I will sit with you in the dark.

I spent at least a year wanting to die.

I figured I should just come out and say it, because it is true, and because it has been a long time since wanting to die was a thing I felt, and because I want you to know that I know.  I really, really know.

I am telling you so that maybe you will believe that I understand and that you can talk to me, and maybe let me hold a little candle or a match or a minuscule LED light bulb for you in the dark.

The first few months of Ollie’s injury were too crazy for me to feel much of anything.  Life was a series of impossible, critical tasks that were performed through the miracles of coffee and adrenaline.  We fell in a rabbit hole for a while and our family was spread out across the country.  After a few months we came back together and that’s when I began to despair.  Life didn’t get easier very quickly.  Every day was a marathon of appointments for Ollie, school, daycare and extracurricular activities for the kids.  The drugs made him angry, distant, closed down, and juvenile.  He kind of hated me for a while.  I lost hope.

I tried to document as much of our experience as possible, in a million scribbled and typed notes.  Here is one:

I am in the commissary and I want to die.

What’s next on the list? 

Bananas. 

I want to die.

I place the death bananas in the basket and move on to the next item.

Toilet cleaner. 

I want to die.

Sometimes I interrupt myself.

No, I don’t want to die. I want to live.

I am not in physical pain but I move like everything hurts. Everything does hurt. I am an open, gaping, nasty, rotten wound from head to toe. I smile at everyone I pass. I check things off the list.

Ooh, butter’s on sale!

I want to die.

No, I don’t want to die. I want to live and eat butter and clean the toilet.

I want to die, but I don’t want to kill myself. There’s a difference that not many people would understand. And, if possible, I will step out of Death’s way.  But I’m tired and I want to be done.  The voice that wants to die is the very same one that was more than a little jealous when my friend’s race was done. She could sleep and not worry about all of this. About fucking bananas and butter and toilet cleaner, week after goddamn week.

I have one friend who understands the nuance of wanting to die without wanting to kill myself.  We haven’t talked in weeks because she is mad at me.  I have betrayed her. I understand why she feels this way. I don’t feel that I have betrayed her. Our best friendship is at a standstill.

I call her. I know she’s not doing so great either and I miss her and this is stupid. Plus, there’s no one else I can tell that I want to die without freaking them out. I am just tired.

‘Hey. When I called earlier I was going to ask about how you were doing but now I want to die.’

She chuckles the way we do and asks why.

‘Um…. Butter?’

We talk for a while.  She’s having a mother crisis—that one where you think you’re completely incompetent and they would be better off without you and maybe you should send them somewhere better for them because you’ve gone and fucked the whole thing up.

We catch up and  both feel better.

Later she helps me rephrase the whole wanting to die thing.

‘It’s not that you want to die, it’s that you don’t want to live like this anymore.’

Brilliant. Epic. Lifechanging. Yes, I can do that.  I can say that. It’s positive and allows me some space to make some changes so things are more bearable. I don’t have to buy death bananas if I don’t want to, and I can have a career and education and I can change the world, bitches.  I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to live like this anymore.

For a couple of days it works. I stave off that boa constrictor of panic with the talisman of my new mantra. I am able to wash the dishes, talk to my children and cook dinner (mostly) without wanting to die.

I know I am in trouble, though, when the anxiety ramps up so much that I can’t complete the thought.

It’s not that I want to die, it’s that I don’t want to live…

Square one.”

It took many more months of personal work, the team efforts of a therapist, a chiropractor, my friends (most of whom didn’t know how badly I struggled), and some dietary changes before my desire to live rekindled.  I eventually stumbled, crawled, (dragged myself by my fingernails) along the path to a better place.

I’m not really sure how or when it happened, but one day a couple of years ago I was driving along and I realized, “Hey!  I don’t want to die!”  It was rather anticlimactic for a moment I wasn’t sure I would ever see.

Your life and experiences are not mine, but I still offer my story as a tiny beacon of hope.  Hope that it doesn’t always have to be this difficult, hope that you will find your way out of the darkness, hope for healing.

Hope that you will defeat your own death bananas and find yourself enjoying a brighter day.

Until then, I will sit with you in the dark.

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6 Responses to I will sit with you in the dark.

  1. Michael Gardner says:

    Hi Megan,

    I followed you through all of that, and never had any idea you felt that way. That’s the insidious thing about depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s often easy to hide.

    With your permission I would like to send this to my friend, Gracie (Grace) Rose. She is an eighth grader, can’t stand most of the students and drama and teachers at her high school, and would really like to home school herself. (The school problem is not just 100% her. Another friend, Rachel, attended the same school. She missed so much class time due to migraines she failed everything and had to drop out. The social drama was so crazy when she went back that she couldn’t learn. Mage went home and homeschooled herself through her last year and a half of high school in less than a year, with basically no parental assistance.)

    Last year Grace’s mom died. Then she found out she has a debilitating genetic problem with joints, especially her knees. She has knee braces she should wear daily as I do, but that’s not what cool 8th grade girls do. The doctor has recommended surgery to permanently lock at least one of her knees so it will never bend again. She has done about all she can with physical therapy. And that’s only part of her story.

    This week, today I think, Grace will see a therapist to begin therapy and to see if she can get a prescription for an antidepressant. I’m not in favor of that for an 8th grader, but her deepening depression has been going on for nearly a year.

    Though I once had a period of a few months of depression I never considered suicide. I have not walked that road. I appreciate your willingness to share your experience and be there for others. I also understand and respect that your intent and focus is towards veterans.

    I’m glad you had a friend to walk with you through the darkness and help you clarify what you were feeling. This world would certainly be darker without your light. I think you will work effectively with the hurting.

    Continue to be a blessing, Megan. Go light your world.

    http://www.christianlyricsonline.com/artists/kathy-troccoli/go-light-your-world.html

    Keeping you in my prayers,

    Mike Gardner

    “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.” Philippians 4 http://www.memorialdrive.orghttp://www.tulsaworkshop.org/

    • Megan says:

      Hi there! Do you want me to publish this comment, or would you rather I just reply to you? You are welcome to send this to her. I typically write for an older audience, but if you think she can handle it, by all means share. I am sorry she is having such a terrible time. So many things for a young person to have to accept. I am glad she is looking into meds. There is nothing wrong with getting a little help to get out of the pit.

  2. srdolan44 says:

    I have had times in my life where I felt like this. Glad you pulled thru!!!

  3. Ain'tnomountainhighenough says:

    I didn’t know and that makes me really, really sad. I can’t even put it into words. And kinda pissed off at the same time (all with love, of course) that you felt that way.

    I will eat french fries and a frosty with you. I will sit with you in the dark. And I will never give up on you. Like Aretha said “If you need me call me no matter where you are/ No matter how far, don’t worry baby/ Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry/ You don’t have to worry”. (And now you have that song stuck in your head. You’re welcome) Love you ❤

  4. Stephanie says:

    I had the same kind of aha moment in the car. About 6 months after my husband left I was sitting at a stop sign stressed out, clenching my teeth and feeling totally overwhelmed. Then I sat back and thought…wow. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. When I was married I felt like this All. The. Time. Overwhelmed. Stressed out. It wasn’t until I felt that stress again that I realized I had moved forward. Achieved a level of calm and satisfaction. The calm creeps up on you as does the stress.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I know somewhat how this feels. My death bananas are different, and I’ve never been able to articulate them in this manner, so thank you.

    Now that I’ve made the decision I’ve waited 10 years to make, maybe I will finally be living.

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