I am Suicidal.
It comes with the territory of having lupus and depression. I am not ashamed of admitting that there is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t think about suicide. I am not ashamed to admit that I have attempted suicide several times in the last 19 years. When it comes to talking about my life with lupus, I struggle with the words that I want to say because I’m so used to having to hide it and having to sugar coat it and be the kind of sick that somehow highlights the strength and determination of the human spirit and whatever other nonsense that makes people more comfortable with my illness and my inevitable death.
When I say inevitable death, let’s be honest. We’re all going to die someday and no one knows how or when, unless you happen to have lupus or any other disease that is incurable or has a high mortality rate. Then, you have a pretty good idea of what’s in store for you. For the last 24 years of my life, I have survived every death sentence that has been handed down to me. Despite all the complications and limitations that I have with my disease, I am still better off than others in the same situation. But I know that my luck will end and the pain and sickness will only progress until my body gives out. I know this because I see it happening with my aunt and my mom. They both have lupus as well.
My aunt, my mom and I have all thought about suicide because of our lupus. It’s hard to live with the pain and sickness that it causes, but it’s harder to live with the pain and hardship that it has on the ones we love. We are not blind to the fact that our illness takes a toll on their emotional well-being and that it creates financial hardship. We’re very aware of how hard it is on the ones we love and that just makes it so much harder for us to live with the Lupus. Now, I’m not saying we’re all going to commit suicide, but it is something that we’ve all thought about.
Although, it is different for me because I’ve attempted suicide. I’ve struggled with depression since I was about 15 years old. One of my friends, a person that I grew up with committed suicide and, shortly after, my grandma passed away. Those losses turned my world upside down. I can’t tell you the events surrounding my first attempt because I don’t know what made me snap. I didn’t plan it and as far as I remember, I wasn’t even thinking about it. What I do remember is that somehow I was standing in our bathroom and taking a handful of the nitroglycerin pills that my grandpa left behind when he moved to New Mexico.
Over the years, I’ve had several attempts and it’s something that I really struggle with because it scares me. All my attempts were impulsive and unplanned. I wasn’t thinking about it, but somehow I ended up doing it. When I read about Robin William’s suicide I stopped writing this and erased most of what I wrote as to lessen the amount of triggers that it held for me and that it might have held for others reading this. Why? Because when I read about his suicide it chilled me. No note, which means that it was something that he did impulsively and that’s something that people don’t understand about suicide.
Sometimes, it just happens and that’s what scares me the most about my experience with depression and suicide. It just happens and you never know when or what is going to cause your mind to snap. When it happens you’re not thinking about anyone else, you’re not even thinking of yourself. You’re just hollow, like everything you are is just suddenly gone and there’s nothing left but numbness.
Most days, I’m alone and most of the time I’m okay. Then, there are days when I wake up and I feel that numbness weighing on me and it terrifies me. Those are the days when sometimes I just cry or I’m doing something and it seems like minutes, but when I look up or away from what I was doing, I realize that I’ve just been sitting or standing there for hours doing nothing. Those are the days that scare me because I’m afraid that I will just slit my wrists, swallow pills or hang myself for no reason at all. The days when when I try not to talk to anyone or be around anyone because they take my fear and silence as anger or they look at me and I see sadness there because they don’t know what to do. Those are the days that are really hard for me, when I can’t be or even pretend to be okay around those I love.
So why pretend? Living most of my life with lupus and dealing with depression you learn that there are somethings you have to hide or leave unsaid for the sake of your loved ones. I think this passage from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars explains it perfectly.
“Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.”
I know some people, including family that reads this might be concerned, but they should also remember that this is me. I am a survivor and I can handle this as I do everything else that I have to deal with. I know that this is something that I will struggle with and fight for the rest of my life, but I also know that I’m pretty damn stubborn and I won’t stop fighting.
But I will say this……
If someone comes to you for help with depression or any kind of illness, I know that it is almost reflex to spout tiresome cliches about positive thinking, bible scriptures, “it’ll get better”, or “it’s all in your head”. Please refrain. Please, Please Refrain.
It takes a lot to admit when help is needed and when we ask, we are asking the one person in the world that we trust enough to see us at our weakest moments. We don’t need positive thinking, bible scriptures, empty promises or to hear what we already know because we’re aware that we have a mental illness, which means it’s in our head. We need you to listen and understand that at that very moment we are literally broken and don’t know what to do. You may not know what to do either and that’s okay because what we need is to know that someone is hearing us and that someone will just be there to help us get through it.
That’s all we need and it’s all you can do.
But the truth is that it doesn’t always get better.
We lose and it’s nobody’s fault.
We can, however, start trying to fight the stigma of depression and suicide. We need to make it okay for people to talk about it, to understand it and to be able to seek help and treatment. We need to stop saying that it is selfish, cowardly, sinful, and stop blaming those that are dealing with depression. We need to stop telling young people who are dealing with depression that they need to stop being dramatic. We need to stop telling those dealing with depression to “get over it” or that “they have nothing to be depressed over”. We need to stop viewing depression as a feeling of sadness because depression is not just a feeling.
It is a mental illness that changes your whole state of being, your personality, your behavior….everything. So, if someone says that they are dealing with depression…listen and know that at that moment you may be helping that person to save his or her own life.