TW: self-harm, suicide, depression – This post speaks about issues such as suicide and self-harm. This could trigger an adverse reaction, so if you are disturbed by these themes, I advise you to leave this site immediately and speak to your support system.
Help is just a call away. If you are in danger or need help, please visit this link which maintains a repository of suicide prevention helplines from across the world.
International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) Crisis Resources: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Ups and downs.
One step forward, two steps back.
Temporary progress wiped out by eternal despair.
That is how I was feeling as I continued to grapple with my depression.
Most days, life was not worth the pain. Every day had more drudgery than the last. At some point, I wondered whether life was truly worth all this anguish and monotony. Each day was gray – devoid of any warmth and vigor. My characteristic zeal for life was a lost relic, and my optimism had all but faded into obscurity. Almost perpetually I felt as if I was meandering aimlessly, wishing for the next day to be slightly less torturous, but my wishes were seldom fulfilled.
I began feeling as if I were a spectator to everything that was occurring. Never in control, but merely a witness to the circumstances unfolding. Even if I wanted to feel better, there seemed to be a gargantuan presence atop my head, weighing me down continually. I was not dying, but I was not living either. It felt akin to survival, and all I could do was try and stay afloat in the flood of misery. Unfortunately, I was not much of a “swimmer” back then, so I found it nigh impossible to cope with unhelpful thoughts and unhealthy tendencies. Alas, I continued to struggle with my depression, and my lack of concern or bother for my recovery only exacerbated existing issues.
Gradually, my grip on my mind began to slip through my fingers; all I could do was watch.
A disturbing thought had begun to permeate through my mind; it was something I had only contemplated briefly; however, whenever it did occur to me, I would quickly crush the genesis of that rumination lest I should ever dare to act on it. The thought was jarring but simple.
“I do not want to live, and I wish I were dead.“
Now, that may sound like a suicidal thought. But it differs significantly.
Suicidal tendencies are usually followed with the intent to actively seek death and go to the means of doing so; however, in my case, I simply wished for it to happen without me taking any action myself. This was a passive mindset, and at the time, I had no intention to actively alter my reality. Let me elaborate – my thoughts usually circled around death, but an accidental one. For example, while crossing a road, I use to ponder, “How great it would be if a car just run me over?” Similarly, nights during which the pain seemed to be in a greater measure than usual, I would pray to God (or whomever I thought was up above) to not let me wake to see another day. I wished that I would die in my sleep – painless and instantaneous. To a certain extent, I was afraid of death, and I didn’t have it in me to rid myself of this pain – even if it meant harming myself, or worse, committing suicide.
During the course of my depression, I realized that my mind could not be idle and left to its own devices – almost like a mischievous toddler – it required constant monitoring and attention; a momentary lapse in care and it could traverse down a potentially devastating path. Indeed, I would soon face that devastation.
I was in the thick of summer vacation, and as I explained earlier, things were not going my way. It had been an emotionally trying period. I had been unable to get anything done, and I would find ways to procrastinate or make excuses to compensate for my lack of effort. We had painfully lost our dog Goofy who had been with us for seven years, and I’d felt guilty for not having taken enough care of him during his journey with us. Furthermore, my personal life had continued to deteriorate with me ignoring most of my friends (or rather just not bothering to keep in touch with any of them) and being on unstable terms with my family. My general outlook that no one really understood anything that I was going through and never would, served to antagonize me deeply to the extent that I felt I was better off without most social interaction.
Besides, no one really bothered that much anyway. For the most part, I was alone save a handful of people whom I still spoke to. I would often tell them about my trials and tribulations, my depressive thoughts, and my bleak outlook for the future. Sometimes, I would jokingly tell them of my desire to die – maybe through a drug overdose or some other fanciful way – which I would quickly pass off as nothing but jest. I did quite a good job at hiding my depression with the rest of the world, and sometimes, even with those who I cherished deeply. It was my dirty, little secret, and no one could know. Despite that, the signs were there, but there was nothing that warranted extreme action. Unfortunately, those little bouts of pessimistic thinking would slowly bubble up to the point where something colossal was bound to happen.
Most days were uneventful – they were characterized by the ebb and flow of my mood, but nothing drastic or worrying would ever occur. That would all change on the day I tried to kill myself.
The day started off like any other. I woke up late (which is what usually happens when you go to bed at 4 AM every night), and I was not in the highest of spirits. My mother and sister were travelling while my dad had gone to work, so I was alone at home. Of course, I had my seemingly mammoth list of tasks to complete, but I decided that I would be better off laying in bed and watching YouTube (something I still do a lot of) than even bothering to attempt any work. A couple of hours passed, but I finally got out of bed to get some lunch. However, while eating lunch, something frightening was fermenting within. Nothing really triggered that thought process, but as I said, during my depressive phase, even something as non-threatening as free time could set off a cataclysmic chain of thoughts.
My mind was obsessed with contemplating my existence – I was wondering what I really contributed to the world. I didn’t have very many people who cared about me – sure, I had several “friends,” but very few of them actually
gave a shit bothered. The rest of them were all on the surface, and a lot of them had left after the hostile situation in school. My family cared, but at the time that didn’t matter to me. I thought, “They’re my family; they’ll always care.” So, I downplayed just how much they were concerned and affected by my well-being. In that void of blackness, it was easy enough. The descent would only worsen as I slowly began to panic. My heart was racing, and I felt engulfed by the tightening chains of anxiety gradually constricting my chest and making it harder and harder to breathe. With this idea in my head, I had started to have a huge argument with one of my friends over the phone when we were having a rather normal conversation; unfortunately, the conversation quickly deteriorated, and before I knew it, we were having a full-blown screaming match. The descent would only worsen as I slowly began to panic.
Once again, it was all too much. I did not have it in me to fight what seemed like a force that was too dark, too terrifying, and too overpowering. I felt as if I was a victim to the whims of my depression. In that moment, I walked rather calmly for someone having a panic attack to the kitchen, and I grabbed the knife from the block; slowly, I returned to my parents’ room and I slumped onto their bed. My phone was buzzing incessantly with my friend worried for my well-being – I had sent a few cryptic texts saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” – something that would invariably evoke concern in anyone’s heart. However, as I recall that pivotal incident, all I remember feeling in that moment was numbness. I began to dissociate from myself because it was the only way the persistent pangs of suffering would cease.
Then, the thought that was all but passive suddenly took on an active presence.
“I should kill myself.”
Hardly had the thought emerged in my head when my body sprang into action. I did not write any suicide note, nor recorded any video of any kind. It was all too sudden for any sort of premeditated messages. All that mattered was that thought, and everything else seemed to evaporate. I grabbed the knife with the complete acceptance of what I was about to do: I was ready to kill myself. I kept pressing the knife into my wrist, noticing the cold steel making lacerations, pressing harder each time. Scarlet blood began to flow out of the self-inflicted wounds when suddenly the magnitude of what I was doing kicked in. I was going to kill myself.
Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz.
My phone was ringing. It was my friend. Her voice was a tone of false placidity and the underlying franticness was all too apparent, but she didn’t want to aggravate the already volatile situation. She asked me what I was doing to which I responded coldly, “I have a knife in my hand, and I’m cutting myself.”
“What?” she asked with a tinge of bewilderment as if she had misheard what I said.
I reiterated to her what I was doing, and she immediately reassured me that I was not alone. Hearing her voice, I was flooded with the thoughts of my grieving family and friends, and how they would feel to see my lifeless body at home due to no fault of their own. Even more surprisingly, I had an epiphany: I did not want to die. When I was so close to the clutches of death, every problem I had suddenly seemed solvable. Realizing this, I broke down, and my friend told me that she was on the way to my place. I was secretly grateful that I would not be alone, and until she arrived, she kept calling periodically to check in on me.
After the worst had passed, other thoughts began to creep in. How would I tell my parents about this? Could I even tell them about this? I felt tremendous guilt and shame for having even tried to take my own life. Fortunately, the cuts were not too deep, and after some cleaning and covering up, the bleeding subsided. But what if I had cut too deep before my friend called? What if I had started to bleed out before any help could reach me? All these possibilities made me realize just how fortunate I was to have failed at my suicide attempt.
Eventually, my friend arrived, and she spent some time with me to make sure I was calm and not in any sort of danger. We obviously reconciled, and after a while, my dad had returned from work as well. I hid my cuts from him, still strategizing the best way to tell my parents what had transpired. Though I had had a crucial realization of my desire to live, my journey with depression was far from over. In soothe, it had only just begun.
Regardless of how much longer I had to go with my recovery, there are some important and invaluable lessons I learnt from this experience. As difficult as it is to fathom, recovery is not linear: there are bound to be moments, days, weeks, or even months that are worse than others, but sometimes, it has to get worse before it can get better. At the time, I felt that I had hit rock-bottom and nothing could be worse than this: there was some truth to that, however, there have been several moments when I have felt worse than I did that fateful day. Recovery is not easy but that’s because it isn’t meant to be. Being vulnerable and confronting your trials and tribulations is the harder thing to do, but you’re far better off at least trying than letting yourself wallow and subduing your inner strife.
Furthermore, my passive obsession with death was just as dangerous as suicidal thinking. That should have been a warning sign to me, but I ignored it simply because I did not act on that obsession. But as I would come to painfully learn it was like a match, and all it needed was a little spark to ignite a raging fire that threatened to ravish my stability. It’s imperative to process such thoughts deeply and fully and seek the appropriate help when necessary. Merely acknowledging turbulent emotions and failing to understand them can lead to things spilling over later rather nastily. Lastly, you’re never truly as alone as you think you are. Sure, there are times when people seem busier than usual, but that never means that they will abandon you in your darkest hours. It is convenient to allow self-pity to blur your thinking and your reality, but I assure you that you’re never really alone. Help is always just around the corner, and it is important to be grateful for the gifts of love, support, and friendship that people around you embellish your life with.
There are times when I look at my wrist and trace the scars; The scars lead to reminiscing – pain, tears, panic attacks – they were all a part of my journey. But more often than not, when I glance at my scars, I can’t help but smile. Three years ago, I could have never imagined that I would make it out of my depression with the lessons, experiences, and outlook that I have now. I could have never imagined even speaking about my depression and instances of self-harm, let alone write about them and publish it for the world to see. Depression has revealed qualities in me (both good and bad) that I didn’t know I had, but that’s what makes life so unique and wonderful. The limitless potential we as humans have for growth, pain, healing, and emotion is truly fascinating. My scars give me a simple reminder: I have been through hell and back, but I am stronger than I ever was; I will keep on fighting with all the strength I have within no matter what. I know that my life will have more challenges, more struggles, and more testing times, but I will pick myself up and keep going. Time and time again. And that is all that matters.
“Death is so final, yet life is full of possibilities.“Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire.