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Dear Depression: This Is How We Are Going to Look After Each Other

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

“I don’t really spiral as much as I go down a rabbit hole and can’t find my way back,” I explained to the psychiatrist who saw me the morning after I went to the emergency room. “I go down a rabbit hole, and I can’t find my way back, and lately, there’s too many rabbits and too many holes for me to even sleep soundly at night, and they’re long and dark, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way out of these holes. Is there any medicine that will fix that?”

We don’t look after each other very much, do we? I tend to ignore you in favor of work, and you tend to ignore me in favor of doing whatever it is you like to do — alternate between extremely depressed and extremely anxious, mostly. And I need to write something — anything — because I feel like I’m going “crazy,” and crazy sees like crazy does, and the only way to calm the voices in my head telling me I’m worthless is to write them down, prove to them I have talents bigger than talking bad about myself.

This is how it starts.

Someone asked me how I knew it was time to go to the hospital when it came to dealing with you, how I knew it was time to check myself into the psych ward (not the “loony bin,” as you like to refer to it). You like to refer to a lot of things incorrectly to make me feel worse about myself. But I’m not you. I’m not defined by you.

Anyway, how did I know it was time to go to the hospital for you? When the reasons to die outweighed the reasons to live, but all I wanted to do was live. When the help I was getting wasn’t enough. When everything I was trying wasn’t working and there seemed to be only one way out.

This is how it starts.

It’s 11 a.m., and I’m standing in the doorway of a pastor’s office, not sure if I should go all the way in or not, waiting for another to join us. As we have a seat, me in the chair closest to the window, thinking about suicide, Chris sitting in the chair on the other side of the table, feet on Bill’s desk, Bill behind the desk, I know they know something’s wrong. Something’s always wrong, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to you. I know they know because they’re looking at me differently. Heck, maybe I’m looking different.

“What’s going on?” They ask, politely, because they know I’m going to spill anyway, even though I try not to be a burden. I clear my throat as I stare out the window — why did I sit in the chair by the window? I guess I didn’t want it to look like I was planning my escape, so there I sit, in the chair by the window, feet curled up underneath me … maybe if I make myself smaller, I won’t have to have this conversation; this is fine.

My eyes start to well up with tears, because why not? This unsurvivable situation is unavoidable lately, it seems. Why do you do this to me? Why do I let you? I feel like I haven’t stopped crying for days, so what’s once more? Jessie; where’s Jessie? I can’t have this conversation without her knowing.

“I need to go to the hospital.” I choked on the words as they spilled out of my mouth. “I need more help than I’m getting.”

It starts like this, right this very moment. I’m sitting on the couch in my apartment, my dog curled up next to me. It’s Saturday, but I haven’t been to work in two-and-a-half weeks — unexpected personal medical leave.

It starts right here, right now, last night. I texted a friend to come get the alcohol out of my apartment because it reacts negatively with a new medication I’m on to deal with you, and I don’t want to be tempted. You will not tempt me, not today.

So, I ask her to come get the alcohol out of my apartment because if I’m going to fight, if I’m going to continuously do battle with you every day, I’m going to need to be at the top of my game.

It starts like this.

I don’t know how old I was the first time I wanted to die by suicide, but it doesn’t really matter. I was too young to know what suicide was. And it’s been too many years of fighting everything within me telling me to die. Too many years of looking at sharp objects, wondering if they’d hurt. Too many years of trying to wrangle rabbits by myself.

How long have I been depressed?

How long haven’t I?

It starts like this.

Right here, right now.

And maybe we can be friends now, you and I, because to give a name to the feelings you make me feel does not make them smaller, but it takes away their power. And today, the depression is bad, and yesterday the depression was bad, and such was the day before and the day before. But now I have a routine, you see — a set of instructions to help me survive the moments when I’m alone: write if you can, do yoga if you can, pet the dog if you can, do whatever you can to place one foot in front of the other, to keep breathing when all you want to do is drown.

We’re going to have to start looking after each other — me on your bad days, you on your good days, because there will be good days. And people are asking about the rabbits now; they’re a lot easier to catch when there’s a lot of hands.

Tell me about the rabbits. Depression is good for a lot of things: not showering for three days, harming yourself, keeping your thoughts to yourself, binge-watching Worst Cooks in America, not being able to watch anything at all. It’s not good for much else.

Tell me about the rabbits. We’re going to have to sit down and connect a lot more — you and me — practice self-care, meditate and become one. Because neither of us is going anywhere.

“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” — John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Photo by on Unsplash

Originally published: October 25, 2019
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