What to Remember When You Feel Like Tearing Yourself Down
Last night, I rang in the beginning of World Suicide Prevention Day, well, sitting on the floor of my hotel room, feeling suicidal.
I’ve thought about killing myself quite a lot over the course of the past few weeks. It’s been a difficult time of transition in my life, and I’ve been frustrated with how I can never seem to escape overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. I’ve also been hurting deeply over a relationship very dear to me that seems to be dying, a longtime trigger point for me as I’ve faced a lot of rejection over the years. Everything is cumulative, and I think people often don’t realize how years of hurt can add up in a person’s life, making the small obstacles that come up unbearable. It’s been a long week, a long month, a long year, a long life. So last night, I had to spend three hours on the phone with a loved one so I wouldn’t give in to the desire.
To make a long story short, I’ve struggled with clinical depression since age 11 and no matter how many medications I try or therapists I go to, I can’t seem to escape it. I feel like my life is going nowhere. Relationships don’t work out. I almost constantly feel lonely and unfulfilled. As I was lying in bed last night I found myself wide awake, contemplating all this and more. Sometimes as a writer, I just have flashes of inspiration where the words for something just pour into my soul. That began to happen as I was about to delete a social media account where I post photographs of historic buildings. History is my other passion besides mental health advocacy, and I don’t often find the two intersecting, but suddenly I realized a parallel between those buildings and my life that helped me through at least that one difficult hour. So here it goes: Old buildings remind me that we as people are built to last.
We all have our place on the landscape. Some of us go mostly unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t belong there… or that someone won’t come along one day and see us and appreciate our faded trim and dilapidated siding.
Sometimes we feel like we’re too beat up and broken — floorboards buckling and water pipes busted — to ever be repaired or loved, but the reality is our wear and tear speaks to our character, hints at the unique story we have to tell.
Some people may want the shiny, new, pretty houses, but don’t forget that the ratty, quirky or plain ones often have the best stories to tell and are dearly beloved as well. We’re all built to last and we all have a place here, a unique design to represent on Main Street, a narrative to tell, a reminder of things now forgotten. You may never know it, but you may brighten someone’s day every time they walk past you. Losing any one of these magnificent structures is a shame because it seems like losing a story, a history of whoever it was that lived there. You have a place here, so don’t let anyone tear you down, including yourself.
I know the concept of considering killing oneself may seem shocking, dramatic, selfish and “stupid” to many people, but I think we all can relate to the concept of tearing ourselves down, beating up ourselves emotionally, putting too much pressure on ourselves, viewing ourselves in an excessively negative light. Whatever state of mental health you’re in, I hope you’ll give yourself a break tonight. Admit some things you like about yourself or celebrate even the small things you accomplished this week. Just know that you belong here and it would be terrible to lose you. Of course, I find it easy to tell others that, but hard to believe it myself. Unfortunately, sometimes nobody comes to our rescue to make everything better and life feel worth living. Sometimes staying alive is one foot in front of the other, finding one thing to look forward to or one person who you know would be devastated if you left them behind.
Early this morning, instead of deleting my social media page, I posted a version of the article above. It was difficult and a bit embarrassing, and I woke up today feeling uncomfortably vulnerable. I almost never tell people about my suicidal thoughts, much less broadcast them to strangers. But I think we need to raise awareness wherever we are and I wish I could see more people being open and vulnerable so we don’t have to bottle these difficult feelings up. I’m not sure how I’ll feel better, but I hope this little piece puts some positivity out in the world and maybe even speaks to someone.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
Follow this journey on my blog, These Dark Cafe Days.
Thinkstock photo via Wylius