Life isn’t fair.
This is one of those overriding laws of the universe where, as humans, we’re either never happy with what we’ve got, or we strive for better. It’s rare that a person is ever able to live in the present, and appreciate all that they have, without somehow looking to the future at how their life could be better, or at the past to reference how much better or worse off they are now. One thing’s for sure, it’s not easy to stop and simply drink in the now.
That is, unless you suffer from depression.
Personally, I believe depression to be a weight you carry, not a polarising emotional state as some paint it as. It’s a weight that starts its life simply enough, through a small sense of yearning, or sorrow, or heart break. For a lot of people, this weight is easily managed, and can be carried around for a lifetime if need be, but tends to reduce over time. However for others, letting go isn’t so easy.
What starts off as a small, manageable weight, gradually builds over time. This weight numbs a person to reason, it becomes the focus of their lives, as I’m sure is within the realms of everyone’s imagination, a weight so large tends to be all encompassing. It forces you into a corner, makes your very existence claustrophobic and almost impossible to bear.
So in your state of panic, you look for a way out
A small glimmer of light, wherever it presents itself, that is where your focus begins to train itself. That is where you see sanctuary from this insurmountable burden. That is your release.
I’m in my second year of University, living with two of my best friends, who also happen to be two of the best human beings alive, I have a steady evening job, and am performing well in my studies. In hindsight, I look back and see every day in this environment is a blessing, however at the time the world didn’t even see me.
The world saw my mask. A character I played on a daily basis as a means of holding the world at arm’s length. Created with the sole purpose of ensuring that I could hide without anyone questioning where I was.
I lived a life of forced smiles and tom-foolery, always the joker as it was the only character that no-one questioned, as their up-beat demeanour seemingly diminished the need for probing questions to be asked. However, my inner monologue was one filled with pain, torment, and anguish.
My friends had decided to go home for the weekend, giving me free reign of the house for this time, not that I’d need it. It meant that as my thoughts became darker, and the small glimmer of release became almost blinding, there was no one around to talk me down.
I learned two valuable lessons that day.
- Whatever you think your body needs to ingest for it to stop functioning, triple it.
- Nothing in this life hurts like the regret of trying taking yourself away from your friends and family.
I have no idea just how long I was unconscious, I only remember waking up in a great deal of pain. My stomach was cramping, my throat was sore, my eyes were burning. It felt as though my entire body was on fire.
I thought this was my penance, the price I had to pay for giving up, for being selfish and stupid. Little did I know that this was but a drop in the ocean compared to what was to come.
The truth is, suicide is easy.
Anyone can make the decision to simply not be here anymore, anyone can decide that there’s no more reason for them to be here, but the truth is the act itself was never intended to be hard. Humans are terminally fragile creatures, hell we’re only top of the food chain because we have access to tools that make that a reality.
The hard part is staying.
To have the weight of the world upon your chest, the incandescence of that opportunistic light shining brightly in your eyes, and still fighting hard against it. That is life’s true challenge.
As I said before, depression is a weight. As with any muscle, the more you carry a weight, the easier that weight becomes to handle, and as that weight grows, so too does your strength and resolve to handle that burden. Sure, there will be times when you falter, there will be times when you simply want to take a knee and let yourself be consumed by the darkness, but the decision to keep pushing, keep moving, keep fighting. That is strength.
Personally, depression is something I have grown accustomed to in my life. That’s not to say that I don’t have moments of pure joy, as every moment I spend on the mats practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu feels like a blessing, every moment I get to spend with my twin brother lifts my soul, the time I spend speaking to all of the wonderful people in my life fills me with nothing but hope, passion, and drive to be more than I am.
That being said, there hasn’t been a single week in the past 10 years that I haven’t thought about killing myself.
The only difference between now and back then is, I know what’s important in my life, and I know how important I am to other people. Because here’s the real truth about suicide. When you’re in that mind-frame, all you will think about is how taking yourself away from people will solve all their problems; however, surviving such an attempt gives you the privilege of hindsight, and it’s only then that you find out that it’s not about what you’re taking away that matters, it’s what you’re leaving behind.
It’s not what you’re taking away that matters, it’s what you’re leaving behind
Once I’d regained a semblance of coherency on waking up, my thoughts didn’t go back to wanting to be dead, to my darkness, they fell solely on my mother.
The look on her face when she received a call to say that her child had decided that taking their own life was preferable to speaking to her. That I was so ashamed of who I was, and so concerned with how she thought about me, that I’d rather die than hear her disappointed.
My thoughts then turned to my housemates who would be the ones who would have found me. How that image would haunt them for the rest of their lives, and again, how this was my preference to simply taking down my mask and letting them see me.
I cycled through all my family, all my friends, all my co-workers. The regret and lament I experienced in those hours are the worst I’ve ever felt. In this moment, my being Trans didn’t matter, because I had become a different kind of monster in my mind, as how could someone so ready to subject their friends and family to such torment be anything but a monster?
It’s almost been ten years since that day, and whilst I cannot say that I’ve never been back to the place I was mentally when I made that decision, what I can say is that the thought of leaving any of my loved ones behind is more than enough to hold my sword.
That being said, I am comfortable with my mortality, and when my day eventually comes I will welcome the embrace of that darkness with open arms. Until then, life is both my prize and my sentence. It is my choice to be here, and as such, I will be making the most of the time I have been gifted.
Mental Health is an oft overlooked subject, especially amongst men and transgender individuals. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, I urge you to speak to someone. Anyone. You’d be surprised at both how understanding and compassionate the people who care about you are, and how freeing it can be to share the load of your burden.
Give the love you wish to receive, project the positivity you wish you had, and most importantly: