Everyone who has battled with depression has their own analogy for it and for me, it’s drowning. I’ve been riding high and dry the last few years but after Baby Grouch Number Two was born, I was swiftly sucked out to sea in a riptide. It happened quickly, a sharp jerk that startled and surprised me. Because, we’re always surprised when it comes back, aren’t we? We always think it’s gone for good because we are strong and capable and we really don’t have anything to be sad about, anyway. We’ve got it all. Except no matter what, it creeps back in, like a looping vine ruining the landscaping in the backyard that we can never get rid of, even with the strongest of weed killers.
Every depressive sometimes considers how they might end it, if it got bad enough. It might just be a flicker of a thought, a blip of morbidity that occurs right after the thought about how to prepare the chicken for dinner and right before the thought about do we have any vanilla ice cream to go with the apple pie for dessert.
It is a thought that exists like any other, it isn’t special. Did I get the mail out of the mailbox? Is tomorrow trash day? Should I just end it today? When is the Smith-Miller wedding? Oh, look, Adidas shoes are on sale, awesome. It is not selfish, it is not dramatic, it is just THERE, coexisting with all the other not-selfish, not-dramatic thoughts.
A million little ideas nag and grab hold of us, constantly running through our heads, repeating in our brains, it’s just that the How Would I End It thought is not benign, and is one that we have to constantly battle. And I don’t mean the same type of battle as the one about remembering to put the car keys on the hook or the one about remembering to take the coffee cup off the roof of the car before driving off, I mean a real, legitimate, drag-out-fight for our lives. The How Would I End It thought has a whole military brigade of buddies, it never shows up alone, it’s just one of the many dark thoughts that sour our brains, capable of becoming quite dangerous, when all working together. For me, the thoughts I am fighting are usually lapping waves, that push at my back at regular intervals, sometimes lightly and sometimes with enough force to knock me from my feet. I can usually scramble and keep my chin up high, just barely above the surface, while I reach down and curl my toes, grasping at the sand. I make it back to shore.
I know I need to keep a relatively fit body, and need to practice gratitude and remind myself how good I really have it, to keep the constant tide at bay, to prevent the blips from becoming an all-consuming internal barrage of horrific self-talk. Those things help, they really do. But I also know that someday doing those things might not be enough. I know that the possibility exists for stormy thoughts to create a tsunami. It’s pretty fucking hard to battle a tsunami. Most people wouldn’t call death by tsunami a selfish act.
If it ever gets that bad, I will get the names of doctors from people I trust. And I will actually attempt to call one.
If it ever gets that bad, I will stop lying on the forms asking me to rate my anxiety and depression.
If it ever gets that bad, I will remind myself of some tricks and tips to help make things better, if only temporarily, if only by a smidge.
If it ever gets that bad, know that being angry at me or trying to guilt me into feeling better is equivalent to shoving my head back under water. It will only make things worse.
If it ever gets that bad, please don’t take it personally.
If it ever gets that bad, please support me by just being there.
If it ever gets that bad, please remind me where I can get help from, and remind me that it’s okay to ask for the help when I need it.