big feelings are scary on suicide anniversary dates.
A lot has happened since that scary night. My doctors and therapist worked together to find a medication cocktail that works for me. It’s changed a few times, as recent as last month when they changed up my sleeping meds as they no longer put me to or kept me asleep. The lack of sleep negatively affected my moods and motivation, causing another bout of depression. I feel mostly okay again.
I worked hard with my therapist to get at the heart of some issues. Do you know how much that sucks? All the sucks. I greatly prefer burying and ignoring my feelings, thankyouverymuch. I would also greatly prefer to help you through your hard time, to hold your hand through your darkness than ever ask anyone, even my own husband, for support. Which was one of the core problems, of course: I didn’t believe I was worth anyone’s effort, not even my own.
Nowadays my anxiety goes up and down, depending on what’s going on in my life. I’m on a plane, so it’s up. Yesterday I played with Baby Jack for two hours, so it went down. I manage it as best I can. Some days I fail, but I always know there’s another day.
I didn’t realize that two years ago.
In an attempt to avoid today’s news, I looked at my Facebook memories and Timehop while waiting for my first flight this morning. I didn’t do that last year. Last year, I was just happy to be alive. This year I felt curious as to what that day looked like two years ago.
It made my stomach hurt.
Of course, if you look back at the months leading up to this date in 2014, it’s easy to see—with hindsight—what was coming. But no one knew, not even me. Yes, I lost both of my grandmothers in quick succession. Yes, my doctors couldn’t find a proper meds protocol and kept messing with doses, new medications, and lapses. No, I didn’t tell anyone how deeply I struggled every day; Taurus stubborn is the most stubborn.
But that day I shared how I felt like a failure due to something that happened the day after my maternal grandmother’s funeral. I remembered, prior to reading that post, that one woman lashed out at me with hateful words, telling me to get over it and stop posting such negativity.
That’s all I remembered. The negativity. The judgment. How I was wrong, other, off.
What I saw when I looked back today were 32 comments from 32 people who recognized something wasn’t quite right with me, even if they didn’t understand the full extent. Each of those 32 people left a comment of hope. Many replied with variations of “be kind to yourself” or “be gentle with you.”
One friend left this image comment.
I wish I had been able to see how much my friends loved and cared for me that day. Instead, all I saw was the dark black of my depression. I could not see anything good about myself, about my parenting, about my relationships, about the world. I felt as though everyone in my life would not only survive without me but thrive without me.
It took longer than the Emergency Room visit, the three day hospital stay, and the following year to recognize those as flat out lies depression whispered in my ear. I believed those lies. Letting go of beliefs, even when they’re lies, is really, really hard.
The past few months have felt difficult. I’ve mentioned the sleep problem. I’ve written about people being unkind. I haven’t written about some other things, because finding words for everything going on proves difficult right now. Some stories aren’t even mine to tell though the rip through my core. I’ve done the very best I can do. Sometimes that means going back to bed after the boys go to school; sometimes it means doing all the things just so I stay busy. Sometimes that means running; sometimes it means not running. Sometimes it means surrounding myself with friends; sometimes it means holing up in my house.
I still deal with intrusive thoughts, but not suicial ideation. The difference? I can recognize the thought as unhealthy, understand it as a brain flaw, and never want to act on it. They’re still awful though, and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. It sucks to have your first—very first—thought of the day be, “I wish I were dead.” It’s difficult to drive down the road and think, “Well, if I hit that tree…” But I let the unhealthy thought come and then go, and then I go about my business. Deep breath in, exhale it all out.
I didn’t tell anyone about what happened two years ago for a long time. When I wrote about it, I didn’t share it in my own space. I felt ashamed. I felt less than. I felt as if my struggle would make people walk away.
And some did.
But those who stayed? They made all the difference.
I share all of this today for a number of reasons.
1. I really just wanted to get through today. And not sharing felt harder than sharing.
2. I know some people are feeling hopeless today. I did for a bit last night. I went out and sat on the porch and breathed in cool, rainy air. I came inside to a slew of messages, once again, from people who love and care not just for me but for humanity. There’s hope, people. In each other.
3. I’m feeling kind of over not saying things or staying silent because someone might not like it or not want to be my friend or might judge me or whatever else. If you don’t like me, there’s the door, sweetheart. I will never demand anyone stay in my life. If you don’t want to be here, please go. (Three months ago, I couldn’t have added this third part.)
Today I’m on my way to California. I didn’t want to leave my family behind, but my life now involves all sorts of new challenges and adventures. I’ve practiced deep breathing, set intentions, and generally forced myself to stay present in the moment. I’m looking forward to the next few days.
All of this is progress after that deperate night two years ago.
I feel proud of the progress I’ve made. I understand that the struggles I still face do not define me; I am complex and beautiful and intelligent and successful and flawed and doing the best I can with what I’ve been given where I am in this moment. I hope that sharing my story will help others for the connection between humans is the only reason I’m still here, and for that I am grateful.
I am grateful to be here.