The ghost of me

This year has been tough. Not in the another-dead-celebrity context, but for me, mentally, personally tough. I have cried a lot. I have experienced some of the deepest depression and despair I ever have endured. I have had crippling anxiety (an affliction which seems to have gained ferocity over the past few years). This morning I woke at 5:56am and wanted to die.

I rarely have suicidal thoughts, but I do have them. This morning was – in all ways – dark. I laid awake for an hour, severe tinnitus like a screaming jet engine, and could not shake the thought of being dead. Making myself dead. No more depression, no more despair. No more wondering if I’ll ever manage to make a living from my art. No more wondering if Pete would be better off without me around. No more fighting. No more smiling for others when I want to hide. I wanted to die. I’m still not certain as I write this that I’ve completely pushed the feeling away.

If you saw me today, Pete took me to lunch at The Cabin. I didn’t want to go, but I needed strong coffee to kill the headache I had. I drank a lot of wine last night, and even if it wasn’t a hangover, my head was in terrible pain. I struggled to be “normal” when we were out, but I think I just about managed to not let anyone into my mood. I’m now in bed with my laptop, typing out some thoughts before I tackle a couple of overdue email responses. I don’t want to sleep, but I’m not ok enough to be in the house properly. I am in survival mode.

When I woke up this morning, it was still so dark outside. I hate this about the winter months; it takes an already depressed person and keeps them in the dark, literally, for more hours of every day. My depression is a year-round thing, but waking before 6am and wanting to kill myself wasn’t really helped by it being so fucking dark for the next two hours.

I laid in bed, wrote Pete a couple of short emails because I needed to talk to someone but felt terrible about waking him so early. By a few minutes past 7, I woke him. I was afraid. I’d spent over an hour of concentrated thought on dying. He held me and I cried.

Nothing much diminishes my appetite, so we got me some breakfast and I went back to bed. I drifted in and out of sleep, and Pete kept an eye on me. I gathered my strength to shower, visit someone local I’d made an appointment with, and made my way home again after the exhausting effort to act normal. The thought that I still wasn’t dead frequently floated in and out of my mind and does now too.

We got lunch (as I mentioned above) and did a quick beach clean along the strand line, mostly to get me some fresh, sea air. The strong coffee faded my headache away. I felt like a ghost walking around on the beach, holidaymakers all around for their last few days of the Christmas – New Year breaks, and while I scanned the sand and seaweed for rubbish, I didn’t think about dying.

I have a birthday in a little over a week. I have essentially made it past what I consider the reasonable halfway point of my life, should fortune smile on my physical health. I still have youthful looks, no wrinkles, and as long as I keep dying my roots, most people have no idea how old I am. Between that and the fact that I’ve never had children keeps me in some sort of limbo. I get older, my injuries take longer to heal, and I experience things that contribute to my wisdom, but I feel like I’m a little stuck. People around me, my age or younger, have grown kids and I can’t relate. I never wanted children, so that part’s fine, but it feels strange to see people moving on a timeline of life that has no identifiable place on it for me. I’m an observer of stuff that has so little in common with my experience. It sometimes feels terribly lonely.

Being lonely is something I’m familiar with. I grew up an only child, my dad busy with a psychologist day job and sometimes an evening job teaching at the local branch of Indiana University, my mom busy but attentive at home. I get my mental health disorders from her. Severely depressed and bi-polar, she would retreat into herself, and so I got good at entertaining myself. She was a mostly good mother, but she struggled. After dad died, the struggle became harder on us both.

I miss the shit out of her. I lost her just over six years ago and it has affected me in dramatic ways. The cracks in my marriage grew. My loneliness grew. My mental health issues grew. My mourning has diminished, but I am forever changed. I think about dying a lot more, and as I watch life advance in logical progression for others around me, I feel more and more like my limbo is destroying me.

I am a pointless character in an otherwise sensible script. I understand that I am loved, and a friend, and I do good things (like teaching and community volunteering etc.) but I don’t feel like I fit. I feel like whoever wrote the script has only not edited me out because of some misguided fondness for something about my character. I’m not looking for purpose – and I’m an atheist – and objectively speaking, I probably would’ve cut me out of this drama because adding quirk or colour is a pretty poor justification for keeping me in it.

I’m also not looking for hugs or love or anyone to tell me what I mean to them. I know many of you do love me, but the really crap thing about deep depression is that it doesn’t much matter to me right now. I wish it did. I can’t help that. I haven’t killed myself, so right now I’m just glad I haven’t saddled anyone (especially Pete) with that mess and expense. I am just numb. So very, very numb.

I’ll get better, I always do, but today was and still is a very hard day. I don’t think about killing myself often, but the thoughts I had this morning were remarkable in that they were closer to becoming action than most other times. I wish I thought it was scary, but today I just look at death like my mom did: a welcome end to suffering. I could really do with less suffering. I am becoming so tired.

So what now? If you’ve read this, thank you. I’m going to do my best to get better, but I will never be well. That’s how brains work. Better is doable. Permanently well is not an option for my head. I wish it was, mostly, although I’d probably be making some pretty boring art if life was hunky dory for me. (That was me trying to be funny and it probably didn’t work.) But, know I’m safe, I know I’m loved, and for now at least, I’m not dead.

Today, I didn’t die. I’ll take the win.

One thought on “The ghost of me”

  1. I know that words don’t often help but you really are an inspiration to me both creatively and as a person.

    I have a child and a relatively normal job and literally no idea how I fit into this reality. I constantly feel that at some point I took a wrong turn and have no idea how to find my way back.

    Keep going xx

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