Depression, Self-Harm and Suicide: A Bundle of Joy

Ranting, dear readers. Please excuse. Haven’t taken my Prozac for a few days, and I’m just barely getting back on it.

First, people romanticize the whole lot of mental illness and suicide, and that needs to stop. Depression is not this beautiful, profound sadness where you sit in your closet, cut yourself and cry tears of eyeliner and mascara while writing poetry.Sure, there may be elements of that, but you know what else is there? Numbness. Feeling nothing when you cut yourself, and you’re just as calm as if you were doing a doodle. “Oh, it’s a little uneven on this side. Let’s fix that. Go deeper.” It’s thinking, “Since I don’t want to do anything, I should just die, because I’m a useless waste of space. Too bad I don’t have the guts to do it.”

And while we’re talking about suicide, let’s mention something—it’s selfish. Yeah, I’ve been there. If I’d had a gun, I might have done it already. My best friend, Scott, killed himself in December. My uncle and grandfather both killed themselves. I’ve seen both sides of this issue. But you know what you’re doing to those you care about? Leaving them feeling guilty. They’ll spend the rest of their lives wondering what they could have done to stop you. What they could have done differently. Too many what ifs, insidiously whispering in the back of your mind. Also, how about funeral expenses? That’s so kind of you, to burden your loved ones with that. What a star you are. And plus, embalming ain’t gonna be a pretty picture. None of this, “she looks like she’s just sleeping,” or whatever. You’ll look like a corpse that’s started to decay.

Yeah, life is hard. Everyone gets that. We just need to try and help each other through it. If we actually try, there’s nothing life can throw at us that we won’t be able to overcome.

I’m sorry. I get really cranky when depression’s hitting me—temperamental and even violent. (Surprise, that’s another fun part of depression!) I’m trying to work at it, but it’s like telling the sun to stop shining.

Getting past ranting over stupid people (I’ve spent way too much time on Tumblr lately), bad times have been more plentiful. Earlier this week, I was happy, wondering if my depression had fixed itself, or something magical like that. And then I ran out of money, and out of Prozac.

. . . nope.

I’m still just as screwy. Life sucks. Little things like spilling part of a bottle of Coca Cola are tragedies. Every little annoyance with my roommates is a grievous flaw. Books falling off a shelf have a personal vendetta against me, and therefore need to be thrown across the room. I don’t want to write, and I don’t want to talk to people. I just wanna flip the world the bird, and shut it all out.

Why can’t common sense and common courtesy actually be just those? People are difficult.

My roommate will not shut up about stuff that she’s watching on her laptop that I don’t care about. I’m tempted to say I don’t care, but as she has depression too, I don’t want to hurt any feelings.

So, for today, screw finishing touches on this post. Angry!Mac is too irritated to care.

More Issues!

Yep. This blog wouldn’t be the same without piling on the angst, would it?

So, first, depression sucks. At work, it’s harder to suck it up, because I know I’ve got an actual problem, and it’s not all in my head. Well, okay, maybe it is in my head, but you know what I mean. It’s especially bad on the days without sun, if I can’t find a good way to distract myself. Try snowboarding in that. Good way to get very hurt.

Second, dating also sucks. Because yeah, I get that I’m not bad-looking, but I feel like guys are only interested in me until they see the madness beneath the surface. Let me tell you, I have issues. But I went on a date on Saturday that wasn’t a total disaster. So it’s not all bad.

Third, my sister had me look up covert incest (my counselor calls it emotional dumping). And it applied to my past relationship with my mother pretty well (boyfriend 2 reminds me of her in so many ways that it’s ridiculous). So now, I’ve got that to deal with on top of everything else. Listen to me while I whine.

Fourth, I built a blanket fort. It was awesome. My roommates were jealous.

The Stomach Monster, Swimming, Sunburn and The State

There is a joke among my friends and family that I am a bottomless pit. My high metabolism makes me hungry often, and when I’m hungry, the stomach monster starts to roar. It’s difficult, because all the sudden I’ll be too hungry to focus on anything else, and I’ll start being really irritable (I guess I just need more Snickers in my diet). Then I eat in large amounts, and eat more. Never gain a pound.

Thinking about this today brought back some ever so delightful memories of my childhood. Mom hardly ever cooked, so me and my sister mostly had to fend for ourselves. We learned how to make Ramen pretty quick. And anything that could be made in the microwave.

But when I was nine, after the dreaded incident of going to live at a stranger’s house due to The State, Mom stepped it up. See, that summer, she became obsessed with us getting swimming lessons at the local outdoor pool, which wasn’t exactly within walking distance of home. So, she started taking us there in the morning for lessons, and then we’d be left there to swim all day until she picked my dad up from work at about five in the evening. So, basically, we were kept out of the house to avoid The Evil State, by being shunted off to a swimming pool all day, with nothing to eat. Did I mention that? We never packed any food, and we were almost never given any money. A $1.00 hot dog on one of those long days was a rare treat. Sometimes, we’d be so hungry we would scavenge around until we found a peanut someone had dropped, and we’d each eat half of it.

I got my first second-degree sunburn that summer. Mom never sent us with sunscreen, either. And when we came home sunburnt, she’d rub some lotion on that burned like hell, and she’d yell at us the more we cried.

For a little variety, we didn’t always go to the pool, of course. When we didn’t have swimming lessons, Mom would sometimes take us to another city to sit in the car all day at a park, or out at the reservoir. We were scared to even leave the car for fear of The Evil State, so we stayed there most of the time. I’ve spent more time sleeping in a car than I care to remember.

And then there was one very rare occasion where our mother let our best friend spend the night over at our house. We were woken up in the morning because The State Lady had come unexpectedly, and was asking for us. So Mom told us to keep quiet and stay there, and lied to the woman, saying that me and my sister were out at the local amusement park for the day with some other friends (what other friends?). Our best friend had to walk home alone, all due to my mother’s fear that The State would find her two little angels.

And, of course, all this was our fault. The State wouldn’t be after us if we were good kids who did our schoolwork and kept our rooms clean.

I’m not posting all this angst and drama to be like “oh woe is me,” or anything. Really. I get that there are lots of people out there who have been through things I can’t even comprehend. Who have survived things I couldn’t. I’m just writing about it because I find my own twisted psychology interesting, and I hope to be of some help to someone else, sometime. Whether as support, or for research, or what have you. I care not. I just want to pretend I’m helping, while I’m sitting here contemplating my navel because it’s all so fascinating.

Dear Parents

(aka Dear Mac of The Possible Future)

  • Your children are not puppets. They are individuals. All of them have different wants and needs. Don’t project onto them, or place them on a pedestal.
  • Take the time to listen to them. They have a perspective, too, and they’re not always wrong just because they’re the children.
  • Don’t try to tell them they’re extremely intelligent and capable of handling online high school classes when they can barely divide.
  • Don’t forbid them from seeing friends—they’ll usually just find a way to go behind your back, if the friendship is strong enough.
  • When they ask why they aren’t allowed to do something, give them a good, honest reason, not “Because I said so.”
  • Don’t ever try to hide from Child Services, or isolate your children in other ways—especially not from peers. Psychologically, children need to form social connections, or their brains don’t develop correctly.
  • If you’re going to homeschool your children, make sure that this is actually done. Properly. Patiently. Don’t yell at them for not understanding. Make sure you understand, first.
  • Don’t tell them to stop being so sensitive.
  • Don’t talk about people behind their backs to your children. Especially not other children or the other parent.
  • Don’t make it all about you.

Kick Depression In The Butt

So, I’ve been seeing a counselor. That’s going well. I’m telling the Evil Depression Voices to shut their pie holes, because I’m awesome, and not nearly as worthless or incompetent as I try to tell myself that I am. Thanks to my counselor, of course. And my sister. I couldn’t do this crap on my own!

(Warning: several curse words will follow)

Tonight, my sister worked a double shift. And she texted me, because one of her coworkers was being a chauvinistic dick, it was a long, stressful day, and depression was giving her an emotional breakdown.

Me, I like to fix the problem. I’m not good at dealing with emotions. So, I tried just being a sounding board. Then I started slipping into my usual habit (telling her that she should come work with my department because it’s better management, etc). I apologized, but then she told me what she needed was a solution for tonight.

So, I did my absolute best, trying to give her the pep talks I give myself. Tonight, therefore, I’d like to give myself that same pep talk again.

Life is full of challenges, Mac. People can be assholes. If they don’t like the way you do things, tell them to suck it up. You are awesome. Sometimes you think you can’t handle it. Well, you can. No obstacle will ever be put in your path that you can’t demolish. You just gotta choose to do it.

You’ve already been through hell. What’s this? It’s nothing. Depression is being the drama queen. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill. Tell it to shut up. Because you’re tough. You’re strong. You’re awesome. You got this. Nobody can bring you down unless you choose to let them.

My pseudonym is Mac. I’ve stop fights in their tracks. I’ve climbed thirty-foot knotted ropes. I’ve run a zipline. I worked in a haunted house for five years, and never complained about any injuries I received. I rescued and continue to protect my cat, Moe. I’ve let go of the so-called love of my life more than once. I solve problems. I write and proofread. I am beautiful, smart, witty, and my cats adore me (as long as I feed them). I survived a narcissistic, hoarding mother. I survived an abusive sister. I survived bullying, self-harm, a batshit crazy aunt, and a friend’s suicide. I am strong. Depression and the day-to-day challenges of life ain’t got nothin’ on me!

Victim? Survivor? Nope. I’m a fighter, thank you very much.

Depression can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Holiday Misery

It’s been a hard month. I can freely admit that. What made it worse? My two roommates being at their own homes for Christmas, and my parents coming and staying at my house. Christmas night, after a long day at work, I had to come home to deal with my parents getting in a fight, my mom yelling at our dogs for no reason, and all that. When I told her to chill out and not yell at the dogs (who weren’t doing anything, as usual), she said, “You weren’t on the receiving end, Mac. I was!” Here meaning the receiving end of my dad’s temper. Because she was being stupid, and he snapped at her.

But, because I just don’t care anymore, I replied, “Don’t even start that shit with me right now!”

So, I took the dogs into my room and changed clothes, all the while having to listen to my parents yelling. Flashback to many long nights in my childhood when those fights would scare the hell out of me. But I am not that little girl anymore. So I came out, and yelled louder.

But still, all this made for a very stressful, depression-triggering night. By the time we got to my sister’s house, where she had made dinner, I was ready to kill someone, and couldn’t help crying for no real reason. I’m fortunate to have such an awesome sister. She took me into her room, away from my parents, and let me talk it out, staying with me until I’d calmed down.

The next day, I couldn’t face going to work. My sister was working that night (she works at the same place in a different department), so my boss told her he was worried about me, and asked what was up. She told him about the family fiasco, to which he replied, “Well, tell her we’re her real family.”

Even as I write that, I’m tearing up a little. Those words mean so much to me. There are people out there who worry about me, and want the best for me. They have more right to claim familial ties to me than my mother ever did. And that was something I really needed to hear.

Of course, the month is still hard. I’m thinking a lot about Scott when I have nothing else to fill my mind. I can’t bear to even think about getting rid of anything that was his that he left at my house. Or anything he gave me, even if I never wanted it. Everything he gave me has become too sentimentally precious. The memories are sparse, but cherished. Almost sacred. And it hurts. A lot. I don’t want to remember the dead body I saw at his funeral. I want to remember the tall, gangly kid with the huge smile who joked about everything. But they’re too intertwined. It’s hard. Yes, I’ve been better since the funeral. But does a wound like that ever fully heal? And depression’s never going to make it easier.

But I’m getting better. Yes, sometimes it’s so hard I just want to give up. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m going to make it. But there are people who love me. If nothing else, I have to keep going for them. I am strong. I will protect them from knowing what this feels like.

That helps.

Manure Occureth

Nearly two weeks since my best friend, Scott, took his own life. I haven’t broken down since the funeral. I feel that’s an accomplishment. I guess the funeral gave me the closure I needed—final knowledge that this wasn’t some kind of sick joke. And now, life goes on. It’s too short to waste grieving.

Sad as it is, I’m sure this did happen for a reason. Now, I have some tangible, first-hand experience with the grief of losing someone close to me. The experience of having a friend so lost in life that he felt he had no other way out. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I just wish he could have found some help, like I did. But, too late. For Scott, the great test of life was turned in early, and the rest of us still have to struggle through all the joys and sorrows that come with it, constantly hoping we finish before our time is up.

And this is a test I intend to ace.

Scott’s death has grounded me, given me some more traction to make it through my own life, and maybe be better prepared to help others make it through theirs. This isn’t an experience I’d want anyone to go through, but at the same time—even while I’m grieving—I recognize that it’s enabled me to be a better person. Just like my sister’s abuse helped balance out my mother’s constant praise, keeping me from turning into a narcissist like her.

Whoever may be out there, going through hard times and wondering just what it’s all for, I hope you can take a step back and realize that even though it hurts—sometimes so much you can barely stand it—it’s helping you become better, in some way. You’re strong enough to make it through, and when you do, the sun will shine out all the clearer.

So, here I am, sitting in front of my computer, being oddly optimistic. Don’t worry. I already know I’m crazy. And cheesy. I get all my best lines off Hallmark cards, and I have a ridiculous flair for the dramatic. That’s okay, though. Life goes on.