*Warning: this post may contain triggers for self-harm and material which may be upsetting. Please stay safe and steer clear of this post if you have these triggers.*
This is going to be one of those sleepless nights. I slept from 4 am-2pm yesterday, but I’m not at all tired yet and I have a lot on my mind. It’s already 5 am. I’ll go to bed when the sun comes up.
When he got home from work tonight, David told me about a frequent flier they have who has severe psychological problems and suicidal ideation like you would not believe. He said he just couldn’t imagine someone trying so hard to die as many times as this individual had.
But I can. And it’s so easy, when you’re so close to the rabbit hole, to slip and fall back in.
As David described his own emotional pain at not being able to do anything but pray to help this patient, I mentally found myself getting farther and farther away from the conversation at hand and back into the deep recesses of my brain where my depressive thoughts and desire to self harm still lurk.
We began our Bible study. It was my turn to start reading and we were on John 17. So I began, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed.” I suddenly choked up and could go no further. David immediately scooted over and cuddled me, rubbing my back as the tears ran down my face onto the pages of my Bible and the fur of our cat Aurora, who immediately knew something was wrong and came to the rescue as soon as I started crying. She’s amazing like that. She and Nala are always the first to know when there is some sort of emotional crisis going on with me. She stayed on my lap as I pet her and David hugged me, not really knowing what else to do. I wasn’t really mentally present for a little while; thoughts of “worthless” and “loser” and “You’re so broken, you can’t even give your husband a child” and “You should just die” flew through my head at lightning speed, a vicious attack from the evil one.
I calmed down pretty quickly, all things considered, although I was still a little weepy. When David asked what had triggered it, I said, “You said you can’t imagine what would make someone want to take their life or just not exist as much as your patient does. But I can. Because I’ve had those feelings. And they all just came rushing back like a tidal wave.”
No, I never wanted to kill myself because I never want to be separated from my Lord. I just wanted to die. I wanted to somehow not exist anymore. If only I could have died in a car accident or been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor instead of a benign one. These are thoughts that went through my head months ago, while my depression was still at its worst and I was self harming on a somewhat regular basis. A cut here and there, who would notice? Carving a few words with a box cutter, who would care? It was winter; long sleeves covered up the mutilation. All I had to do was pull out my best acting skills at work to make it seem like everything was hunky dory and no one would suspect a thing. And, aside from one coworker who could tell something was wrong and eventually became my accountability partner, (see How to Save a Life) I don’t think anyone knew anything about it until I went public with my depression on my blog in my post Love Me Til I’m Me Again.
That’s one of the scary things about depression. It never really leaves you, even on meds. Like PTSD, certain things can trigger depressive or harmful thoughts and suddenly you can find yourself lost in a depressive episode out of the blue, like what happened tonight. And I’m still glum. Maybe I’ll feel better when I wake up. But here’s a special treat: a front row seat to a major depressive episode. Because here are the thoughts flying through my head right now, no lying or exaggerating:
- You’re worthless. You haven’t been able to work barely all year. What’s the point of you?
- Your coworkers hate you because of all the extra shifts you’re making them do by being off. They can’t wait for your job to be taken out from under you and posted to get someone better and more reliable.
- Your house is a disaster because you’re a lazy slob and everyone knows it.
- God is punishing you. That’s why 2016 has sucked so much (see Why?).
- You’ll be a terrible mother. That’s why you’re infertile and all your friends get babies instead of you.
- Your pain is never going to go away. You’ll be like this forever.
- The brain surgery will fail. The tumor will grow back and you’ll be in misery for the rest of your life.
Make it stop. Please, Lord, make it stop…
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:147