A long time ago, I found myself laying on a bed. Staring at the ceiling. For days. Without eating or drinking or moving or sleeping or even talking. The only thought that went through my head on those days was – please, God, please hurry up and let me die.
If I lived another second – it was one second too long. Every breath brought more internal pain. And more anger that I wasn’t dead yet. My mind was betraying my body – willing it to leave this world…and I was powerless to stop it.
So was everyone else around me. I’ll never forget my own mother kneeling beside me, holding a small cup of juice – literally begging me to drink just one sip.
I shook my head no. How could I tell her that my mind knew that drinking and eating would prolong my existence?
I swear I nearly literally saw her heart break in her eyes in that moment – when even her begging couldn’t make me want to live.
I was hollow. Bone and flesh with my spirit seemingly gone. There was no color in my world anymore…everything had turned black. Even when the sun was out I lived in darkness. Living in my own skin brought nothing but desperation – to try to get out of it.
When the fog lifted due to meds…I was pissed beyond rage. My whole life I was a pillar of strength. I was the one who people came to when they were struggling. I held my mother up as my brothers nearly drove her insane with their antics. I was the only friend she had. Most days, I felt like I carried the world on my shoulders – and I liked it.
It gave me meaning. A purpose. Something to be proud of. A reason for some worth. I could be and do it all. Nothing could stop me. I had my perfect life all planned out. I told myself and everyone around me I was happy and okay – and again, perfect.
Yet I cried myself to sleep every night without anyone ever knowing it. I held in the depression, fears, insecurities, angers, and hurts – and faked it every single day so no one would know I was dying on the inside.
Mental pain wasn’t understood in my house. Nor was it wanted or welcomed or addressed. Denial was just easier.
It was exhausting. To lie. Smile and laugh. To pretend I was someone I wasn’t. To act like I was feeling joy when I never was.
And then Rambo came along when I was 15 and I knew then what true joy and happiness and love was. Little by little – only for him – the pain would come out. I’d scream to him, “Why do you love me? I am not good enough for you. I will only hurt you. Please let me take my own life to spare you future pain. I am not worth it.”
He’d take my face in his hands and tell me the opposite until I could believe even a tiny part of it and let go of some of the pain in his arms until I couldn’t weep anymore.
Then he’d do it all again the next day…because no matter how hard he tried my heart just could not understand or accept his love.
Eventually, in small pieces - I believed. Our love grew. I started to realize that fairy tales existed and we planned our wedding. I stopped crying myself to sleep at night. I was finally safe. No one could hurt me as long as Rambo was my shield.
We married. That was the day I moved out of my parent’s home and into my own with Rambo. I’d never done laundry or kept a house in my life. I bought a new car a week before this. I got a new job that same week. I graduated from college a few months prior. I had a best friend for my life partner.
And I ended up in a living coma. On that bed – unable to care about living or breathing.
I had to be literally carried out of my new job by nurses to my mom’s car. The depression had made me too weak to even walk on my own. Rambo was a million miles away – across the country in a semi.
Much of those days are gone from my memory…probably to protect myself. I do remember standing in front of a medical doctor screaming “WHY??? There is nothing wrong in my life. Everything is wonderful and on plan…why now? What the hell is going on?”
I remember him saying, “Your body can’t distinguish good stress from bad stress…and you just accomplished in 2 months what most people do in a 5 or 10 year plan. Your mind and your body cannot take it. They are shutting down – and you haven’t been listening.”
F*ck you. My mind nearly screamed F*CK YOU….at a man who I now see was right. Back then though - I thought he was crazier than even I was.
When the fog lifted and I was told that therapy would help me even further – I went. I was supposed to be telling her what was wrong and how I got to this place of hell and when she’d ask, “What is bothering you?” – I remember making shit up or scrambling to find something – because nothing was wrong.
I had everything a person on this Earth could need and want. My mind would scream to myself – how dare you fall into a depression when you lack for nothing and others out there are really suffering. You are ungrateful, selfish and weak.
I’d also beg my therapist to promise me that I’d never feel that way again. The way I felt in those weeks on that bed – unable to give a damn about anything except dying. She said she could never guarantee that and I hated her for that.
She had no reasons why this happened. No trauma. No disaster. No heartbreak.
So since that day – 16 years ago – I have hid my diagnosis and history from nearly everyone I know. No one in my professional life knows. Even my own brothers were told by my mother that I had a bad case of the flu. I was hidden….until I recovered enough to join the living.
I’ve always felt like if I could just find the reason it happened – I could maybe find closure. Maybe understand why I fell into that black hole and almost never made it back out. But no one – not even medical professionals could figure out why a seemingly perfect life was on the edge of death in an instant.
For 16 years, I have still continued to ask why. Why then – when things were picture perfect? Like if there’s a real “why” – then maybe there will be less shame and guilt.
Yesterday a dear friend gave me a reason that I have never been given before. And when I read it in her email – my heart nearly stopped. I am fairly certain I lost my breath for a moment.
I’m adding words to hers but this is what my heart heard. She basically said this, “It happened then because you were finally safe with Rambo. Your mind finally knew you were in a safe enough place to let it all out. Your heart finally knew you could let the walls down and stop holding it in like you had been for years. The depression/feelings were always there – but you suppressed them because you knew it wasn’t safe to actually feel them and go through them. Until you left what you knew and moved in with Rambo and you belonged to something safe. Your mind and body couldn’t hold them in any longer . Imagine the exhaustion of that. You saw your first chance to be the true you with true hurt and anger – and years of it came out – all at once. Your chemicals were screwed….and recovery wasn’t going to be easy. But continuing to live like you were would have killed you just the same.”
Such a simple answer to why and the timing. I cannot believe that I didn’t figure this out before. It makes such perfect sense.
My depression has basically been in remission for a good 10 years or so. Completely controlled with just a few ups and downs due to specific triggers. I am truly happy 99% of the time and even feel peace.
But today – because of the words from a friend – I have a whole different kind of peace. It’s like the mystery is solved. I found the missing piece of the puzzle.
I can finally pinpoint the timing and reason for the pain. I can’t explain what that feels like after all this time.
The confusion seems gone. The unanswered question. The elephant in the room of my mind has left the building.
The moral of the story here? Fight your fears to reach out and do it anyway. Tell your story to someone you’ve never told it to before. And listen to their reaction and thoughts – because they may see something no one else ever could. Even decades later….you can still heal.
There is mutual healing in sharing pain with another.
Stop hiding. Stop laying blame at your own feet and move on…..through the words of another who loves you. Trust in that. It’s there – if you dare to look for it.
Take the risk and be vulnerable. It could change your life. Even 16 years later.