I spent most of my teen years struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts
I wrote this as a response to a friend’s comment, and then thought I’d fill it in a bit more and share it that it might resonate with some who might find something in it as well
I think I first legitimately contemplated killing myself in grade 6. Grade 5 had been horrible, with the divorce, the moving, the weight gain, the bullying. Grade 6 made it even moreso, as I was more than willing to use those barbs, insults, assaults, to wound myself with, because I felt I deserved it, for not being good enough to prevent my parent’s divorce, not being strong enough to speak out/stop my Mom’s old boyfriend from yelling and hitting her, for not being what you’re supposed to be in society. The Star Athelete/Braniac with good marks. The ‘Cool Kid’, the ‘In-Crowd’. Not the shy frightened kid who reads books and plays video games, where there are set rules and good wins. Not the kid who goes and wanders in the woods and along the ocean full of wonders where he can find some peace away from all the things that hurt, and just responding to the wonder he sees. I love the ocean. We grew up alongside it. My Grandpa was a commercial fisherman. My Dad worked for the ferries. I wanted to die in the sea, swim till I could swim no further then drown and drift away. That was how I wanted to die, when I just didn’t want to hurt anymore, didn’t want to feel anymore. Sure I did want to live, but not with that much hurt and confusion and ick. Though I wasn’t able to do so, because I also knew that I’d bloat afterward, and I already hated myself for being fat. I didn’t want to be fatter in death. And so I existed in this crucible yet again of feeling disempowered, with no sense of what options there were, except to keep going, a step at a time.
During school years there’d been enough of a framework that I could follow along, my face and fears buried in books and video games. Trying to process all of the thoughts, and ideas, pains and hopes and fears. Not wanting to be there. After I graduated there was very little. You’re supposed to leave the nest and feel like flying, not be paralyzed be feelings of worthlessness to the point of bowing in to fear and not trying. Very few people knew that that’s where I was. And I’m being a bit harsh on myself, from my perspective of the time. I believed a lot of mis-truths about myself, but they were the best armour I’d found to protect me through school and home life. Externally people saw the over-the-top jovial person volunteering with the kids programs, that was one of the few safe/fun places where I could invest into other people that I felt were of worth and promise, when I didn’t really value myself much at all. They didn’t see the fear and my feeling of being of little worth, doomed to fail. They didn’t see that I’d go home and lay on the floor for hours, not moving, listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ on repeat, as my solace. As my escape. It was as if I wasn’t even there. If I did nothing, then at least I wasn’t doing something wrong.
It’s been a challenging journey. With many baby steps, and reading, learning, searching, for safe places and better ways. Trickles of teachings, and mentors, and ideas slowly managed to plant little seeds in me, and start growing. At some point I got tired of being tired and decided to get up and do stuff anyways, more to spite that spirit of depression. To laugh because I could. To become, as some friends at the time called it, ‘the most optimistic pessimist they knew’. 🙂 It was another few years, and a bunch of summers volunteering at summer camp, before I starting taking more little steps through my fears, as I continued to unpack my thoughts/feelings/etc. I remember my first remarkable optimistic thought in the fall of ’02. I don’t know what it was, but I remembering noting it for the fact that it was just dang optimistic. That was it for ’02. LOL. But then the following year they started to pick up a bit, as a slow drip increasing. As I was able to move a bit further along, look at things in different ways, reframe my perspective, slowly, painfully, awkwardly.
I still have my days, but I find the scales are pretty reversed, and I feel like I’ve learned better systems for noticing when I’m triggered, figuring out where it came from, accepting it, looking at it, and then usually being worn out from the process and going to bed, knowing it’ll be better once I wake up. 98% of the time I’m awesome and content. 2% of the time I get triggered, notice it and work my way through it, maybe check in with a few supportive friends, and then call it a night, knowing now that I’ll be refreshed in body and mind in the morning.
It’s quite something to look back upon, after over two decades of walking, working, processing, and searching for better strategies and re-looking at my values and goals, where I get worth, etc.
Since my early twenties people have asked me how I knew what I did, thought the thoughts that I did, had the perspective I did. I wasn’t always able to articulate that it was because I struggled through a lot of stuff from early on, and survived, and kept striving to understand more, find better, and think about it. I’m kinda tired just thinking about it LOL
Right now I’m getting rid of over half of the little bit that I have to my name. By the end of this afternoon I’ll have around three boxes of stuff that I somewhat value, and about $100 to my name. Tangibly my 33 years on this spinning rock haven’t equated to much. 😉 But having been to the point of death, having gone without food, having seen great suffering, and partaken of an aspect for myself, I can see and truly feel the gift of every extra day I get on the giant spinning blueberry. Each birthday I see as a success now. Every extra year, month, week, day, that I get is one that I didn’t have to have, but I have the joy of having. And I am content (most of the time 😉 ), and I have courage to step through many of my fears (slowly a bit at a time), and I’ve learned to forgive myself for things that were out of my control (a little bit more) and the things that I did that were really poor decisions on the road to learning. Any apologies I’ve had to made, I’ve made. I do the best I can, allowing my humanity, my frailty and my awesomeness, and working on living authentically, honestly, and with no regrets. Yes, it’s simple and complicated, challenging and easy.
Oh life. So lifey.
And I choose to smile, thankful for the friends and fellow journeyers that I’ve met along the way. The examples of those around me. Knowing that I can be to others, as they’ve been to me. I know what it is like to feel the gift of compassion and forgiveness of others towards myself, and can have the honour of sharing that forward. And slowly work on sharing that towards myself.
You are loveable. I am loveable. We are loveable. And we do the best we can understand based upon what we’ve encountered and experienced.
There are better ways yet out there to be discovered. And we continue to walk towards that, individually and together, a bit at a time.
I can choose. And with that choice, I choose to smile, to laugh, to move forward. To do what I can, as a simple person with his various friends, to live this day well, and go to sleep in a better world than I woke up in.
Whatever we do, if we do that, it’s been a good day.
From an awkward 33 year old ginger, who is a bit stunned to find he made it to Level 33.
(And truly only made it here, because of the love of friends and support of others. Life is not a solo thing. So thank you, so so much.)