January 11, 2001.
A funny thing happened on my way to commit suicide.
I had been depressed, desperate, defeated, for as long as I had thoughts I remembered. I had finally given up on changing and made the decision that would bring peace to my life- by ending it.
I told everyone I was going home, that a change of scenery was what I needed.
There were no cries for help. I didn’t want anyone to stop me, as had happened before. I didn’t want to be convinced, again, that I could be more, better, that I could live and smile and be happy.
I complicated the process, of course.
I took my sister with me, caught in her own spinning wheels, I gave her a respite from dealing with her problems.
The truth is, I was hoping she would catch on, without a cry for help.
I hoped that she would see past my facade and we could say goodbye. I didn’t want to be saved, but I wanted to let her know that she mattered to me.
Her vision was blurred by her own desperation. She had a marriage to ruin, an addiction to commit to, she had a life to destroy, and my self-destruction was too cleverly disguised.
I was happy to take a trip with her, just the two of us. We sang and laughed and forgot that our regular lives were in shambles.
A stop in Phoenix to see our sister turned into one more thing I screwed up… Young and emotionally overcharged man mixes like napalm and dynamite with repressed married women (word to the wise- don’t get involved in other people’s escapes.)
On that night when we entered the apartment in Seaside, California I was all-go to say goodbye and swim away, maybe become a selkie off the Monterey coast, maybe become a lonely, wandering ghost in the fog of Lovers Point.
The funny thing that happened was ironically perfect, the universe reaching out to me through a set of fog-colored eyes, familiar yet strange, brand-new and long-lost-home in one glance.
I remember it quite clearly, these sixteen years later.
I was pissed.
Fuck me, I thought. Why now? After all these lonely years, there she is, sitting there changing all of my plans with a single look.
Our story is a good one. Romantic, sweet and seemingly pre-destined.
I’m working on telling our story in my next book (tentatively titled Hurricanes and Promises, coming later this year) and that will be there… A story for another day, as they say.
The thing about depression that I usually don’t hear, see or read-
It doesn’t go away. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not a literary device. It’s more treatment-resistant than cancer, and it’s more insidious than a decently-made ghost movie.
The trouble is, depression is not an invader. It’s not a foreign body doing damage.
It’s me. I am the perpetrator of the crime, and I commit the same crime, all day long, every day. I hurt myself and I hate myself and I damage myself.
And knowing that it’s me doesn’t help.
I can say, it’s me doing it, so I can stop.
I can actually stop.
For a week or a month or a year I can be kind to myself. I can love myself and praise myself and do what makes me happy and at the end of every day,
I’m still there. The ‘me’ that made me miserable. The ‘me’ that hurt me so much. The ‘me’ that is my enemy.
I’m not separating myself into two entities… I am the person that loved me. I am the person that hated me. I am both up and down, and no amount of talking or analysis or love will ever change the truth.
I didn’t want a reason, on that January night, to learn how to live with my depression.
I wanted an end.
I’m not bitching about finding love- I’m happier than I could have believed possible with my wife. She has made me a good man, she has lifted me.
But when the wind blows from the wrong direction, I still taste the metal in my mouth, the cyanide in my veins runs cold,
The end is always hanging around my neck.
It’s a little too easy to listen.
It’s a little too easy to believe.
Which leads me here…
To you, kind reader. If you feel what I feel, if you recognize the way my mind fucks me and you know what it’s like…
Choose to believe in the more difficult idea.
Decide to believe that you can get through.
Make a conscious effort to quiet that voice, that insidious and familiar old enemy that whispers your secret fears.
Climb back up that spiral, and enjoy the struggle. Realize that your strength is much more than you knew.
You can do this.