Reasons for Living: World Mental Health Day
Reasons for living never come cheap
Even your best ones can put me to sleep
What I am saying, or trying to say
Is that there must be a better way …
~ Duncan Sheik
Recently, when I mentioned my suicidal ideation to my psychiatrist, he challenged me to come up with five reasons to live, write them down and put them where I could see them.
I came up with a silly one – most of my friends are dog people, and before I can kill myself, I have to find somebody to take my cat – and my therapist pretty much came up with the other four (though I had some input).
Suicide’s been in the news lately with the death of Robin Williams. Nondepressed people wonder how someone could do that. I can assure you that it makes perfect sense when you’re in the abyss. I feel like it a lot, and yet, all I’ve ever done is think about it – I’ve never made an attempt.
Invariably, I get asked by the mental health types what it is that’s keeping me here. Up until this morning, my only answer – which makes no sense to anyone but me – is that “it’s not time yet.” My therapist takes this to mean I’m not done educating people about mental illness. But what I finally had to admit is that I’m not really sure I want to die yet, I just want to get people’s attention.
I recently had significant surgery. Several people I wouldn’t have expected to do so stepped up and gave huge amounts of help. Someone I had considered a close friend has yet, two months out, to call, text or email and say “hi, how are you?,” much less to offer any kind of assistance. It hurts terribly. I wonder if she cares. I wonder if she would feel guilty if I OD’d (just enough to end up in the hospital). I wonder if anyone would miss me if I were to disappear from the earth.
I suppose that sounds like a pity party, if you’ve never experienced depression. But it’s a disease of loss, and it kind of feeds on itself. People run away because they don’t know how to handle someone whose brain makes them see the negative all the time.
I do have friends (the one who bailed notwithstanding). I have a job. I have another living creature to take care of. I can say all that objectively. But I can’t feel it. I just want to know, like most of us, I’d guess, that I’ve made an impact on the world. And yet I live in a haze. The sun’s covered by clouds. My heart is shrouded. My brain lies to me. It’s no way to live.
So why do I bother?
People keep throwing the word “hope” at me. I suppose I do have a glimmer of it, right now, anyway. My life has taken turns over the last couple of years that I never would have dreamed of even five years ago. I’m not where I thought I would be, or where I want to be. But I have this tiny sliver of hope that it can improve. When that’s gone, then it’ll be time to take a bow and say goodnight.
Eeyore that I am, I do believe that day will come. I’ve had enough depressive episodes in my life to be reasonably sure of that. But for now, it’s World Mental Health Day and I’m still working hard to improve my mental health. Take some time today to learn something new about mental health, whether it’s about a specific disease or medication or set of symptoms. Help erase the stigma. Knowledge benefits all of us.
Czernicki, C. (2019). Reasons for Living: World Mental Health Day. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 5, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/reasons-for-living/