Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thanks for stopping by

According to my sitemeter, the two most popular search queries that lead people to this here blog are "easiest ways to kill yourself" and "L is for the way you look at me."

If you got here through that first search, I just want to say this:

I know.

You're sure that I don't, but I do. I know the fear that this is all there will ever be, this pain, this mess, this struggle. And the way your tired brain makes you feel like this is the only option left to you.

It's not.

I promise.

And getting help, from places like this or this or this, will wind up being less scary than you thought.

Although it's grim, and most likely not what I should be saying, here's a thought that helped me through: I could always do it tomorrow. When I was at my lowest low, and the only things that really stopped me were the idea of someone in my family having to find my body or how Youngest Nephew wouldn't even remember me, the thought that helped me the most was 'if not today, then tomorrow.' And I kept saying that to myself, along with a running list of the things I would miss out on if I weren't here. Until there came a day, just a random day, when the list of things I would miss started to weigh more, to mean more, than the idea that I could end this whole thing anytime I wanted.

My circumstances have seemingly changed very little between my time in the pit and now - in a lot of ways I'm worse off: I'm sicker now than I was then. And I've got all the years between of being not just sick but disabled, not just being unable to work, but being unemployed and having to move home, not just single, but single while all of my friends - even my family - are married and having babies. I've lost a lot of close family members between then and now. Those are all tough things, all really hard things. Sometimes they seem impossible to live with. But I do, I can.

Because I'm not stuck in a depression, not mired in the middle of a molasses-y black hole, where all I am able to do is think about how I'm stuck and the impossibility of ever becoming unstuck.

I don't know how, exactly, I climbed out of it. I was so afraid to say I was depressed because for years, doctors had been telling me that I wasn't sick, I was really depressed, and I should just take an antidepressant and get on with it already. But depression, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't cause 104 degree fevers, doesn't weaken your muscle tone and decimate your immune system. It can't make your tonsils swell up to the size of those baby turtles you used to see in cartoons, can't give you bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma. I knew that I wasn't depressed when I first got sick - if anything I was on a high - and I knew that the three psych drs I'd seen since then had not only ruled out depression as the cause of my ailments, but one had gone so far as to call my doc at the time 'a stunning fool' for having even suggested it.

So while I knew that my depression wasn't the cause of my illness, having it as a symptom was just as troubling. I was about 6 years into being sick; I had developed asthma that spring, spent the summer roasting and the fall struggling to make it through a very tough internship with a supervisor who told me I would "never become a teacher." I got sick again and again as the kids so kindly shared their every germ with me. My beloved uncle died, and I was to sick to drive down for his funeral. Things kept piling up, heavier and heavier.

It was like being in a snowstorm, and seeing all that snow coming down. You see the coating that comes and try to sweep it away, but it's too heavy for the broom you've brought. And while you were gone, looking for a shovel, the snow has gotten deeper and heavier. You try to shovel, but the snow is coming too quick. And by now you're very, very tired. So you walk away for a while, figuring to just let it sit, wait for the flurry to pass, and then you'll deal with it. But the flurry turns into a full blown storm, and the pile keeps mounting, it multiplies. You try to tackle at least one path, so you can get out, but every time you think it's clear, the storm starts up again. Exhausted, you retreat to watch the snow from the window, amazed at how quickly it piles up. You start thinking that the blizzard will never end, that you'll never be able to clear that much snow out of your way. You're stuck where you are - it might just as well have been an avalanche, for all that you don't have the strength to plow your way through what's there. And then it starts to seem reasonable that you would just go out there and lie down in it, let it cover you up, cold and numbing, until you didn't have to worry about it, suffer through it, anymore.

I wish I could say that the sun came out and melted all the snow away, but it's mostly still there. I've just managed to shovel out a lot of paths, to find safe places to hole up when the storms are strongest. For some people the path out is meds: I tried a few and found they were no real help to me (surprise, surprise: meds not working for NTE? Shocker.) Exercise helps, even the gentle stretching I'm sometimes capable of doing makes me feel peaceful.

For me, the best path was people: I'd been isolating myself, more and more, little by little. And the CFIDS/FM had already done a pretty good job of cutting me off from most people, so it was shockingly easy. I stopped calling home so often, I shared less with my Roommate/Best Friend. Kept things that were bothering me a secret, ashamed of what the people I had left - the people who were closest - would think.

It was dumb, and Roommate/Best Friend told me so, right to my face. She snuck her way back in, somehow, and wouldn't let me close the door. At home, Mum did the same. Wormed and wiggled their way back in until I could see that I didn't have to do this whole thing by myself. That there were people in my life who would be just as outraged as I was that a person who was supposed to help was so cruel to me (Roommate/Best Fried immediately began calling her Bitch Lady, as in "Bitch Lady left a message on the machine"), who would be just as scared as I was over the fact that my liver was malfunctioning, that it might, in fact be shutting down.

Once I realized that I didn't have to do it alone, I realized that I could do it. It was never easy - it still isn't easy. (An easy way to tell that would be to look at the name of this blog.)

But it's worth it - I may be sicker and older and sometimes feel more stuck than every, but I'm also so much better off in a lot of ways: I've watched Youngest Nephew grow from baby to boy, had a hand in his raising, and feel pride at how far he's come. Lil Girl wasn't even a vague idea at the time suicide was uppermost in my mind, and now she's what's uppermost in my mind a lot of the time. I've got a lot of honorary nephews and nieces to spoil, and can see that Oldest Nephew is going to be taller than his mother in a matter of months. I've spent time with the people who mean the most to me, shared moments of unspeakable sadness and unbearable joy. I've started this blog and 'met' some of the most thoughtful, caring, individual people I've ever known, all the while being able to work hard at writing true, to document some parts of my life and say: this is me, take it or leave it. To know that people get it. To have seen my illnesses go from fringe and crazy to less fringe and suddenly researchable. To be able to hope that someday they'll figure this shit out.

There's a lot of times, especially recent times, when I see the snow start to come down and I wonder, do I have the strength to shovel out this time? What if I don't, what if I get stuck again? And the best part is that now I know enough to think that if that happens, someone will come for me in their snowmobile, at break neck speeds if necessary. All I have to do is ask.

So, if the Google has brought you here in search of easiest ways to kill yourself, I hope instead that you'll consider this a shovel, a snow plow, hell, even one of those tiny gardening spades. There are people outside of the storm who can help you, you just have to let them know you need the help.

Oh, and if you want to see some of my shovels, click that second link up there: L. O. V. E.

1 comment:

JaniceNW said...

One of the best descriptions of depression I've ever seen. I know now you know exactly how I feel when I'm depressed. HUGS! And say hi to the baby turtles for me!