What It Feels Like to Lose the Will to Live
Losing the will to live is not always standing on a ledge. It’s not always being in crisis mode (for me anyway). It’s a dull ache in my chest that weighs me down constantly. I might laugh or appear normal, but that ache to disappear is there, underneath.
• What is Bipolar disorder?
Sometimes I give up on life because everything in my day-to-day a fight. I’m just too tired, angry or depressed etc. to fight anymore. Sometimes I just don’t want to fight anymore for no particular reason other than I’m just done. I obsess over that thought constantly, I’m just done.
When I feel that way I don’t always think of my loved ones. I don’t want to hurt my loved ones, but it feels like I can’t fix anything, so what’s the point of existing if I’m just making it through? Nothing makes me happy. I often forget what joy feels like and all I want to do is curl up and not exist. Sometimes I get a break and the feeling hides. The feeling is always there, but it’s not on the front burner. Physical pain triggers me most of all, second I think is lack of sleep. I am often in chronic physical pain (endometriosis).
Sometimes I need to talk, but I know the people I love aren’t equipped to hear the morbid things I think even if I don’t mean them. Sometimes just vocalizing things helps and sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes the people I love invalidate me without meaning to because they don’t understand mental illness or my particular manifestation of it. When everything is a fight the last thing I want to hear is, “You are not doing enough.” I am doing my best, it’s all I have.
I have tried everything I know to try already. I’ve been to groups, tried medications, diet, exercise, thinking positive, hot baths, religion, regular counseling, self-help books, dietary supplements, crystals, Reiki, meditation, yoga, teas, petting cute animals, distracting myself in all sorts of different ways. I’ve tried combinations of all those things and plenty of other things that would take too long to list. At 30 years old I am tired, I’ve been at this since I was 10 years old.
Sometimes getting out of bed is a struggle on all levels of my being. It’s a resistance to life itself. Half of me has laid down to die and the other half that is in survival mode has twice the load to carry. I want to die but I’m afraid to. I want to live but it hurts. People don’t always understand that — they often think I want to be the way I am or I’m taking the easy way by being on social assistance.
I’d be rich if somebody gave me a dollar for every time I heard, “Man I’d love to be on disability and lay around all day.” Nobody wants to be like that. If you’re not high functioning chances are you battle fear, anger and depression deep in your being on a daily basis. Chances are you’ve had your fears confirmed enough times that a phobia might develop. Nobody asks for that! There is a major difference between plain laziness and a real social phobia or other form of mental illness that prevent you from going out.
I often hear, “I don’t have time to be depressed.” I don’t decide to pencil in two hours of crying hard, two hours of uncontrollable rage with a period of “normal” in-between up and down mood swings after lunch. This isn’t my choice. I’m tired of people thinking it is. Yes, you can choose to be more positive when possible, but I am not always in control. I can’t positive think my way out of this. But I don’t view myself as a victim. Nobody did this to me, it just is what it is. I do my best to change the things I can change.
Being bipolar isn’t who I am. It’s not my passport, but it’s a huge chunk of the reasons I do things. I know myself well enough to know certain things will trigger me, some things can’t be avoided, I know that. I make appointments and get myself to them. I pay my bills and do what I need to, but that’s about all I have in me most days.
Most of the time when I get advice it’s well-meaning, people care and they want to help, but sometimes you can do more damage by giving unsolicited advice. Unless you are a trained mental health professional, you likely aren’t qualified to give mental health advice. Don’t presume to know more about somebody and their manifestation of an illness. Everyone is different! You are not the one residing in the brain and body of that person. You cannot and will not ever know the core of their being, nor is it your place to decide it is your business.
Hugs or whatever the person is comfortable with is great. Asking, “What can I do to help?” is a truly wonderful thing! It gives me an in to say I need help without feeling like I’m being a burden. Sometimes the answer is nothing. Sometimes just watching a funny video or being there without needing to talk helps. It doesn’t fix it, but it doesn’t hurt either.
A lot of people with mental health issues don’t reach out because people often say, “So and so’s just trying to get attention.” Well yes and no. I often really need somebody, but I’m scared to say anything because I’ve been invalidated or people will think I’m too “dramatic” or “sensitive.” Sometimes when I do muster up the courage to say something, it’s a cry for help that goes unheard.
I can say for me personally, feeling out of control is scary, and feeling out of control in front of someone else is terrifying. That can be anything from crying to being overexcited. I guard my outward flow emotions fiercely, so if I’m emoting in front of someone, it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on inside. Even as I type this, I’m debating on deleting this because I feel embarrassed to admit feeling this way.
I’m not asking anyone to take care of me, walk on egg shells or make themselves available 24/7 just to talk. The last thing I want to do is upset or inconvenience anybody in any way. I am not asking for anyone’s sympathy, likes or shares. I want people to understand that mental illness is different for everyone. We don’t all fit into little boxes that certain medications cure. Mental illness is messy, it’s frustrating and often feels like a losing battle. I can’t speak for everybody with mental illness, I can only speak for me.
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 “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
Thinkstock photo via JZhuk