You’re not going to believe me when I tell you but last summer I wanted to die.
I didn’t have a plan or attempt it at any time but a small, unreasonable piece of me thought this world would be better off if I was gone.
The feelings I was having last year in the middle of my favorite season were crude and disruptive. They made it hard to sleep or smile. But I did, I smiled even as the voices inside my head told me how unworthy I was, what a horrible person I had turned out to be and there was no quieting them. I would cry into my pillow, I would sit on the couch and watch the world go by. I would dream of my funeral and wonder if anyone would miss me, if anyone would even bother to show up.
I was disheartened and depressed.
Sadness had come and gone and left a lousy house-guest sitting in the middle of my chest that said awful things to me, ruined my furniture and self esteem and made itself at home in the deep corners of my mind.
I was down in the mire and fought every day to claw my way to the top of the pile, to laugh with other people and hide the darkness that threatened to engulf me.
And some days were okay and livable and some days were not but like so many of us are sharing our feelings after the news of the suicide of Robin Williams,I was ashamed of my sadness.
After all I was everyone’s cheerleader and unconditional supporter and I felt like I had no right to be upset or sad, or even if I did, I needed to get over it and move on with my life. Our society has no room for rumination or regrets that swallow us whole.
So I played the part I have perfected, that of consoler, bridge builder and optimist, never letting on how much I was hurting.
I had felt this way before, most recently during the four hellish years of our infertility. I learned to force smiles, bury pain and fake my way through the days. But once the boys were born and I narrowly escaped PPD I truly believed I had no right to have bad days.
I was lucky.
Even after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and complex migraines I knew I was lucky to have healthy, happy children and a diagnosis where my disease wasn’t debilitating.
I had a husband who loved me, the sons I had prayed for and family/friends/ villages who reminded me often how much I meant to them. I was working in a time when so many other people had lost their jobs and I had a home, a car and a very cute dog.
Can you hear those voices?
“You have nothing to be unhappy about.”
So I sank deeper into the pit because now I was obviously ungrateful.
“Don’t you know how lucky you are?”
I hated myself and I hated feeling so helpless in my quest to change my thinking.
The only person who heard this secret was my husband last autumn and after the fact when I believed I was past the worst of it and had changed my medication, somewhat settled my mind and put one foot on the path to self forgiveness.
And then Ben died.
Ben, who was bright and talented but who had his own demons; my baby brother who had battled against the bottle and the sweet sirens of drugs in his young life, Ben who had been spiraling, sad and we didn’t know.
So bad genetics and depression took him away from us and I waited, again, for it to find me.
But I also knew I needed to take care of my family who were reeling from his devastating death. I needed to keep watch over my mom who had now lost a child and my sister, my mind still haunted by her own failed attempt to leave this world decades ago.
We were lucky to be alive, lucky to be survivors.
Once again I reminded myself there was no time or reason to be sad.
And yet I was, because even the sadness was genetic.
It started slowly, an anxious moment here or a mild panic attack there until I felt myself slipping backwards into the darkness.
It is an endless battle.
Day by day, I fight against the constant ache of my fibro; a slight headache always threatening to become fierce and the stress of everyday living, to be better.
I have bad moods and selfish moments and crying jags that leave me breathless but (thank God) I haven’t thought about dying once.
Instead I try…
To see the good.
To know there is no easy way out.
To be a wife to John, a mommy to Giovanni and Jacob, a sister and a daughter, a friend, a flawed but happy human being.
I am taking my medication.
I practice gratefulness in every way I can.
I reach out when I need to, I say the words “I’m not okay” and I allow people to help me.
Because there is no coming back, there is no alternative or plan B if I don’t.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.