I’ve talked a little bit about my depression previously here. The whole story is just a tad too maudlin even for this whiny blog, really, but I’m going to unapologetically cram it into your eyeballs.
It was the darkest time of my life, and that includes the crazy shit I went through as a kid with a mentally disabled mother. I hated every minute of my life, hated that I had to keep getting up and keep doing stuff and keep pretending to other people that I was peachy. It probably wasn’t the best timing to be living on the 19th floor then.
I had vaguely considered suicide philosophically before and dismissed it as the coward’s permanent solution to a temporary problem. I almost slightly looked down on people who couldn’t tough it out, and who weren’t brave enough to just soldier on and see their problems through. I wasn’t doing this from a position of privilege, mind you; my childhood was pretty tough for a non-orphan, non-poor kid. Nevertheless, I grew out of it and became what I thought was an independent, successful woman despite it all.
Well, then the depression hit. The reality of being an unemployed wife in a foreign country hit. I could try to say ‘homemaker’ all I wanted but it was not what made the person in me happy (I enviously respect the women that are genuinely satisfied by this – it would be so much simpler for me). Maybe if I had had children, I could have kept myself so busy that it wouldn’t hit me, but it was too early for kids and truth be told I don’t think I ever want any.
I was trying to find work, but I was now the immigrant with no local experience. I was trying to please my husband by doing the things he wanted me to do, but it was never good enough, fast enough. I was talking to my college friends who were all successfully starting careers or furthering education. I was moving with my husband’s friends (men and women) who were all successfully employed with really fat salaries. I was the weakest link, the lame duck, the one smear weighing the intellectual profile down.
I think I was deeply depressed before I realised it had happened. I was frantically trying to figure out the things my husband wanted me to learn (and almost inevitably failing to do it satisfactorily), I was applying for hundreds of jobs and receiving the form rejections by the tonne, and I was constantly mingling with people who seemed to have perfectly typical lives, poised for personal success. I had failed some qualifying exams I had decided were the only way to get people to respect me. I wanted to kill everybody, and then I wanted to kill myself.
I was crying almost all the time by now. It probably wasn’t the best idea to do it on the balcony with the stunning view of Baker Street and the parks of West London. I climbed onto the wall, swung one leg over the railing, and just had to pull the other leg over to lose control and fall. At this point, however, I was hit with the paralysing fear of the height I was half standing at, half dangling from. I grabbed onto the rail with both hands, holding on for dear life and lay down on it, too terrified to move.
Then came the cackling.
I was in the middle of trying to kill myself, not entirely sure how I’d reached that point, and here I was grabbing onto dear life terrified of falling from the very height I was planning to execute said fall from. It really was a bit ridiculous, and my keyed up emotions couldn’t figure out how to deal with this absurdity other than through maniacal laughter. I slid onto the balcony, huddled up into a ball, and decided against ever attempting that again. I emailed a suicide helpline, started going to therapy and started exercising around the same time. It’s been 3 years.
I had come face to face with death, for the very first time, and I looked a bit of a fool for it. I realised I was terrified of dying, especially now when my life was meaningless and my legacy nothing more than a failed marriage. I was afraid of the finality of the nothingness that would have been my sticky end outside that building, and from then on I wanted to delay it as much as possible. I considered that maybe the people who actually go through with suicide attempts are either so overwhelmed by their highly wrought emotions that they don’t have the time to think it through before it kills them, or are incredibly brave for choosing death over life. It’s definitely not something I could do.
That said, it is still a very stupid thing to try. It is definitely not going to be easy to struggle through your life’s difficulties, not ever seeing things get better, but you aren’t even giving them a chance to improve if you off yourself now. It’s going to be great when I have a job that can support me, live in my own place with a pet dog or cat, and not have enough place to sit because of all the books strewn about. It’s going to be marvellous when I turn 50 and have my mid-life crisis, and look back and see how brave I was to just plough through my shitty life and my shitty moods and make it to where I got. It’s going to be amazing when I can have all the great sex I want and, maybe, find someone to guide me to greater heights of pleasure. None of this can ever happen if I kill myself now. I just lose at life if I do that, and I am not going to lose.