“This chapter’s called “You’re Alive,” you’ve been writing it this whole time.”
I always feel awkward talking about my mental health, mostly because I was always told that nothing was wrong with me. I haven’t seen a doctor since I was eight years old and was never diagnosed with any sort of condition, so I was “normal.” It never felt that way, though. I was always unhappy, anxious and generally just a miserable person. I was told it was my own fault for having a shitty attitude and that mindset was plugged into me since I was a kid. I’m still not sure what exactly is wrong with me, but I’ve had a low opinion of myself for most of my life because I assumed all my shortcomings were due to me being lazy or just a terrible person.
There have been some periods where I’ve felt better, but this is generally how I’ve viewed things for most of my life. Whenever something went wrong I assumed it was 100% my fault and I had to fix it. I hated asking for help or talking about my problems. It wasn’t a trust issue so much as it was me hating asking for help because I assumed I was a burden to everyone and a waste of space. I didn’t have a lot of friends who I could be open with & making new friends was even tougher because I went into every conversation with the expectation that everyone immediately hates me. So I ended up keeping most of my thoughts inside aside from a couple of people.
Suicide was on my mind a lot when I was a teenager. I had a rough junior year of high school and went into the summer not planning to finish my senior year because I wasn’t going to be alive for it. After losing a few friends, getting into a car accident and being told I had no direction, I was just fed up & wanted to do everyone a favor. I’m not sure why I didn’t follow through with it, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t have some big intervention or anything like that, I just didn’t follow through with what I had planned to do. I thought I was over the hump, but those thoughts came back a few years later and I found myself in the same spot at the end of 2011. This time I was in full planning mode for most of November & December and I was going to take “the world’s longest nap” after my semester was over. I found out that one of my good friends who I had a falling out with died earlier in the year & this on top of being overworked that semester had me at a total breaking point. I was inches away from ending it all before I talked myself off the ledge (literally) and I told myself I wouldn’t let anything like this happen again.
Fast forward to the end of 2013 and I found myself in the same situation yet again. I was certain that 23 would be my last year and it took a few people reaching out to me when I actually asked for help to break me out of this hole. It didn’t seem like much to them, but it mean the world to me at the time and I kind of turned my life around after that, at least from a professional standpoint. I built a career for myself & had a job I enjoyed but I still felt miserable on the inside. This is how I’ve always operated and I’ve had to live with it forever. Even when things are going well, I feel unhappy about something so you can imagine how I get when things start to fall apart.
That’s exactly what happened over the summer. A few bad things happened over the summer and I let myself fall back into a dark place again. My plan this time was to work myself into exhaustion until my body just gave out. I always had this belief that I was living on borrowed time and the only thing keeping myself from finishing the job on the last few attempts was that my body wouldn’t let me. My mind was in the gutter but my body was too strong to follow through with doing something that I know was a terrible idea. My plan was to get rid of this problem by not taking care of myself at all. I went through week-long periods of not sleeping or eating so that my body would shut down and I was at the mercy of my darkest thoughts. All that really happened in the end was me falling asleep & shutting down for a few days, but the process kept repeating itself for months. It took a vacation at the beginning of September to keep me from going further & that pretty much saved my life.
The thing about all of this is that I wasn’t alone through any of this. I met my current girlfriend during this time period & she is the best thing that ever happened to me. I also know I have people who are willing to listen and who want to see me stick around. It’s just when you’re neck deep in a pile of shit that you created on your own, it’s hard to see that. You feel worthless, like a burden and that you don’t deserve to have people who care in your life. Sometimes you don’t even want the help because you don’t see yourself making it through the end of the month. That’s basically where I was.
I thought getting rid of myself would be doing people a favor because that’s honestly how my mind feels some days. It’s never the truth, though and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if I keep thinking this way. My mind hasn’t been in the best shape but there was always a part of me that kept telling me to stay “one more day” every evening because I know I have more to offer. It takes a lot for me to realize that and it’s not fun but if people are going to pull for me, the least I can do for them in return is fight back. Even on the mornings where getting out of bed to take a shower feels like the toughest thing in the world.
Those days have been happening more frequently than I would like, but I always remind myself that I’m not alone and I have to show some initiative to make things better. I’m not on the other side of this, but I’m staying here and plan on keeping it this way, regardless of what my mind tells me on the worst of days.