For five years I have been treating this day as a birthday of sorts. On the fifth anniversary of attempting suicide it feels more like a death, than a birth.
It is the death of complacency. From that day I have had to consider each mood, each action and each moment to ensure that I don’t get back to that place again. Depression feels like it has permeated every aspect of my life. It is a balance between being vigilant and not wanting to be defined by it. I don’t want people to look at me and see depression.
The stain of depression isn’t just mine to bear, it spreads to those closest to me. The fear of what might happen isn’t just mine. The worry about whether a mood is the start of an episode, or just a bad day. The knowledge of what I did and might do again.
While the initial weight that led me to the bathtub that day felt like mine and mine alone, every day since there has been someone else there to carry it with me. I feel the burden of their burden. When I’m told that someone doesn’t think they have the emotional depth to deal with my depression, it’s hard not to laugh.
No one should have to deal with depression. If I had a choice, I’d happily return it.
The truth is, that it has always been with me, it’s imprinted in who I am. I can’t run from it, I can’t push it down, I can’t make it go away.
I can deal with it. That’s the only choice. If I don’t deal with my depression, I die. It is a terminal illness. There is no cure, I can only hold it at bay. If I succeed the depression won’t be what kills me.
I have to choose to live. Every day. It is not a subconscious act, I don’t blindly meander through my life. I force myself every day to get up, to exercise, and to eat, to go outside and not just stay in bed.
People worry, of course they do, and when I allow the darkness in my mind to become words and go onto a page it scares them even more.
The thing is, no one else gets to do this for me. No one else has to experience the funeral in my brain. It is mine to experience, and mine to manage.
I am wholly responsible for how I deal with depression and how I get on with life in spite of it. Acknowledging my depression has forced me to live with being so vulnerable it feels like I’m walking around without any skin.
It is scary. It is terrifying. Depression is my tormentor and my confidant, the thing that I know is always there.
Depression is terrifying for everyone who loves me, and the bitter pill is that without the depression I may not be the same person. The depression makes me more raw, more brittle, but also more resilient, more vulnerable, more able to savour each happy moment and the days when I wake up feeling good.
The depression is in me, but it is not me.