Aug 22, 2018
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
Nine long months ago, I sat in this very spot and contemplated ending my life.
It wasn’t the first time by a mile, and it wouldn’t be the last time either. It was a cool and cloudy September day. Everything was grey. I left my cozy office early and got on a bus to go to my new doctor’s office. A few months before, I had finally gotten a family doctor (adulting!) and when we did the standard health history, I explained that my only health issue was depression.
She asked how often I was depressed and I said “about six months out of the year… but I have it well controlled.”
I will never forget her next words: “I understand. But to me, that doesn’t sound like a good quality of life.”
The minutes ticked by agonizingly.
As the months passed and I got more and more depressed, more and more suicidal, those words echoed in my head. So on this ugly September day, 10 years into my battle with depression, I was heading to the doctor to get a prescription. The bus I was on got stuck in traffic. I called the office three times. I started to panic. The minutes ticked by agonizingly. At the exact moment I got off the bus, 40 minutes (which should have been 10) later, the receptionist called to say I would have to reschedule. I fought back tears at the bus stop, staring at the clinic. I was exhausted, defeated.
She couldn’t possibly understand what a struggle it was just to get here: A ten-year long struggle. I couldn’t possibly explain how this appointment had been the only thing keeping me going, how it was the faintest hope of a speck of a light at the end of the tunnel. I told her I was right across the street, but it didn’t matter. I took the next available appointment, which was a full week later. At that point, a week seemed like an eternity. Seven more full days of surviving on my own? It felt impossible. Laughably unfeasible.
My doctor’s office is across from a man-made beach with bright umbrellas. I walked to the edge of the water, the tears flowing freely now. I decided that this was the millionth time the universe told me it didn’t want me here. I decided to finally listen. I sat there at the edge of the water crying as I decided to finally kill myself. I contemplated slipping into the cold water, but knew it wouldn’t kill me. I got up. I walked home.
I felt like I had an ally in this battle.
Somewhere along that walk, I decided to keep going. At least for a little bit longer. At least until the next doctor appointment. And I did. A week later, I sat in my doctor’s office and emotionlessly described my daily suicidal thoughts, my complete lack of hope that anything would ever get better, my sense of utter worthlessness, my lack of desire to do anything but sit in bed and stare at the ceiling, my lost focus and productivity and missed days of work. I simply saw no point in life anymore. I was so tired of fighting. She listened compassionately and told me that we would help me get better together, and for the first time in 27 long years, I felt like I had an ally in this battle.
Nine months, four dose adjustments, eight weeks of an intensive yoga mindfulness course, three months of therapy, and here I am. Happy to be alive. More than happy: Ecstatic. Today marks my first doctor’s appointment with no dose adjustment.
People who have never experienced the terrible reckoning that is depression don’t understand how hard it is to fight tooth and nail for what feels like should be an evolutionary birthright: Tthe desire to be alive. People with depression might find this story exhausting and discouraging. Nine months is a long time. Everything I did is a lot of work. And I know it seems unimaginable now, but I swear to you it’s worth it. Start today. Find an ally (I have three now: two doctors and one therapist). Get better. I promise that one day you will thank yourself for saving your own life.
I’m not naive enough to think that I will always be depression free.
I’m not naive enough to think that I will always be depression free. And life isn’t exactly a picnic: I am often sad, often lonely, often anxious, often afraid. But now, I am often happy, often hopeful, often grateful, often giddy at just the miracle of being alive.