The Grey Areas of Going Dark

(I’ve literally JUST submitted this to The Mighty, so we’ll see if it gets accepted. In the mean time, here’s my thoughts on the depressive spectrum of suicidal ideation.)

There’s never once been a time when I have looked myself in the mirror and said the
five words that seem to adhere themselves to a mental illness diagnosis: “I
want to kill myself.” Not when I had my first psychotic break (or my second),
not when I reached the lowest part of my depression. And yet, if you asked me
if I had ever attempted suicide, my answer would be yes. Had I ever thought
about it? Yes again. But not once had I ever thought those five words.

One of the first lessons someone with a mental illness diagnosis learns is that
there are often no black-and-white situations. The line between correct
diagnosis and misdiagnosis isn’t a mile wide, it’s a hair’s width. We learn to
see things on a spectrum, on a scale. And yet, in this most prevalent of litmus
tests for depression, these five words seem to be a yes or no, black or white
area.

I’m here to disagree. Vehemently.

All too often, there isn’t a life versus death attitude that accompanies mental
illness. It’s much more layered, a muddled grey than it is a color dichotomy.
There’s often more desperation and anguish in the expression than the pointed
action of “I want to kill myself.” And what’s worse, the other phrases, which
carry just as much weight and sincerity as that one, aren’t even given a second
glance. They’re completely brushed off and put aside because, after all, everyone feels like that at some point,
right?

 

“I don’t want to live anymore.”

 

This sentence, much like the litmus
tester, is one I’ve never spoken aloud, but I can remember a few times when I mentally
said it to myself in the mirror, the tears running down my cheeks. It was the
point where the depression took over and I’d had enough. What I was really
saying was that I don’t want to live a life where I’m constantly feeling used
up, depressed and frustrated.

 

“I just want to sleep and not wake up.”
Life presents itself with some
fierce challenges sometimes. Fighting a battle against yourself is a long,
tiresome journey of epic proportions. Being able to rest for just a few moments
seems like the most luxurious perfection and it can feel like after years of
fighting yourself, you have earned a permanent reprieve. This is my own
personal indicator of depression, because what I’m really saying is that I’m
tired of constantly fighting a battle that no one even knows I’m in and I need
a break.

 


“I want to cease to be. Like I never existed.”

This phrase often comes close to
“rock bottom” when I’m clinging on to the walls of hope and love with bloody
knuckles, waiting for someone to throw me a metaphorical rope. I feel like the
one to blame for everything that’s wrong. If I were better, different, gone,
life would be better for everyone and everything. What I really mean is that I’m
tired of watching everything fall apart and feeling like it’s all my fault. I
want the pain to cease, not my life.

 


“I just want it all to stop.”

Variations of this one seem to be
spoken to the friends or family who got a little too close when I’m emotionally
vulnerable. I don’t want them to worry about me or involve themselves
unnecessarily, but I want them to understand that I’m in pain. I feel
overwhelmed by life: the things that have happened, will happen and are
happening. What I’m really saying is that I need life to pause without
consequences so I can take a deep breath, pull myself together and invest in
some serious self-care.

 


“I can’t do this anymore.”

This one is the rock bottom, end of the line sentence that creeps up at the worst
moments of my battle with depression. There’s no hidden meaning here, it’s very
much self-explanatory. At my very lowest point, this was
the phrase that played on repeat in my head. At that moment, I couldn’t exist
as I was, I couldn’t live the life I had. My last words on earth would have
been these five, because they were the ones that matched the heartache. I
didn’t want to die, but I could no longer live.

 
In the end, not everyone experiences depression or suicidal tendencies in the same
way. But no matter what you mean or what phrase you use, the implications are
real. Being stuck in the grey areas of suicidal thoughts is no less painful,
and yet it’s much less talked about, making it that much more dangerous. There
isn’t just one way to live, and there isn’t just one way to cry out for help.

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19 thoughts on “The Grey Areas of Going Dark

  1. Michelle: I think it’s accurate and clear and something lots of People-in-Charge should know. I subscribe to The Mighty and will look out for your posts. Thank you. TS

  2. Reblogged this on Normal is out there and commented:
    I’ve been writing a lot about suicide recently. I’m trying to shine a light on how difficult that place really is and how it’s not from a selfish place. Michelle has written a great post on the subject.

    1. Thanks for the re-blog. This was the toughest blog so far to get “absolutely” right and I started over five or six times because I couldn’t figure it out. Then I made it personal and it made sense. It’s definitely not selfish at all. It’s heartbreaking.

      1. I tried my hardest. Sometimes less of my words are better, and this was definitely one of those times. but it’s definitely one of those things I really wish no one related to. That’s the sad part.

    1. I learned in my teen years that there’s a lot more fear behind those words than I was aware of. The way it was for me at least, was like a ring of comfortability that was both oppressive and made me depressed. I was afraid to leave that routine,that ring for fear of something worse. So it became my personal cage. And when “I can’t do this anymore” became “I’ve had enough” miracles happened. But what I can say is that there are two phrases I use pretty liberally and I hope that they might help you.
      “The sun will rise again and so will I.”
      “So far my track record for getting through this is 100%. Even if I don’t believe it now, I can do this.”
      You make a bigger impact than you will ever know-something I didn’t learn until I started blogging.
      Many blessed lights, my friend.

      1. How do you get to ‘I’ve had enough?’. I’ve certainly had more than enough…I want to be normal…I want to think normally, feel normally, act normally. I’m so caught in my shame and fear of failure…No matter what steps I take forward I always feel like Im falling backwards. This is so tiring. My girlfriend takes the brunt of all of this and I dont want her to. Shes so incredibly patient and loving. I just feel like I have to initiate every friendship and I just want someone to come and pursue me…

  3. As you can see, I seem to have no lack of sharing, so do not worry about open-bookness. That’s where my healing begins each time. Because I do not know you, I cannot speak to your own life, but I can speak of my own.
    When I am manic, I use every ounce of power I possess to set up some precautions for when I am depressed. I’ll hide little presents-candies, playlists, dollar bills, whatever away for when I need them most. I spent almost a decade fighting who I was and how I felt. I grew angrier each time I got depressed and more destructive each manic phase (I’m bipolar-but the manias never last long).
    Anyway, I remember reading an article about how in the times of Vikings, Egyptians and early peoples, mental illness was power-not shame. People who saw visions (schizophrenics) and people with moods like furies were made shamans and medicine people, because of their power and closeness to the spirits.
    I remember reading it and thinking about how silent I was about my own troubles, about how if I told anyone how I felt, how I REALLY felt, then there would be no one left for me to talk to. I was scared that my diagnosis meant that I couldn’t live the life I wanted, couldn’t get the job I was in school for. And I kept looking at that article and realized that I’d been given a gift (even though it felt TERRIBLE sometimes) and that if I could feel everything this deeply, maybe I needed to use that to my advantage. That’s how I found my “calling” in life. I stopped looking at everything that was “wrong” with me and started looking at how I could make those things into what I could use as assets.
    It starts out small. Self-care is a REALLY big thing that gets lost in the drift. Take mental health days with pride. Allow yourself to feel the way you do. And the ask why you were given the gift of feeling deeply. I was amazed when I found my true passion. It wasn’t something I’d ever even considered before. You might just be too.
    On a side note-I’m really verbose, so I apologize. But literally everything is a story for me, so I try to make sure my point is clear!

    1. That was so incredibly insightful! I smiled at the thought of leaving random, fun things for myself around the house but I also know the small moments of joy such discovery can bring. That’s a perspective I genuinely have never thought of before. I blog so that I can help people who are going through what I’ve been through or who have it worse. I’m still battling my inner demons but I know that hope exists. I’ve never viewed my depression or anxiety as a strong suit of mine. I’ve always seen it as a massive burden in my own heart which automatically makes me a burden to everyone else. I feel that a perspective change is happening. I’m making progress, inch by inch. It just feels so slow that I can’t get a grip on the ground before I’m knocked over again. I’m thankful though, for people in my life who I know love me. I’m also thankful for people I don’t even know, like you and everyone I’ve met on WordPress, who can share with me and relate to me on a much deeper level. Vic versa! Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk with me. It has been most encouraging!

      1. Stop by any time! I’m usually prepping a piece, but I’ll stop and chat a bit. WP has definitely made a lovely little community of people to feel safe with. And don’t feel that I’ve got everything figured out. I’m working on a piece now about self-harm in a post emo age group and it’s about some really recent stuff. I’m sitting square in the eye of the storm, if you will-not manic, not depressed, just waiting. So it’s just from being patient that I can tell ya’ll all the things. It’s definitely easier said than done to feel like depression is a strength, but choosing to look at it as a part of you (like say, your hair) instead of a defect can definitely be the thing that changes everything. I hope you find more encouragement in your day today!

  4. Excellent post. It reminds me of a period where I was homeless. I didn’t have the energy or desire to go through the process. Instead I looked at the people laying under the benches or flopped in a park and they all looked near death. That’s who I wanted to be. I wanted to give up entirely and allow myself to slowly fade away.

    I got here via Normal’s reblog and I’m glad I clicked the link.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for your kind words! It’s definitely a post I wish less people related to, but I definitely feel like it’s a message more people need to understand. Even though I don’t know you, I’m glad you didn’t fade away.

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