Reflecting On A Decade Since My First Suicide Attempt: Wisdom From The Stoics, Ted Lass, and My Relationship With My Depression
Ten years ago this afternoon, I attempted to kill myself for the first time. It was my first of two attempts (October 2017 in case you were wondering).
In many ways it was the worst moment of my life. It was rock bottom. It should have been the last day of my life. Ten years later, in a weird way, I see it as one of the best days of my life for the simple reason that it wasn't my last.
My depression's still a part me, but in a mostly admiring healed state. I've discarded the behaviors that come from it which do not serve me. The work to get to where I am is no small feat.
It's taken a lot of selfcare and Parts Work Therapy. Mental health doesn't take a day off. From 2012-2020, it was another fulltime job for me.
There's been three key pieces to getting to where I am today.
The first and most important has been therapy. Having a safe space to be honest, open, and vulnerable is the foundation of any mental health journey. More over, I needed coping mechanisms and behavior changes developed by a trained and experienced professional who knew my background. I never got on medication, but there were points where I was close.
The second is my relationship with my depression itself. Detangling what needs to be healed, what needs time, and what needs to be removed from my life has been a long progress. My depression, or rather my depressed self, will always be a part of me and my history.
The majority of him is recovered. Parts of him have been removed or moved on from. Marcus Aurelius had a great quote, saying "Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions, not inside."
I empathize with those parts of Depressed Matt. But they were not grounded in reality, healthy, or useful. It took years to identify those pieces and go through that process.
The last key to a decade of recovery has been my community. There was a great scene towards the end of this week's episode of Ted Lass (Season 3, Episode 9, "La Locker Room Aux Folles").
A character reveals something personal, vulnerable, and potentially controversial about themselves. The collective response is one of support, "we don't care," as in "it does not bother us. We don't see you differently. We support you."
Ted interrupts and adds on to the reaction in his own inimitable way, saying "we don't not care. We care very much. We care about who you are and want you must've been going through. From now on, you don't have to go through it all by yourself."
It was one thing for me to tell people I was depressed and planning to end my life. It was another thing for them to "not care" or judge. But really what mattered is nearly every person I've told has supported me and joined my team.
I alive and thriving today because at no point in the last decade have I been alone. I have no reservations talking about it publicly because of that. Furthermore, it's allowed me to "not not care" for every person who's ever confided in me about their mental health, ten years on and counting.