Monday, March 24, 2014

on resilience, depression, and being deeply beautifully weird and also alive

I began having suicidal thoughts as a child. The thoughts grew large or diminished, but desiring to not be a living person was always there at the back of my brain, as a big presence or a wisp of an idea, in some form, always.

When I was a little kid, I shut down. I was blank. Despite everyone's best efforts to knock the “weird” out of me, I managed to hide a kernel of my self hoping that some day I would find it and tend it. That was brave and hopeful of me. To my family I was simple, dumb, blank, hapless, a loser. The real me was internal and far away for safe keeping.

Middle school was a nightmare. I managed to endure and didn't die.

High school was a horror story. I wanted to die, but I didn't.

College was fraught with crisis and fear, and though I never got a degree, neither did I walk in front of any of the tractor trailer trucks that sped past me on my walks to campus, nor did I throw myself over the bridge railing into the Stillwater River. At one point I stopped leaving my apartment. I stopped going to school and to work so I wouldn't be tempted to walk into traffic. Though refusing to leave my apartment didn't do much for my academic career or endear me to my boss, it did positively impact my alive-ness, so really, I won.

After I had my daughter I knew suicide wasn't an option. This didn't make me happy, but I was resigned. When my son was born four years later, I realized my son was such a quirky little goober, he needed me more than anyone else ever would. I really really couldn't die. My life was a life sentence. 

Two and a half years ago my depression intensified. I will gloss over the ugly details. Suffice it to say, suicidal ideation was a vestigial twin, or maybe my depression became a giant soul sucking parasite. The parasite metaphor works better, but I love the image of a vestigial twin, a pair of wizened legs hanging weirdly from my hip. Maybe my depression was like one of those hairy, toothy teratoma horror tumors...anyway....I confided in my husband, he encouraged me to get help. I got help. The depression lifted and, hello, I'm still here, holding my excised vestigial twin, sucking parasite or hairy toothy depression horror tumor in a jar of formalin like a freak show oddity or a gruesome souvenir. Whatever, the fact is, I'm resilient. I'm still alive.

I feel like I've gone through life with both hands tied behind my back, blindfolded, gagged, in a sack, beaten unconscious. It's hard to get much done bound, gagged, blindfolded, in a sack, unconscious. This state of being doesn't often support much in the way of lasting achievement, or personal growth. Not dying, taking care of my kids and having a shadow of a personality, these things might seem like pathetic signs of resilience, but for me, being alive, being a good mother, and being able to regrow a self like regrowing a liver from a few cells of salvaged tissue feels like something.

**Several hours later it dawns on me that I might sound self-indulgent, selfish, whiny  and ungrateful. But depression is a real shit fucking crap sucker who sticks his thumbs in your eyes and keeps you from seeing things as they are. It's only after you've kicked depression in the nads that you realize what a freaking awesome gift it is be be here. So, anyway. Just wanted to put that out there. 

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