I can’t remember if the sun was shining or not. All I remember are the tears and frantic texts to my friend. Sitting at the vista point alone. My plan was to cross the bridge and jump into the bay. The voices taunted me upon awakening..”today is the day” they chanted. Done deal. Depression defeated me in this moment. I had no fight left in me. My friends return texts were also frantic. I read them over and over hearing his voice…”don’t give up. Don’t you dare give up.” It felt like it was my only option. I could not go on living feeling this way.
It’s a useless desire to try and out run myself. No matter how fast I drive, how hard I run, how loud the music is my mind still churns. It tells me I am useless to those around me in this state. I am a burden. The world has no place for a pathetic soul such as me. The confines of my car. I control it. It’s not too big, too open where I am vulnerable to my reality. I sit as if I am resting. Sunglasses hide my tear stained eyes and the pain within. There is no rest. No serenity. No peace. I sit at a vista point overlooking the world below wishing to disappear. The guilt I feel having depression is killing me. The shame I carry is too heavy and it’s killing me. I crave relief. I am taunted by fantasies,That relief can be found at the bottom of the ocean,where I no longer need to remember to breathe.
I sat in the parking lot for over an hour. Contemplated what it would truly mean to jump. To end it all. I turned the ignition. I drove across the bridge no longer crying, but desperate to alleviate my pain. I parked again. I slowly got out of my car and walked to the entrance of the pedestrian walk way. I hesitantly took a few more steps. The wind whipped through my hair. The air was wet and cold on my face. I peered over the railing and looked down. Fear and relief collided. I thought of my husband. My best friend. I couldn’t leave him like this. I felt such guilt for what I have put him through all these years. I needed some help.
I returned to my car sobbing. I think I called my friend and was barely coherent. I told him I was going to drive to see my psychiatrist. I promised to go straight there. Upon my admission of the suicide plan, we called my husband and started the 5150 process. I was beside myself that I didn’t just jump. I didn’t want to go on like this. My husband drove to be with me. To sit with me at the ER waiting for my admittance to a psych hospital. I cried off and on half the night. I was overwhelmed and confused. How could this be happening to me again?
Cold stark white walls. Doors with no locks. Windows that do not open. Shoes with no laces. Nurses scurrying up and down hallways with medications in tow. Faint screams from the corner. Its approximately 4 steps from my bed to the bathroom. 8 steps from my bed to the door that leads to the chaos of a locked psych unit. I lay curled up as tightly as possible over one non fitted shit and under one blue blanket. I am cold. I am scared. Darkness has descended upon me for just about a month. My trust worthy psychiatrist opts for an additional medication, to which I am resistive at first. Some irrational thought has taken stage that 3 medications deems me crazy and possibly truly depressed. I continue to hold on to the notion that if I do nothing about this episode of depression, because I truly do have Bipolar Depression, then it will simply fade into the background and my smile and spunk will reappear. However, if my history is an indicator, which it most certainly is, doing nothing is a death sentence. I cannot pretend to not know how I landed here. Wicked voices intrude upon my mind at random intervals, but with enough punch for me to believe I have no strength against them. As painful as it is to reveal, my very own mind was searching and plotting for my demise.
Depression is real. For me, its like a snake wrapping itself around my being. Seductive as it slithers, round and round. Smooth and powerful it takes hold. With each pass, it eats away at my soul and fills me with self hatred. Light dissipates. I lose my voice. Heaviness embodies my limbs. Shame pulses in my veins. Strangled by the sheer raw power of depression, I succumb.
My first few days I slept and isolated. I could not bring myself to talk to staff. I couldn’t talk to anyone. All I could do was cry. My mind was playing tricks on me. I saw myself taking the white hospital sheet from my bed and wedging it in the doorway to hang myself. I was hallucinating. This is what I was supposed to do. This was my 2nd attempt at ending it all. However, what I had forgotten was staff check on the patients every 15 minutes. I was a failure. I couldn’t even kill myself. I was on the floor my face buried in my knees. I finally told the staff and they moved me to the room closest to the nurses station for my safety and put me on suicide watch. I couldn’t close my door as I had to be line of site. Was this rock bottom?
My meds were changed. I slept a lot. Slowly I came around and spoke to other patients and went to a few groups. I remember we went outside twice per day in the court yard. At first I simply sat in the sun. But by the time I was ready for discharge I was shooting baskets, playing ping pong and throwing a football with the male patients. I was still an athlete albeit a depressed one.
The white sheet haunted me for weeks. During another spell of hallucinations I saw myself hanging in our shed and could hear the drop of a ladder. This felt so personal. All my suicide plans took place outside my home. I would never want my husband to come home and find me. That wasn’t fair, never mind me wanting to no longer exist wasn’t fair either. Around this same time I was also seeing myself disappear into the river that runs through my town. I was hearing voices telling me I would look great at the bottom of the river. It almost felt like a rite of passage at this stage of my depressive episode. It made total sense to me but also frightened me to my core. My own mind was conspiring against me.
By this time I was on several medications. I do not like that I must take meds. It’s a requirement for me. My suicidal ideation is too intense and my impulsivity to grand to warrant a medication free life.
Angry tears blur my eyes, but not my vision. I still see my “medication shelf” as a root of failure. It is time for bed and my routine consists of brushing my teeth and taking my nite meds. For the most part, I do this as matter of ritual not thinking, just doing. However, on this particular occasion I cannot stop staring and judging the tiny shelf in the hallway closet that houses my psychotropic medications. The width of this closet is probably only 1 foot, yet it feels like a deep cavern full of dark shadows that hosts my inner demons from time to time. The voice inside my head leaps out from behind the plastic bottles of pills and reveals I am flawed, crazy, broken, quite possibly beyond repair. 2 steps from the closet is the bathroom mirror, it too reflects an insufficiency. Self hatred rises and falls in those tears. Relief from this inward dissension can only be found in sleep.
Self hatred is reborn in the early morning hours. Begrudgingly, I open the hallway closet door to take my morning medications. As I survey my shelf, my minds eye also takes note of other treatments within this cavern. Cough syrup, band aids, and Ibuprofen all take up space. Yet, I do not hold these remedies as failures, rather cures for what ails me. Not only do I take them willingly, but with an expectation of getting better. Why do I not allow myself this same peace of mind when it comes to my “shelf?” Medicine, for me, is part of the process of becoming whole again. It is a small task within my day that I can control, that I can take a role in to take care of myself.
My depression runs deep. It continues to claw and tear at my soul. Scatter chatter rummages through my mind searching for failures and inadequacies sometimes every minute of every day, but sometimes not. There is no cure for depression, but there is armor I can use to protect myself at least a little bit. It is found on a shelf in my hallway, in my house, where I am in charge.
Following my hospitalization I went to an outpatient program for 1/2 the day. It consisted of group therapy and education on various mental health topics. It was the treatment team at this program that changed my diagnosis of major depression to bipolar disorder. I did not want to be bipolar. But I did want to understand what was going on with me.