I did this. Because of major depressive episodes I felt so bad, and still do feel bad to possess the cowardice within me to consider an easy end to tough times. All told my worst feelings were only a reality for a few years, however, it felt like decades of unabated mental angst that had followed me everywhere. The rational mind knows my feeling is not factual. The heart disagrees and it says that there is an unrecoverable loss of function, and you’re not good for anything or anyone any longer. You’ve lost the feeling of enjoyment that used to be part of everyday things. The loss supports the heavy feelings in your heart. Food no longer tastes good. To be close to someone whom you care about means that you need to “fake it” so you’re not discovered. You are feeling very different, maybe withdrawn and quiet, and you’re asked to explain yourself, or you need to pretend that you are feeling fine, ready to go, full of life. In fact your life is at a low point, some terrible crossroad that you’d hoped never to reach. I’ve had down times, but that severely depressed feeling, the almost indescribable abandonment by all things that you’ve loved or enjoyed, that’s different and strongly motivating.
With time, the people who have loved you begin to give you distance, and may make assumptions why you place distance between you and them. To you, life feels like the people in your circles all have neat and tidy lives, but only my life is in the shitter, ruined and irretrievably broken. That feeling of defeat, sustained over several months led me to plan the end of my life.
I heard my own voice inside me grow strong, and the messages more frequent. “You’ve had no good sleep for over four years now.” I knew people who fell from functioning due to the same affliction, and there is a draining miasma of dying flesh that is your flesh. It’s around every corner, part of every breath telling you that your life is no longer fun and has no quality, little light.
Sometimes trying to find something to distract your mind helps to lift your mood. Other times unfortunately you are unable to distract the depressed mind, and you become obsessively focused on the reality that sleep is elusive and short lived. There is an anxiety surrounding bed time that begins about an hour before your body clock would have normally signaled “time to go bed.” Now the bedroom is no longer a place for relaxation, but it also is an unpleasant reminder of lost enjoyment, the comfortable, safe sanctuary, and the pleasant place where the phone, the internet, and the stress of your life isn’t supposed to follow you. It does follow you.
This might be where some people would drink alcohol or maybe seek street drugs in order to feel relief in a temporary escape of the loneliness and feeling of being a burden. It’s irrational, and it’s real. This is insomnia. This is the feeling that my doctor warned me about. He said “you’ve managed to keep going for quite a few years, but it’s time to think about your future given this pace of travel and no restful down time.” I could not tell him about the dark thoughts. I could not look him in the eye. I could not be honest with myself at first, so that meant that I could not gather the words to speak about what was happening. Was this self-abuse? Had I passed the point where I could chicken out? Was it what many others before me had felt before they put an end to their own miserable feelings and a life with no purpose?
I knew the doctor was correct, but I wondered why he cared about my case? Why couldn’t he have been like other doctors who simply wrote a paper prescription for a drug that would deaden my awareness, or medicate me to unconsciousness?
I’d seen this whole dysfunctional story before. This was my mother’s life. It’s how she had lived for about 20 years as I was growing up in her home. During the work week her habit was to drive home from her banking job, a career that she hated, and as a result she relied heavily on prescription Miltown tranquilizers in order to escape her own tortured feelings. Weeknights she’d almost bolt from the garage straight back to the bedroom and shut the door. We kids knew to be quiet, pray the phone didn’t ring, turn down the television set, and speak in whispers. Inside her closet were the Miltowns, the pills which she obtained in quantity years before Sam’s Club or CVS. Miltowns gave Mom several hours of unnatural sleep. Depending on how many she took, a few hours would pass until she would wake around 10pm, stumble into the living room of our small house where my sisters and I did our homework, and she’d ask us “where is my dinner?” I had to research today Miltown tranquilizers because you don’t hear about them much. Carter-Wallace was the company back in the late 1950s that introduced Miltown, an accidental drug originally used to preserve penicillin, but re-purposed for curing everyday ills. Doctors found Miltown was an effective relaxing agent, and Hollywood celebrated its arrival. Celebrities distributed the pills at parties in cocktails called “Miltinis.” Today we’d call it a “new normal,” like a decade ago when ads for prescription medicines hit television audiences in numbers, encouraging us to ask our doctors whether this new product was right for us. Does it give you a chill to hear the calm voices say “could produce side effects such as….” and then the long list of horrific and potent problems are listed. As a society, we’ve done a great disservice to ourselves by normalizing prescription drugs in TV commercials, like a toothpaste or feminine hygiene product. I find it disturbing that 90% of opioid prescriptions are written by US physicians. We’d rather treat symptoms than address anxiety and the fatigue caused by stress. We hire and promote people who sacrifice their existence in order to make the rent and maybe a little bit extra.
No good plans
With time to review what had been my final plan, and then to reflect, I’ve had the time to think about who would miss me, the holes I would leave in a few places, and what pain for those who love me. A few would have blamed themselves for not recognizing a non-existent sign. I would have caused loved ones to suffer because of my short-sighted choices. I’m still a depression sufferer, but I’ve come to realize that no good plans should be executed before you let someone in. When we assume that we are a burden, or when we have little to no purpose, we are devaluing the feelings of those we care about. In the darkest of times I’ve lost perspective about my life and its potential. I’ve taken for granted the love of good people who would have wanted to say good bye, and maybe offer me their perspective, one that I hadn’t considered. If you’re feeling deeply depressed, this post may have meaning for you. How do you cope? Do you have a perspective to share?