12 MAY - 2019
I’m working on understanding my mind rather than changing it, figuring out how to live with the visitors and white noise.
When I think about Brayden, I still feel the void. My heart and soul feels empty and dark. Everytime I feel like I want to move on or forget the pain, my brain starts to react. Part of me wants to get over it, to understand and be happy, to not feel selfish about how much I miss him, because this wasn’t about me, it was about him and his suffering. Then I start to feel guilty that I am forgetting him - how could I forget something that was everything to me? As soon as I ask for these feelings back, they flood back in. I’m fighting with myself constantly. When will I be ready to let go? Three years? Four? It’s been over two years and it still feels like yesterday. When will it stop feeling like I’m holding back an ocean with just a sieve?
To be honest, I just want to die. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts on a regular basis. Does it mean I am going to take action on these thoughts? No. Perhaps, I will one day, when I lose my line completely, but I hope it won't be anytime soon. The thing to remember if you don't understand this, is that today I could be feeling absolutely incredible and even if my demons show up I know I’ll win todays battle, but tomorrow is a new day and requires a different level of strength. It may not be enough. This in itself is enough to question if continuing my life is worth it.
Following my story about what it’s like to be on the other side of suicide, I felt like it was time to share my personal battle with depression as it’s a common mental health issue that countless people suffer from. You are not alone. I had depression before I lost him, so I was lucky to have some understanding of the residual effects it had on my depression and anxiety, but it sure as shit didn't make it easier. It gave me the push I needed to go out and learn more about this so i can manage it appropriately.
What kind of diet are you on? Did you know that your diet affects how your brain functions? Most people only have depression because they hang out with people who make them depressed, maybe you just need new friends? Did you know bananas are a natural antidepressant? Have you tried antidepressants? Do you run everyday? What do you even have to be depressed about?
Some people may have the type of depression where the above questions could help, but most of us have tried all these things to no avail. Think about it like this, if I could fix this issue, don't you think I would have already? If it was as simple as going for a run and eating an apple, don't you think everyone would be doing it?
The way I like to explain what it’s like to live with depression is this - imagine it’s the hottest day of the year and you’re having a great time out with your friends at the beach and everyone is laughing, running around and having a jolly great time. It’s the ideal day, right? Or whatever your ideal day looks like - picture that. Sounds lovely, right? It is - except you have a stalker. He’s an awfully sweaty, disgusting thing that follows you EVERYWHERE, and I mean everywhere. From the bathroom, to the shower, to work, to socialising, to even hanging out with family or your significant other. He (or she) is a creep who hangs around in the background, not always joining in, but always present. Like a bad smell that lingers in the air, and consumes your mind with nothing but that stench. The catch is, no one but you can see him. So do you tell people and risk sounding like a crazy person? Or do you just deal with it?
Now if you grew up in New Zealand, you will know exactly what I am talking about when I mention the itchy, thick woollen blanket that every kiwi household has had at least two of. You’re at the beach on this perfect day and all of sudden, he decides to smother you with his thick, heavy blanket. So now you’re just out there on the beach trying to have a good time with this monumental fucking weight suffocating you. It makes you look ridiculous, it emanates this smell, the worst smell you could possibly imagine, and it’s SO HEAVY. Its weight is monstrous and no normal human could get this blanket off without a struggle.
Because of this creep, your day has been ruined. This blanket is so overwhelming. It’s so hard to focus and it’s impossible to remember a day where you didn’t have the blanket drowning you or your stalker hanging around. Your days start to feel like more and more of a drag and you think he’ll fuck off one day, taking his blanket with him. Alas, every morning when I wake up. He. Is. There.
He hides in the shadows of your mind, waiting for you to let your guard down. Then he shows his demon face when you’re at your weakest and too tired to fight. He’s here to drown you. No matter where you run to, he will find you. No matter how happy you think you are, he will try and ruin it. Feeding off your every impending negative thought. If you don’t let him get you down, he whispers his adaptation of sweet nothings in your ear.
No one loves you. You’re ugly. They all think you’re dumb. They all think you are negative. They all hate spending time with you. Just jump. Just hang. Just cut them up. Can you even feel anyway? Might as well help people around you by removing their biggest burden, you.
You met this stalker when you were younger. It was hard to understand or comprehend what he was doing there, why he had chose to tightly grasp hold of your mind and infest your every thought. Who am I now? He’s been with you through almost everything, and sometimes you enjoy his company even though you hate the thought of it. After a long day of working and trying to run away from him, you’re so tired that it feels nice and somewhat comforting to lay around and drown a little in his blanket. I can’t stress how rare this situation is, but when he’s been around for so long, it’s like ‘fuck it,’ right? Why fight? It’s the same as an old injury. You know it’s there, but it doesn’t hurt all the time. And you don’t always hate that you were or are injured, you just deal with it.
When life gets really challenging and genuinely depressing shit happens to you, it’s hard to not just give in to his constant nagging. The idea of walking off into the wilderness with his blanket draped over your slumped, defeated shoulders is enticing. Alike to the thought of monsters under your bed constantly clawing at your ankles. It feels so natural to just give in to him, to the demons, and just take the easy path out. I mean, he tells you everyday that you’re worthless and he constantly coaxes you into the idea of sweet relief. No one would miss you anyway.
What to remember at this point is, for many people this is a forever thing. There is no ‘end date’ for depression, there is no cure and there isn’t a clear cut path on how to deal with it. But for a little understanding, and for this story, imagine you’re an old woman, holding your brand new grandchild. She’s beautiful - all smiles and giggles, she smells so cute, like a baby should. You and your beautiful family are having the loveliest of days and then, you see him. The little ass-hole is still following you! For fuck’s sake. I’m 65 years old, can’t you just leave me alone already?! He laughs, and throws the blanket on you. As you hand back your granddaughter to your own child, you sit there quietly contemplating another year of this. To keep fighting? Or to let go...
Here come the thoughts - should I just give up? I mean there is no way I can kill him. No one truly believes or understands that he IS real, and he is there ALL THE TIME. You feel like a broken record at this point talking about it. You stopped talking about it when you were 28 years old. You stopped sharing your feelings about this guy because it gets old, right? ‘Oh God, not again,’ they think to themselves, ‘she’s clearly delusional.’ At what point do people start understanding? I prefer to surround myself with other depressed people because they get it. They don't act like you need to go into a home everytime you say you want to die. They feel it too, their stalker may look a little different, or give them more breaks, or he might even be fun occasionally, but he is still there.
You’re just a negative person, you should just be happier, have you tried going for a run? It will make you feel better, I promise! Just try it! Try meditation! What about talking about it? Have you talked to someone, or tried antidepressants?
Now the thoughts of death that come during the dark times aren’t there always, and they aren’t always suicidal and they are different for everyone. Some people’s stalker follows them around and makes them feel so much pain it all fades into nothing, so they feel the need to physically hurt themselves to make sure they are still able to feel and confirm they are alive. Some people feel the pain so much that they choose to push that pain on others and they themselves, become bullies. There are also people who can completely control their stalker - they have mastered techniques to push him from the forefront of your life or mind.
Hell, some stalkers are sicker than most and only show up when you’re at your darkest point. Professionals call it “situational Depression” and will try and tell you that it's not permanent, or it's nothing to worry about. “You'll get over it,” they say. But depression doesn't work like that. You still need to give it the attention it deserves to make sure he doesn't decide to stick around. What works for me is trying to focus on the fact that he is separate to me. I don’t really want to die, I don’t really hate everyone or myself - that’s just what he wants me to think. Do not let it win. Do not let yourself down by believing what your depression wants you to think!
My stalker may be unique to me, but it’s not just me who has one. That’s one super important thing to remember - YOU ARE NOT ALONE. So many people have depression. There is no way to compare them. It doesn’t mean your depression is nicer or theirs is meaner, it just means we can all be there for each other to deal with these horrible and horrid depressive stalkers. If you’re struggling, I would recommend talking to someone you trust. Someone who knows you and is willing to help, but don’t expect them to be able to help in the way you may need. It is important to remember that this is a mental illness, and not all our friends are qualified for this type of support. If you can’t talk to someone or feel like you don’t have anyone, talk to a professional. There are plenty of places to go for free or if you’re lucky enough to have financial support to deal with this, then go and see someone. Remember, it shows real strength to show your darkest side and actively work on it. Not many people can even admit to themselves that they are depressed or anxious, but it’s real. You deserve help and support, and don’t let anyone tell you anything else.
Image Credit: Dead Face Comics