“There’s a time to be silly, and there’s a time to be serious.” The Bellybutton Song from Veggietales
After that “Editing Song” post from yesterday, this is my time to be serious.
(I realize now that maybe starting this series of posts with a quote from Veggietales is not the best way to do that, but here we go!)
I know I’m starting five days late, but I’m going to try to post something every day for the rest of this month about my experiences with mental health and some things that “work” for me and other things that don’t, as well as a few old poems and thoughts from my journals.
Please keep in mind, these are MY experiences and I am not offering any solutions to anybody’s problems, especially considering the fact that I haven’t even “solved” my own problems, I’ve just figured out how to live with them (most of the time, anyway!) and I’m going to just be completely honest with you about my experiences.
It’s 2016 and the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health need to stop, and until the day my heart stops beating, I will continue to talk about this. We’ve lost too many people to stay silent anymore.
I apologize in advance if I ramble on too much.
The first time I remember feeling “depressed”*, I was approximately eleven years old, and since I basically have sponge cake for a brain I don’t remember a whole lot about what was going on in my life at the time, but what I do remember is that I felt terrible and it only got worse after my grandfather passed away in 2010 (I was still eleven).
* The only reason I put “depressed” in quotation marks is because I have never been professionally diagnosed, however I frequently experience low moods that last more than a few days, so for the purpose of this series of post I will use the terms “depressed” and/or “depression”, though I’ve never been labeled as such.
When I was younger, my Papa was the only person I ever felt like I could be completely transparent with and he would love me regardless of what I said or did. He listened to me and he never treated me like a child, even though I technically was one. He always believed in me, especially when I didn’t believe in myself, and he was by far the best friend I’ve ever had, so losing him absolutely crushed me.
It was around that time that I became disinterested in life and the things that I used to love, and suicide became an “option” for me, and I started to think about it more and more, until April 2012 came along and I decided I’d had enough. I didn’t want to live anymore, and I started to form a serious plan. My dad bought tickets to see VOTA (my favourite band) on the 21st and I wanted to see them one last time before I ended my life, so I planned to kill myself the day after that.
I had a few close friends (most of them were from the Internet, but that’s another story for another day!) that helped keep me afloat in my darker moments, but I’ve always been an ugly mixture of quiet and stubborn, and I’m pretty good at pretending I’m fine, so unless I specifically said something, nobody knew what I was going through, and when I did say something I felt extremely guilty for bothering my friends and family, which caused me to stay quieter which only made me feel worse.
“I dunno, I guess if you have a problem, I find that keeping it a secret keeps it so much stronger.” – Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench.
Rewind for a second. In late 2011, I started seeing a counsellor but we didn’t get along too well and I don’t think she understood what was going on in my head most of the time, so I usually didn’t talk to her about anything I considered to be important.
Anyway, we used to meet once a week (If I recall, we met on Tuesday’s) and while I was mentally working on my suicide plan, we were working though a “self-help” workbook in my counselling sessions, and there were tons of YES or NO quizzes, and I’ll never forget: The question was, “I am growing weary with life and I don’t care who knows it.” And I answered yes, and my counsellor immediately rebooked me for Thursday (the 19th) of the same week because she was so concerned. That had never happened before.
However, this strange feeling of peace came over me about my decision to end my life, so when I went for my next appointment I was actually GIDDY. I couldn’t stop talking about VOTA and I completely dismissed all of the concerns my counselor brought up that day.
That was the darkest time in my life. I wanted to give up many times before that and I’ve wanted to give up many times since, but that was the longest, darkest tunnel I’ve ever had to go through and I never thought I’d see the end.
VOTA played a few songs at that concert that mean a lot to me, but especially “Alright” and “Honestly”.
(Honestly is song #4 on the VOTA album. Link opens in new window) was the song that really made me fall in love with the band back in 2009 when I saw them for the first time. It’s a song about letting people see the darkest parts of you (and of your life) so they can also see what God has done to bring light to the situation, and when they played Honestly that night I started to reconsider my plan, because I wanted to be able to share my story someday like the song said. I didn’t want to be stuck in darkness forever, and I knew I would be stuck there if I gave in to the urges to kill myself.
So even though I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I started to wonder if there WAS light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in months, which was a step in the right direction at least.
And I think God really wanted to cement it into my head that I was supposed to stay, just in case I wasn’t convinced yet, because later that night VOTA played Alright, and it’s a great song if you have a few minutes to listen (Alright song #3 on the Self Titled album), but if you don’t, the song is about feeling stuck in a really rough situation, but eventually says, “You have something to live for” and I knew without a doubt I had to stay alive after that.
It’s been four years and two weeks since then, and I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. It’s not like I saw a concert, had an epiphany and everything’s been hunky dory ever since, no, there have been many, many instances when I considered giving up, but I’m still here, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in the future because I sincerely have no idea.
What I hope you takeaway from this: There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s okay if you can’t see it yet as long as you keep moving toward it. You might bump into walls along the way, but never let that keep you from continuing on your journey toward the light. You will find it eventually, I promise.
I will talk to you guys again tomorrow. Thanks for reading 🙂
*UPDATE, it’s 12:05am now, so this will show up as May 6th even though it was intended to be May 5th’s post. So I’ll post again “today”.*