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I recently read a post entitled ‘Living With Depression’ on RarwWords, a great new site featuring awesome writers, worth checking out for sure. This particular post was written by Shawn Henfling and is a must read in my opinion. (Trigger warning: Depression, Suicide.) In this post I came across a line that made me feel as if I had just run face first into a wall of knowledge. I felt as if I had suddenly unlocked a piece of my struggles. He said many great things but for me, it was all in this one line “I can’t simply point to a day or an event as the cause or, perhaps, the first domino to fall.”
First domino to fall? My heart sank in the tiny milliseconds it takes for the eyes to see and the mind to process. I have never realized it before but I can identify the first domino that toppled over and resulted in a long spiraling pattern of destruction. I can place a pin in the moment that morbid thoughts crept in. When something inside, what should have been a child, clicked over to a monstrous beast who would kill to stay alive – though at the same time, cared nothing for her life.
That day I sat with the evil step-people and listened to a tale of a cowardly father, who drank his emotions and spent his riches on Coke. Oh how I wish I was speaking of soda but at last, I don’t know many people willing to snort that. So the story goes, he sat with his best friend Jack and a handgun at his side. Now, being a backwoods man, a riffle was his best friend, but it’s long barrel wouldn’t do for the job at hand. They say he sat by the side of the highway, trying to drink his cares away; foot hovering over the gas petal, waiting to pull-out in front of the passing semi-trucks.
He couldn’t bring himself to do it. No matter how horrible his transgressions in life may have been, there was no way he could risk ending a strangers life just so he could die. So instead he put the gun to his head and debated pulling the trigger, still swiggin’ off that bottle. I don’t remember the year, I don’t remember the age – some details I prefer to erase as I’m already so weighted down by the facts. He didn’t die that day but a part of me did when I had to listen to the tale, too young to understand the complexities of addiction, mental illness and suicide.
That day is when the first domino toppled over. I wanted to know why he felt this way; Why he loved drugs more than me; Why he’d want to choose death over me. I suppose that’s the day an inner mission began that even I wasn’t privy to at the time. Seemed no better way to know it than to live it. I drank, I smoked and snorted. I rose and I fell. I let the hard times beat me in many ways. I lived in my depression, without even realizing that’s where I was.
I knew the suicidal thoughts were wrong but I didn’t link them to depression. Somewhere in the chaos I had learned that when shit felt hard you turned to your drug of choice and easily said fuck it until the day comes when the drugs won’t work anymore and then you just take your life – the ultimate escape of your suffering. In my mind, suicide had become romanticized. I was in love with the idea of never having to feel again and in that, I understood why he sat in that truck, gun pointed at his head.
He felt unloved, he never felt understood and somewhere inside, he was clearly very broken. I’ve heard the tales of how he came to be, most often his father is blamed but I don’t know the truth one way or another. I only know that I can understand feeling that unloved and that misunderstood. I can understand not wanted to live because you think no one cares.
My family blamed everything on the drugs but no one could see the mental illness that lay beneath, hiding in the depths and constantly aiding in the destruction of his life. I honestly don’t blame the drugs, well maybe the Coke a little but not the marijuana, that’s probably the only time he wasn’t an ass – just saying. After living it myself I understood why he loved it so much. Outside of addiction, I understand why he chose it over me. Why it was better. It eased his pain, it made him smile and made him funny. It made him a guy everyone wanted to be around, the life of the party as I hear it. So I can understand why he did it. I mean, if he was high he wasn’t depressed and if he wasn’t depressed, he didn’t want to die and so, he lived.
I was fairly denied by my father as he felt he was by his – a real nice family tradition to pass on, isn’t it? In true fashion, unknown and unwanted by me, I stepped right in his place. My experimentation was all an attempt to understand my father and I’d say it worked well but it also gave me grave thoughts, ridiculous anxiety, a hole I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fill and a head, that’s not quite screwed on just right.
I’ve driven down the road, fantasizing about snatching the wheel and watching my life end as the world spins, earth over sky and back again, until my inner light goes dim. I’ve jumped into strangers cars, secretly hoping they are the person my mother had always warned me about. I’ve walked down the wrong streets, I’ve done whatever drug was presented before me and when I drank, I drank until the world went black and I mixed it with pills hoping not to wake up the next day. I could hold a gun and all I could see is the image of me pulling the trigger, barrel to temple. My thoughts were thick with this suicidal fog, that’s always stuck with me but was far more intense from late childhood through the teen years.
Shit I had never once thought of, before that day; leaving me to wonder, if the evil step-people hadn’t told me, a child, the details of something I never needed to know – would I still be this way? If that first domino had not fallen, would suicide still feel like an option, when I feel life is at its worst? If the idea that death is the answer when it feels like there’s no way out or when it feels like you can’t go on, wasn’t put into my head, then would my depression have been so bad?
I don’t imagine I’ll ever have an answer on that, not unless someone comes up with a time machine but it does make me think. We all know we should be careful with what small ears hear and likely, someone should have said, suicide is not the answer but they didn’t. I won’t make that same mistake and I ask that you don’t either. If your kids hear it on the TV, read it in a book, if it just pops up, the scenario really doesn’t matter, just be sure to let them know that it’s never the answer because sometimes, the things we leave unsaid are just as damaging as the things we should have never said.
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