Content warning: Discusses themes of depression, bullying, suicide ideation and self-harm.
I wrote the beginning of this article in the midst of anxiety and depression. My heart was restless and my mind was a battlefield. But I wrote this in the hope to reach out. That even one person would hear me and maybe gain a better understanding as well as a glimpse of what living like this can be. Please note that this is how depression has presented itself in my life and that I do not in any way intend to generalise what this feels like for anyone struggling with anxiety/depression and/or suicidal ideation and/or thought of self-harm. Depression is like white noise- subtle, but always there. Growing louder and louder with every day, every minute, every thought until it is so intense that it seems to be yelling at you. So intense that you tell yourself you would do anything to make it stop- drown your sorrows in a bottle of Rosé, drown in a bathtub.
Depression is like screaming in technicolour yet seeing only grey.
Depression is like losing your senses. One by one your thoughts overtake the voices of your loved ones until all you hear is the voice(s) in your head echoing, ‘Why bother breathing? Why be a burden? Why take up space?’ until eventually you hear nothing anymore. The numbness in your aching bones translates into coldness of touch as you dry out, feeling starved of affection, of love, of purpose. Blurry vision substitutes focus as you cannot stand to read words, appreciate art, feel the sun, as it seems like the world has lost all its beauty. Depression is like screaming in technicolour yet seeing only grey. Like a colour-blind dog barking at pedestrians- pitied, yet ignored.
Depression blurs out the clear boundaries between functional and futile. It’s like seeing the razor that you use to get smooth skin and wondering what it would be like for the blade to pierce through more. And those pills, meant to restore health, falling out in excess, and thinking, even for a second, of how easy it would be to not put the required amount back into the bottle. These thoughts may or may not come. They may or may not seem extremely convincing at times. But that does not exclude the fact that they are real. That you feel them with every fibre of your being.
I felt like I didn’t have a purpose, that I was just another bad decision.
I first experienced depression when I was around eleven years old. My psychiatrist termed it a ‘major depressive episode’. I didn’t recognise it as depression at the time—don’t all kids hate living? I did, however, know I did not want to live. Well, if not my life in itself then the life I was living. In retrospect it was a mixture of factors—unrest at home, bullying in school, and personal battles. As an adopted kid, it’s easy to feel like a mistake. I felt like I didn’t have a purpose, that I was just another bad decision. To add to that, the class bully finding out and saying, “You’re so unloved even your parents gave you away,” doesn’t exactly boost the confidence of a pre-teen. Nothing I did to get back at them seemed to work, neither offence nor defence. My comebacks weren’t enough, lashing out wasn’t enough, and it started to get to me in a deep emotional way. I started experiencing what I now know is ‘suicidal ideation’—thoughts, considerations and/or plans of suicide. After months of crying myself to sleep, I decided that I had had enough. I remember walking to the kitchen in the middle of the night, tears flowing freely, fully intending to end the life God had given me. I picked up the knife. I’d made up my mind. And then, by divine intervention, I was convinced that I had something to live for.
And then, by divine intervention, I was convinced that I had something to live for.
Things got better. The process was slow but sure. On a recent reunion call, we all admitted that we had done things we weren’t proud of. We had multiple moments of apology to those we hurt. Though eventual, there was finally closure of some sort.
There is hope that there is more.
If any of this has resonated with you, I am sorry. I wish we didn’t have to go through this. But we are, we have. However, this is not the end—even though it may seem so. There is hope- hope for things to get better, hope for recovery, hope for tomorrow. There is hope that there is more. More than these feelings, more than this illness, more than what you’re feeling in the now. It took me a while to realise that. And sometimes it’s hard to remember. But that doesn’t make it any less true. My hope for you is that you would realise this as well. And remember it. Even in your darkest hour.