WARNING: This article may be triggering for some people, please use caution. I share very openly about my journey with depression and suicide. If you’re feeling unsafe at the moment, maybe read it another time. Lifeline is a great service you can call if you need to… 13 11 14. You are precious and important in this world, despite what awful words that grey cloud will whisper in your ear. x Jade
It's the closing of your eyelids when the morning is too much
The sinking of your stomach as obligations pile up
It's the pointlessness, the nothing, the existential dread
The fear of being lonely, but never leaving bed
It’s the quietening of your soul as that grey cloud seeks you out
A silencer, a diminisher, leaving you without
Distraction doesn’t hide it, there’s nothing you can grasp
Sensations chasing listlessness and challenge in every task
Fleeting strategies and tricks, to will away the time
Tomorrow should be better, after all, I’m in my prime
It's proud and triumphant, yet heavy and grey
Lingering histories just won't get out of the way
It's not all dark and gloomy, at times it's rather bright
Grateful that I changed the plans I made, in the darkest of the nights
We hope for happy endings, the movies taught us well
What is often missed in stories, is this living hell
Millions that surround us, all suffering the same
Inescapable grey cloud above us, depression, is it’s name.
I’ve suffered depression, probably for most of my life, the intensity of the cloud wavers under varying circumstances. Sometimes it’s chemical, hormonal, sometimes it’s situational and circumstances are the major contributor. But the little black dog remains ever present.
I remember the first time I attempted to end my life. I was 12 years old. I had read, or heard my mum say that if you take too much selenium you could die. It was a passing, fleeting remark, and there is no control over what sticks in a young person’s mind. I found the tablets and took, I don’t know, maybe 10. I remember feeling surprised and a little disappointed to wake up the next morning. When I tell this story I laugh a little bit, at the idea of ‘death by supplement’. If we can’t make morbid jokes to get through this life, I don’t know what’s left. We all end up at the same place, people.
At that time, I often felt deathly afraid in the night time. I was sure that satan himself was standing at my bed. (Why he’d have beef with a kid with a mullet in Mangatangi, NZ, I don’t really know.) I had those night terror things where you’re stuck in between asleep and awake, so I would scull back Benadryl to try and speed up the terrifying time, just before slumber.
I guess this behaviour followed me into life, where I consistently seek ways to numb the pain of existence. I know it sounds dramatic, but I think there are just certain personalities and types of humans who are susceptible to this lingering sorrow. I just happen to be one of them, so instead of being ashamed and trying to find a cure, I embrace it as a part of me, and I manage it.
There’s a perfect moment, just once a day. When you first wake up. When your consciousness knows it’s alive, but before your mind starts worrying, and feeling sad about it. Some days, it feels unmanageable, but I’m still alive, so I’ve done OK so far. The longer I live, the more proud I am of my efforts to stick it out. Because I usually run on the eagerness to please and perfectionism, the idea of letting someone down, creating a mess, or being annoying is what usually stops me. I always say “The depression has tried to kill me, and anxiety has saved my life”.
This journey has been tumultuous, I’ve learned to live with this cloud. I’ve made a few plans, but rarely seen them through. That makes me disappointed, and feel like a failure. The irony. It’s just better if we let it happen how it will happen. Experiencing the loss of a loved one by self harm, is unthinkably painful. I think the really uncomfortable part of depression and suicide, isn’t necessarily the death itself, it’s the mirror it provides for our selves. That someone would feel so sad that they would want to go to sleep and never wake up. “What could I have done? What part did I play in someone else choosing that?” we ask. Sometimes, there is nothing. If you’re wondering what the magic solution is, (and don’t we love a pill to fix things) I just don’t have an answer. But what I do know that genuine connection and love makes a big difference in the decision making process, and jokes. Humour helps me a LOT. You can be more open and honest and allow discussion to be less uncomfortable. Participating in a work morning tea for RUOK day does not make you a good friend to those with depression. Turning up with flowers, or buying someone lunch, or asking difficult questions allllll year round is what’s helpful.
I have learnt, like many others, how to pull out of a funk. But this. This seems different. At this current time, enduring pain and health challenges with Chiari, financial and employment difficulty, it’s some of my darkest days. Enduring the battles with institutions - processes in the workplace, insurance, the medical system… the dark cloud has crept in, and slowly suffocates the part of me that holds onto hope.
The shape of me is shifting. The darkness compounds, as the uncertainty breeds. There is nothing much that I know for sure. The safety of my place in life as I have built it, is crumbling. The rejection, the fight, the hardship and change seems to only serve to decrease my spirit. I have to fight hard to keep it alive.
The only thing I have is love, really. My kids, my lover, the friends that truly care, (you certainly find out who can’t) family and favourites, I am certainly #blessed with some amazing people, and certainly disappointed with others.
I have love. This is all I know. And actually, it’s all you should strive to know too.
Nothing in your hands is promised.
What I can see, is how this situation is the start of a spiral into hardship. If I wasn’t so well connected with loved ones, if I hadn’t known that I should work hard on relationships above all else…this is the start of the end for many women. A health crisis, leads to financial crisis, leads to mental health crisis, leads to disconnection, leads to poverty, leads to homelessness and a life unwelcome has descended upon you.
All I would ask, is that you go gently with your judgements on those around you. They too suffer the grey cloud, and some don’t know how to get out.
Sentimental, just one gene away from sadness
I flip between the two in madness
Confused and fighting in the essence of my soul
Realizing the despair is what makes me whole
How would I know the beauty of joy without deepest sorrows?
How could I know soothing forgiveness if I never felt the heat of rage?
If I'd not truly known the nothing, I'd never feel the scarcity of something.