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How My Friend Kept Me Safe in the Darkness of Suicidal Thoughts

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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.

Lately, my depression has been heavy, my suicidal thoughts have been incessant and every day feels like a battle. My nights have been captured by insomnia once again as I plead with my brain to stop. Depression has left me unable to get out of bed and my days feel long. There’s not enough caffeine in the world to cure this kind of exhaustion.

I thought I was past this. I wish I was past this.

And as these days have become more frequent, I’ve been feeling more alone than usual. I know, logically, I am not alone. I know I have incredible friends and roommates and people who care about and love me. But as the sun goes down and the darkness comes out of hiding, feelings of loneliness consume me. And in the midst of suicidal thoughts and the crushing weight of depression pushing me down, loneliness feels like the last straw.

Last night was the worst it has been in a while. After church and getting coffee with a friend, I was feeling alright. There was no reason for depression to creep up and sneak in. But, that’s just the thing with depression: it doesn’t need a reason. So, the depression hit, and it hurt, but fighting it throughout the day is different than fighting it at night. As my roommates all went to sleep, I found myself crying at the table, trying to finish some homework. As I closed my laptop, the tears continued falling. I was praying with all I had for this to stop.

As the clock ticked and it got later and later, I didn’t feel safe. I went to text a friend, but guilt overrode me and I deleted the text before I could send it. I did this three more times over the course of several hours before finally texting her, asking if she was up. When she responded she was free, I told her what was going on. She texted me back, telling me it was worth it, that she was on her way home and asked if I wanted to spend the night, assuring me we didn’t necessarily need to talk or anything; I could just have her as company.

As tears fled down my face reading her text, I silently thanked God. I felt bad, but I also knew I needed to just sit with someone, even if just for 20 or 30 minutes. I apologized and thanked her. I moved from my room to the couch in our living room as I waited for her to tell me she was home. When my suicidal thoughts are screaming, I feel much safer in a more open room than enclosed in my own. As I lay on my couch, I went to text her that it was OK, I’d be fine and she could just go to sleep. I felt like a burden. I felt so bad. I didn’t want to bother her. She has been there for me so much lately, and I felt so ashamed and guilty. I knew she would never tell me that, but I secretly convinced myself that must be what she thought. But as she texted me she was home, there was some part of me that still cared about my well-being. I took my keys and found myself walking to my car. As I parked at her house, I considered turning around and going back so many times. But at this point, I knew I needed to just go in.

As I walked in and she pulled me into a hug, as burdensome as I felt, I knew this was the right decision. We sat on her couch and she turned on “The Office,” and then asked if I just wanted to sit, if I wanted to talk or do something different — she told me she was there for whatever I needed. I could feel my anxiety overtaking me, and I was unable to find words. As she turned the lights off, tears silently fell down my face. I felt safe. I felt loved. And if there’s anything my suicidal thoughts hate more, it’s me feeling safe and loved.

I wanted to tell her. I wanted to explain. I wanted to thank her. I wanted to apologize 100 times. And the more frustrated I became with myself for not being able to do any of those things, the more I hated myself. Finally, after two episodes, I managed to get the words out, “I just wish it wasn’t this hard.”

She paused the TV and we started to talk. I was still struggling with verbalizing my thoughts and there was still so much I didn’t know how to tell her, but it meant the entire world to me to sit with her and talk for a little. As we said goodbye and I drove back to my apartment, I felt bad. I was angry at myself for keeping her up, but I also realized how much I needed that. I still don’t think she realizes what that meant to me.

In the midst of such darkness, sitting with someone can make all the difference. If you can relate at all, I hope you can find it in you to send that text or call that person when things get to be too much. I hope you have a friend like mine. But I’m also not ignorant to the fact not everyone does. So, to the allies and people out there who think one of their friends may be struggling, I ask you — I urge and beg you — to reach out, to fight through the discomfort and awkwardness, to check in on them and offer to be there. You just might save a life. I know my friend saved mine that night.

Photo by Mascha Kathalena on Unsplash

Originally published: March 16, 2020
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