Extremely long story short; my brain is an asshole.
When I was 16, I lost a mentor to suicide. He was only 19 but seemed like he had the world under control. That was the only day of high school that I ever skipped class. We quickly formed a group, like a herd of bison circling their young in the midst of predators. Perhaps we thought that if there were enough of us, we could preserve the innocence in the middle of the circle. That whole afternoon we just walked around town and talked. I didn’t understand how someone so cheerful and with such promise could just disappear from this world.
My moment of understanding would come just a few short years later when I reached the fateful age of 19 and was coming back from class. I don’t remember what the class was but I remember the cold and unzipping my boots while sitting at the kitchen table in my overpriced university residence apartment. Many things have changed over the years but my penchant for zip-up leather boots has remained. My boots were unzipped but not kicked off and I just sat there. The only coherent thought that made its way through the fog of despair and fatigue was “I get it now”.
Suicidal thoughts have never really been about death for me. Unmedicated, the thoughts become my constant companions and I learned to treat them like a mosquito buzzing by my ear. My train of thought would go something like “I need to get bread, you should die, maybe eggs, just jump off a bridge, I think the milk is still good, you’d be so free”. Clinically these are known as intrusive thoughts. I just think of it as the first indication that my brain is trying to kill me.
The hardest part about depression is that there is no way to explain to people why you are sad. Things can be going well and there is still this black cloud enveloping everything I do. Thoughts of death become no more remarkable than the decision of what to eat for breakfast. Logically, I know that eating an entire pint of chocolate ice cream for breakfast is a poor choice and I would likely come to regret that decision. Even still, it didn’t mean that I am not occasionally tempted by the idea. I don’t want to die, I just want peace.
Before you become alarmed, I am ok. I have no intentions of doing anything rash. I’m lactose intolerant anyway, so eating ice cream for breakfast just becomes an awful idea. Putting words to paper removes the power held by whispers in the dark. I can see the black type on a white screen, therefor I can argue with it. It is important to remember that dealing with mental illness means fighting your own brain every single day. My brain happens to enjoy trying to kill me on a regular basis. Antidepressants fend off the worst of the attacks but there are still days where it feels as though someone unknown entity has crept up behind me a given me a solid wallop with a club of despair spiked with anxiety.
If you see my brain lurking in the shadows, tell it that it’s an asshole and to come back home. I’m going to go cuddle a puppy now.