here’s the thing with time: it keeps marching on. it doesn’t matter what state of mind you’re in or how you’re feeling or whether life is going well or going to shit — time keeps going.
sometimes, that’s a terrifying feeling, especially if you’re like me and you feel like you’re constantly running a race against time, trying to prove something to yourself or to others and feeling the pressure of all that, even though you know cognitively that that isn’t true. other times, though, if you’re also like me, that’s a comforting thing to remember, that time goes on, that it brings about change, that the very seasons before us are evidence of that.
because this is the thing i might tell everyone who’s feeling suicidal and/or depressed: when everything feels impossible, just put your head down, get through the days, and count time because, when you look up again, you’ll find that time has passed, and you’re still here, and that counts — that counts for a lot.
for the uninitiated and the new, i have major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and ADHD, and i have a history of suicidal thinking. for some, that might be uncomfortable to read, and some might think it’s a stupid thing to share on a public space because mental illness is something that supposedly makes you undesirable, unhireable. others might think this is stupid because everyone gets depressed at one point and everyone feels anxious at one point and everyone has attention issues at one point — it’s just about discipline, about willpower, about wanting to be a better person.
except it’s not that simple, and that’s one hell of a condescending reaction, one that goes to show why modern society is in the mess it’s in when it comes to mental health.
i’m not here to make a defense for my intentional, deliberate disclosures, though. chances are, people who react along any of the above lines aren’t likely to change their minds, and there are actual, physical, human lives at stake, lives that are more important to use this space to address because, at the end of the day, it is what it is. i am who i am; my brain is what it is; and i feel no need to hide or be ashamed or afraid of what i live with because none of it means i can’t be a productive, thriving member of the world.
it only means i’m human, no better and no worse than anyone else.
and so are you.
because, like i said, time goes marching on. mental health isn’t something that stays locked in the same place forever; it also exists in flux; and we have good days and we have bad days and we have days when things are stable and okay and whatever. we have days when we’re overwhelmed, when we’re distraught, when we can barely breathe and stand up straight and need to curl up in bed under the covers and wait for this to pass.
we have days we think about dying.
we have days we think about living.
one of the tricks i’ve found is to remind myself constantly that this — whatever this is in this moment — isn’t it. this is not the defining moment of my life, and so i shouldn’t make decisions for my life based on this one specific moment. it doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive moment or an exultant one or a horrible, low one; all these moments pass; and the important thing is to make it onto the next moment, the next day, the next whatever and make it through that, too.
it doesn’t mean living in the future, though; don’t misunderstand. it doesn’t mean disregarding the present — on the contrary, it means being present, being attuned to what is going on in my brain, in my body, in my life at any given time and learning to listen. it means paying attention. it means being aware that this present is all i’ve got, that i have one chance to live it and experience it, so i better damn well be awake for it.
to be honest, i actually hate the phrase, this, too, will pass, partly because i hate platitudes of any kind but mostly because i have recurrent depression, which means that, yeah, it might pass this time, but it will be back, and it will be stronger, darker, more dangerous. i hate the phrase because it’s attached to this idea of a survival narrative, and i don’t like those either because i think it’s so much more important to be able to talk about these things, these “episodes” as they’re happening, instead of making conversation and dialogue contingent upon having “made it through.”
because the bitter, terrifying truth is that, sometimes, this is it. sometimes, we don’t “make it through.” sometimes, the monsters in our brain win and we take our own lives. i am not here to tell you with any level of certainty that you will be okay, that you will “survive,” because i have neither the confidence nor the arrogance to make such an audacious claim.
i am, however, here to tell you that you are stronger than you think are, that you can be okay, that time will pass. i am here to tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect life but there is such a thing as a valuable life, and yours is one. i am here to tell you that you are worth fighting for, whoever you are — i don’t need to know you personally to know that to be undeniably, inarguably true.
so give yourself the best chance you’ve got, and stay.
don’t hurt yourself. don’t hate yourself. don’t kill yourself.