It happened with a quickness that is still a little puzzling to me, and makes me think that it was some extended practical joke that was broadcast live somewhere in a European country where smoking is still considered sexy. Things were rough, for a bit—a crazy man and threats of having my dog put down, and money woes, always the money woes, and endless, neverending, eternal fucking winter—but there was Mexico! Sunshine! Sunshine in Mexico! I will be cured! And for a week I was the happiest thing in the land.
And then I came back to a happy cat and my clean apartment and was glad to be home, except that things started to feel inexplicably bad, and badder, and the worst, until a week or so later I was up out of my bed and googling “painless suicide” in my underwear.
Googling “painless suicide” will make you feel a little bit like a dipshit; it will also, probably usefully but not in the way that you hope at three in the morning in your underwear, not provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Which will also make you feel Even More Alone and really totally unclear about what to do next.
I’ve been depressed before, terribly so, can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed, wishing-it-would-all-go-away depressed, endless-fits-of-utterly-prone-and-snotty-weeping depressed, but I have never hit that sweet spot before, where you’re depressed to the very specific degree that you want to die, and can also still function adequately enough to make that magic happen.
Usually I am far too weighted down with woe to do anything about it. This active, go-getter kind of despair was a new one on me, and having the possibility, the option of a way out, was, luckily, flummoxing enough that I wasn’t entirely clear what to do with it. You mean I really could just, you know—stop? Quit? Flip over the board and storm off? Take my ball and go home?
(No one would miss me, and no one would care, and people would probably even be better off and why shouldn’t I? What’s stopping me? I was talking myself into it, even if it would hurt. It would hurt for just a second, right? Unless I fucked that up, too. Oh, look, a rabbit hole, back around the way we came, and two, and three, and four.)
The idea was appealing, and the appealingness of the idea was terrifying, and I spent a lot of time terrified of myself and what I could end up doing, if that makes any sense. I’ve done stupid shit before, in fits of impulsiveness. I could do the ultimate stupid thing from which there is no handy Ctrl-Z.
Luckily I am no good under pressure, froze up, and waited it out quietly. A flurry of wretchedness, of isolation, of something that felt like perfect clarity but was as muddled as simple arithmetic after a jug of vodka. Keeping a secret, keeping it all secret because I felt like a ridiculous teenager.
Eventually confessing to E. I am alone, and lonely, and isolated, and scared of what I could do. And the look on his face was like a punch in the gut. Sometimes you need the punch in the gut.
Clawing my way back, every step careful, conscious, calculated. Add in: vitamins. A walk. More water. A protein shake. Start answering the email that’s piled up. Send out a short story. Finish my book proposal, send it out; start writing again, even just the tiniest bit. And think oh, hey. That’s what hope feels like. Interesting.
Enough measured, deliberate mimicry of human behaviors, and eventually you become a human being again. Eventually you feel human enough to count, to take up space in the world and not feel like you’re wasting it. Eventually you’re the person you think of as you, again, and not the heaped-up pile of mistakes and errors and trash you started to feel like, instead. I can hang on for a little while longer. Especially if spring comes soon.
photo by Kruggg6.