Trigger warning for intense suicide depictions.
Depression has always been a swift descent into an illuminated darkness. Around me the world loses colour, loses the glimmer of hope, but the days themselves are not dark. Yet I find myself in an abyss where logically there is no light, just an obfuscating fog I want to get lost in. Here, in the depth of depression, are contorting shadows and vicious voices that belittle me — whittle me down until I am only fragments of a person. Or at least that’s one way to experience it.
My other, more recent experiences with depression have led me down different paths. I fancy myself an explorer of the dark in order to gain mastery over it; I believe I find myself on a new journey to begin to understand the depth of my depression. It’s a depth that has involved self-harm, psychosis, and suicide. Self-harm controls the voices; self-harm prevents the suicide attempt. Voices no one can hear circle around me and cackle at me while I scream at them — all in my head. Suicide. Suicide. Suicide.
What can I learn about my urges to kill myself? Why would I want to die? There have been many reasons over the years.
They’re better off without me.
No one would miss me.
Please just make the pain go away.
The methods have been much more creative.
I’ll drive to a mountain and take a long hike, then I’ll jump.
I’ll sit in a forest until I die of starvation.
I’ll slit my femoral artery but in the bathroom — don’t want to ruin the carpet.
There’s got to be a better way than pills. I’ll google it.
To be in the depth of depression is still being in the abyss, but I’m not alone anymore — I’m sitting next to the person I used to be in depression. I’ll look at that person knowing I am that person, but also knowing I can wander off and bring that person what she needs to be comfortable. I’ll exercise for her, eat well for her, take care of myself for her. Eventually a rope falls down from above and I tie it around her waist. We’re like two climbers ascending a mountain, except this mountain is a shapeless void with low visibility. I watch her climb up just to make sure she gets out, then I follow.
But what happens during that time in the abyss? Suicide, perhaps. That’s where I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve felt lifeless so many times that I’ve questioned ever being alive. Why is suicide the logical conclusion to end my suffering, to end the knife twisting in my stomach? Death, I believed, is the ultimate end to suffering. But I could never know that. No one knows what happens to the mind when the body dies. For all I know, I could have killed myself and wandered into more suffering — as some religions imply.
People don’t like to talk about the idea that death is appealing. My truth is that suicide is alluring in depression; it’s the golden fruit at the top of a tree. To want death so badly and to be so aware of that presents a paradox of wanting to die without actually dying. In my mind that means being a ghost, feeling numb, disappearing. It’s ironic considering I also feel those things at the same time. So in a way I’ve already achieved my suicidal convictions by simply being depressed. But, of course, that’s not satisfying at all.
So the weird part about it is the idea that somewhere in my depression I’m striving for satisfaction, and not just the satisfaction of not being depressed. The goals of a depressed mind are complex in this way, and I can’t entirely explain the phenomena as I experience them just yet. But stay tuned, and maybe this will make more sense for both of us.