TRIGGER ALERT: Depression, suicidal ideation.
If the trigger label didn’t scare you off, please take a moment to center yourself before you read. This one is a doozy.
I haven’t opened anything up for registration for 2015.
Some of you might be wondering why. I have talked, a little bit here and there, in the classes I’m currently teaching about what I plan to do in 2015, but other than those brief touchings upon that are expected of an instructor as a class comes to a close, I did not, for the most part, blog about, Facebook about, or newsletter about 2015.
I made a deal with myself in June when I moved out of the house I’d occupied with my partner since 2004 that if things didn’t get better/if I didn’t feel better by the time my 2014 teaching schedule was finished at the end of November, I would permit myself to exit this world.
I know this is harsh to hear, and I’m sorry. It was harsh to feel, too.
It took me about four and a half months to disclose this suicide pact I made with myself to my therapist.
That’s 135 days of overwhelming pain, of self talk that went something like “It’s okay. It’s almost over. Hang in there ’till you’ve finished your work.”
I didn’t want to fail you. You were my reason for waking up every morning. My obligation to you was my anchor to this planet.
I know some of you are wondering BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR KIDS?
I was absolutely convinced that not only did they not need me, but that my presence in their lives made their lives worse. That is how awful and deep seated the depression was. That was how insidious my self talk was.
Things began to shift over Thanksgiving weekend. I was alone for the first time in a decade. I was inconsolable (and drunk) and if not for my friend, Laura, who heard the subtext in my decision not to go to a thing we were supposed to go to, I might very probably have popped a bottle of Tylenol with Codeine (which you can get over the counter here in Canada) chased by a bottle of Irish whiskey and killed my liver.
Laura showed up without warning and made me open the door because, having been there herself, she could hear what I wasn’t saying. My ex showed up not long after because I texted some very cryptic and frightening things that alerted him to the depths of my ‘not okay-ness’. Between the two of them, they glued me back together. They both extracted promises from me with regards to disclosing to my therapist.
I’m a promise keeper. They totally used that against me. I’m so fucking grateful they did.
I told my therapist that week and we began working on the old messages that were rising up in my body around how meaningless and empty my life felt in the aftermath of my break up.
We’re still working on it.
And I’m still struggling.
There are nights I wake up at 3 a.m. with intrusive thoughts and panic attacks and a very strong urge to off myself.
But I’m getting better.
I didn’t open registration for anything in 2015 because I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be here in 2015.
My depression, my desolation, the intrusive thoughts, the high levels of constant, bone crushing anxiety and grief were too heavy for me to carry. I knew I had a lot to be grateful for and a lot of people who loved me, but that knowledge did not touch the abyss swirling inside me. I was a walking black hole. Despite my very best efforts to look for the good, to remember what was beautiful, to create meaning, I was drowning.
I was a little bit honest about this in social media, but only a little and very infrequently. I was ashamed, you see, because I felt like a hypocrite. Here I was, preaching self love and care, and yet when I was alone, I wanted to completely and utterly self destruct. So I couldn’t tell you. I just couldn’t. I hope you’ll forgive me.
Sometime near the beginning of November, Facebook made me change my name. This might, on the surface, have seemed like a minor inconvenience, but it felt like a message from the Universe that, yes, it was time for me to go. My life had become a place in which I could not even use my chosen name. And then I realized that I’d lost all my ID and could not even apply for a name change until I acquired every single piece of ID – something that would cost me hundreds of dollars and who knew how much time. And then I got the flu. I spent one Friday night vomiting because I accidentally overdosed on Oil of Oregano in a misguided attempt to heal myself, and while a part of me was completely terrified that I would die that night, there was a part of me that was kind of hoping I would die. If I could die of this flu then no one would ever have to know how badly I’d wanted to die. I could check out naturally and no one would ever have to be pissed off at me for giving up. I could die without my last thought being “I’m so sorry I let you all down.”
I didn’t die, though. I stopped vomiting at 5 in the morning and texted my ex and I let him take care of me through the rest of my recovery. I took my prescribed medicine. I ate bowl after bowl of soup. I drank tea by the liter. I started to feel better.
I picked up my journal and I started to negotiate myself into sticking around. There were a lot of ‘if/then’ notes around what would have to happen to keep me here. There were rows of pros and cons. There were angry letters to myself about my sister’s suicide and how hypocritical it would be of me to inflict the very same pain my sister’s choice caused me on those who love me. There were love letters, too. To my inner child, whose desire it was to leave this place. She was the one with the pain too great to bear. She was the one with the body full of memories of violence and abuse and grief and loss.
I took her hand. I took her to therapy.
I’ve made a promise to her that I will never leave her.
I’m promising you, too.
I have come back to myself, and I want to tell you…
You saw me through. You didn’t know it, but you did.
I will be opening things for 2015 in the coming week and one of them is going to be a completely freely given gift of my time and energy in thanks for what you’ve meant to me in 2014. Stay tuned.
If you or someone you know struggles with depression or suicidal ideation, please find the number that is local to you here. Get help or find out how to help.