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The Heaviness of My Depression Lifted, but the Suicidal Thoughts Remain

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.

“Suicidal people don’t want to die, they just want the pain to stop.” 

I’ve heard that saying countless times, and yet, it’s never really resonated with me. The two have always been synonymous in my mind. The only way for the pain to stop was to die. There was no other choice, no alternative.

But did I ever plead for the pain to stop. Curled up in the fetal position, in the corner of my bed, making myself as small as possible. Sheets aside, my sweatshirt sleeves drenched in tears and snot. Arm covering my mouth to stifle my cries as I begged for the pain to stop. The heaviness to lessen. The thoughts to still for just a moment. The intensity to lighten for just a second. There have been so many nights when that darkness swallowed me whole. 

For over a decade, that daily heaviness consumed me. But recently, since beginning lithium, the suicidal thoughts are less frequent and the heaviness isn’t there. It’s so much lighter. This is exactly what I wanted — what I spent so many nights pleading for. The hope I clung onto so tightly as a lifeline came. 

And still, I don’t want to be alive. 

It’s very odd to have felt such heaviness for so many years, and then for that to lift, but the thoughts to remain. Suicidal thoughts and urges without that deep ache in my chest and all-consuming exhaustion in my body don’t make sense to me. Even if I’m not in the pain I was in for so many years, I’m not happy. I’m not enjoying life. And part of that’s on me, I get it — I’m responsible for choosing activities and building my life around things I enjoy. But it’s hard to imagine enjoying anything enough that it would outweigh all the hurt and pain this world brings. 

The pain has lessened, and yet, I still don’t want to be alive. 

I don’t want to be here anymore. With the pain or without. But I don’t necessarily want to die, or at least, I don’t want to have to die by suicide. Killing myself scares me. A lot. I wish it didn’t, I wish I had less fear around it, but I’m scared. And that fear has largely been what has kept me alive for so long. I’ve attempted suicide multiple times, but none have resulted in any serious medical concerns. I’m too scared of the more lethal methods of suicide. I’m scared of messing up, of it not working, of the damage I could cause, of people finding me — I have so many fears. 

I don’t want to kill myself, I just don’t want to live. 

And yet, I know that fear exists in me for a reason. My therapist would argue that part of me is actually the part of me that wants to live. I don’t know if I buy that, but I know that part of me is the tether that keeps me here, alive. 

I want to believe I’ll feel happy again someday. I want to believe a dull sense of nothingness or an all-consuming heaviness aren’t the only two things I’ll ever feel. I want to be excited by something, I want to be able to see the future as a world of possibility instead of a lifetime of shackled dread. 

I suppose I had never stopped to consider what “stability” would feel like, probably because I didn’t believe I would ever make it there. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between feeling numb and feeling “normal” because I don’t know what a “normal” baseline mood feels like.

And to feel that, while having suicidal thoughts, is so abnormal to me. I don’t understand it. Is it more dangerous because less feeling is attached? Or less dangerous because of that? Does it delegitimize my experience? It’s so confusing to the point I’d rather take the heaviness back. I’m accustomed to the extreme — the soul-crushing, pounding weight of depression — consuming my days. Not feeling in extreme feels wrong. It feels boring, almost. And I know how much pain I was in, how much I wished that heaviness to lift. I shouldn’t want to go back to that. But that pain is familiar, this is not

I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t have answers or a clear solution. There’s so much unknown, so much confusion. Our struggles may not be the same, but maybe you can relate to the frustration of not understanding what you’re going through, either. So, I’ll leave us both with this quote:

“Your struggles are valid whether or not you understand them. Your pain is not any less real without a name.” —TWLOHA

Staying alive and continuing to write your story when you don’t want to and don’t understand is brave — and it’s enough.

And so are you.

Getty image by Olga Osipova / EyeEm


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