Two days after my 29th birthday, while sitting my desk, I told my friend that I felt like dying. It was a relief to say. Because thoughts of death and everything related to mine (except for self harm) had been taking ownership in my head for years. What I now recognize as extreme anxiety had been part of my life for as long as I could remember. And that day, it collided without warning with something that had existed on the edges of the carefully constructed life I built, showing up randomly, subtly, and disappearing just as quickly.
On July 12, my anxiety crashed into depression, sparking a major depressive episode that resulted in my saying to my best friend “I feel like dying” and meaning every word of it. So I did what any industrious person in the middle of a first time major depressive episode would do: I turned my thoughts into actions. I do not remember my ride home. I cannot remember if I took the bus or uber. I don’t remember what I was wearing or much of anything. I just knew that all I felt was an overwhelming, oppressive, crushing sense of complete insignificance. I did not matter. Nothing I did mattered. And even though I got the great job just a month prior, a house, and a bunch of other accolades, it did not matter. Because when all was said and done, I was alone.
This is the lie that mental illness spins. Neurotransmitters basically stop acting right and lead people to believe that they should be dead. I did not loathe myself. I simply wanted to go to sleep and not wake up because it wouldn’t matter either way. In hindsight, it is bizarre that things spun out of control as quickly as they did. But I suppose when thinking about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, two people who I admired and who died by suicide shortly before July 12, I can understand. The external life doesn’t matter. In the end, nothing does.
Most people who die by suicide never attempted before. And warning signs vary. Mine were subtle. I had been dealing with an emotionally taxing relationship that I ended on my birthday. But that breakup was a tiny spark in what was years’ worth of kindling for a massive explosion that went off in my head. And it went off and turned into phone calls and texts that went unanswered as I grew unconscious.
Nearly a year later, I can speak about this very pragmatically because who I was in that moment is nowhere near who I am now. That’s how untreated depression works. I spent so much time trying to appear even keeled that I ignored myself, my needs, and my quickly declining state of being.
I’ve grown closer with my family by establishing and setting boundaries. I’ve lost friends who revealed themselves and their character. I’ve gotten a dog who I named Fawkes. I got a tattoo. After 10 months of therapy, my therapist and I ended our sessions. Not every day is great. I’m not “fixed”. But dammit, I am clear AF about who I am and who I allow into my life and for that- I’m glad I lived to see July 13th.