TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide. I strongly recommend that you don't read further if you cannot deal with morbid thoughts.
DISCLAIMER: I was diagnosed for Recurrent Depressive Disorder in October 2019 after ignorantly dragging myself through it for 7 years. This was caused by vitamin deficiencies and several environmental factors. I saw a doctor, I got on medication, and I am well. When I die, I assure you it will be of natural causes. Whatever you're about to read is how I lived my life from February 2019 to September 2019, when my condition was at its worst.
First things first- if I'm suicidal, I might just be thinking about dying. I might just have morbid thoughts. I might not end up killing myself.
Do you even know how difficult it is to kill yourself? Firstly, you'll Google it like an idiot. And Google being the smart thing that it is, will give you phone numbers to a helpline and links to forums or some motivational stuff (that you're clearly not interested in).
Next, you'll think of all the Crime Patrol ways of committing suicide.
Shall I hang from the fan? I'm not sure if I can do the knot right and I don't want to find out if the fan can actually hold my weight. What if it all comes crashing down? What if, when they find me, they'll judge me for how fat I've become? No, skip.
I have zero courage to jump off my building. Even less courage (if that's possible) to slit my wrists. Blood is too gory and I'm afraid of pain.
I wish stores actually sold bottles with a 'POISON' label on it. You know, like a 1980-90s movie. Also, I'm not sure if I can actually procure some kind of pesticide that's strong enough. I don't think I'm cut out for dying "farmer style" out of debt-ridden desperation. I know that the human body is wired to protect itself. So halfway down, I might end up puking uncontrollably and just barely survive. At best, I might get cockroach spray, but my 12th-grade chemistry teacher stressed a hundred times that the Bayer's Reagent that kills cockroaches was originally developed to kill Jews during the holocaust. It's famous for knocking out cockroaches and useless against human beings. That's the only chemistry I learnt that I still use in life.
If I had a diamond large enough to swallow, I'd sell it and get the money for therapy, actually.
So I'm out of ideas.
I aggressively wish I could die quietly and without fuss. Like, I wish I'll die when I'm falling asleep. But when I wake up, I'm still alive. It's disappointing. I eat a chocolate or two or twenty. I go from feeling 'mildly better' to 'WTF did I just do?!' in the span of a few hours. It might kill me someday but it won't kill me now. Again, quite useless.
Then I'm lying in bed again and wondering what needs to be taken care of in the off-chance that I die. I suddenly remember that my diaries and notebooks will be completely exposed. My mom might end up reading stuff that no mom should be reading.
Then a new concern arises- someone will have to look into my bank statements, credit card bills, taxes, whatnot. I can't stand being judged for ordering food online all the time. I know none of this will matter to me after I'm gone but it bothers me that someone in my family will get to see what I am really like. I've spent my whole life hiding from them. Am I about to undo 28 years of hard work?
Maybe there is something I can do to live. I will have to work and earn money and do the boring stuff. But maybe I can find something to do that I really like as well? So I download an app to learn... Spanish! Perfect. Spanish is perfect. There is something I feel that seems like excitement. It's not exactly excitement, but I can live with it.
Now I have new stuff to binge-watch on Netflix. La Casa de la Flores, Betty en NY. As you can see, I am temporarily saying "Mucho gusto!"
But I have notorious talent for grasping language and before you know it, I'm composing suicide notes in Spanish. No bueno.
Then, just as a side-effect of owning a smartphone, I get hazaar calls, SMSes and WhatsApp messages. Most of them are vasooli calls from credit cards, 'FLAT 50% OFF' SMSes and "Importance of Suryanamaskaar" videos. But sometimes, these calls and messages are from real people. People I'm hiding from. Every call I reject is a pretence that I'm too busy or too not-bothered. I'm pretending to be working, I'm pretending to be eating, I'm pretending to be in a meeting, I'm pretending to be in the loo. Basically, I have 7 years of experience of covering up for my "dark phases".
Mostly, people can't tell I'm going through something. I've made sure that they feel like they're not good enough for me, or I will just call them back at a later time. Some people get pissed off with me and write me off. I prefer losing them at this point than talking to them and explaining what I'm going through. What am I going to say? I don't know what to live for? They will either send me to a 16th-century style mental asylum or sermonize about how my feelings don't matter in the big picture. No, thank you.
Also, have I told you about my panic attacks yet? All stimulus is a panic attack.
Kaam wali aunty rings the doorbell in the morning - SHIT SHIT SHIT! It's already morning? It's already tomorrow? Yesterday I thought everything will get better later, and it's already later? I should be talking to another human being and pretend that everything is fine for the next 60 minutes? *Panic attack*
Have lunch and get a little hungry after a few hours - Oh no, there's no food to eat. I don't want to cook but I'm hungry. Should I order something online? Wait, let's do that. I pick this. No, I pick this. But this is unhealthy and that is expensive. I'm getting my OTP. SHIT SHIT SHIT I'm spending money but will I be earning any? *Panic attack*
Phone rings. Panic attack.
Unread emails. Panic attack.
"Hi, long time. How are you doing?" Panic attack.
Boyfriend wants to watch a movie with me. Panic attack.
I see how I look in the mirror. Panic attack.
I open my laptop and not know what to do first. Panic attack.
This is crippling. No days are better than others. If anything, some days are worse than this. Am I stuck in a rut or am I just useless? Because I think of all the things I promised people and I realize "I can't really do that. Have you seen me? I'm useless!"
So I sentence myself to being useless. I don't trust myself enough to do anything. I pick up washed underwear and I can't even fold them right. See? I'm useless.
I hold a pen and I have tremors. I'm useless.
I said I would write/edit/publish/post something and I can't even read through a sentence without losing track of thoughts. I told you I'm useless.
Now that I'm convinced that I'm useless, I'm wondering if I even deserve to live? Do I matter? I mean, I have mass and I occupy space. That's the only way I might matter. BUT DO I MATTER? Surely, based on my completely objective assessment of how useless I am, I don't matter. And I surely don't deserve to live. I'm just a waste of space and resources.
Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. Bills pile up, work evaporates, layers of fat accumulate, I bleed, I heave dry sobs, I try to cry and fail. Most days I'm very upset that I didn't die in my sleep. I borrow money. People give willingly. I'm waiting for someone to say 'No.' I'm waiting to be pushed to a corner so that death will be my ONLY choice. Ultimately, I might not end up killing myself, but hopefully, I'll die of starvation sooner. But I know that won't happen. I'm too visible. Someone will take care of me.
I wish I could talk to the dozens and dozens of well-wishers I have. But I don't think I can stand them. I know they mean well, but they will give me some kind of lecture. They will let their view of me come in the way. They will say something like "Oh, but you're such a strong girl. I can't believe you are depressed" or "You know what you should do? You should do yoga, you'll be fine" (which my mom said at some point). So I absolutely don't want to talk to a loved one. Their concern and instant panic will overpower their ability to actually be relevant to me.
Who I need is a stranger. I don't know which stranger I can trust. But I need a stranger. I also need money. I need lots and lots of money to meet a professional stranger and get better. The best thing would be if a stranger gives me lots and lots of money and just forgets about it.
Then one day, something different happens. My room is not cleaned for several days in a row so I open the door for aunty and let her do her job. Meanwhile, to avoid her questions about why I haven't been opening the door, I run to the kitchen and make coffee for both of us. I drink the coffee. Thankfully, I'm blessed in this department and I make a damn good coffee.
I don't know after how long I get a huge rush of happy hormones in my head. When all the coffee and sugar crashes, my body will crash. But this is so worth it.
Then I realize, there's a seminar I can go to this evening. It's a nice, anonymous place to hide. I don't have to listen to the voice in my head. I have the opportunity to get to hear something that might pull me out of this rut. So I go. Thank God I live next to a metro station. Hyderabad Metro saved my life.
In the seminar, people are interacting with other people. It's not as anonymous as I hoped it would be. Some people go up front to the microphone and share something. And so this lady goes up and says, I'm Doctor so-and-so, I'm a psychiatrist. I remember her from another seminar. I know of her but I don't know her. So when the seminar is over, I chase after her and I say "I need to ask you something."
These are the most comforting two minutes of my life. I rant off a list of things I'm experiencing and her eyebrows fly into her hair. She grabs my arm, gives me a phone number and says "Make an appointment".
I make that appointment. I clutch my credit card in my hand, mentally calculating how much credit limit I have left. But to my honest surprise, the consultation fee doesn't cost so much. The medication costs even lesser than I thought.
You have no idea how important it is to get a correct diagnosis. You are free, the moment you have a name for the shittiness you've resigned yourself to. 10 milligrams of an SSRI tablet, an itty-bitty yellow pill will kick the aliveness back into you.
I don't want to die anymore. I don't have a clear answer to "Why should I live?" but I really don't want to die.
Two months pass, I spend three days in a row without having a single panic attack. When my boyfriend cracks a dumb PJ, I actually laugh without forcing myself. I take calls. I respond to messages. But I'm still not talking to people I really messed up my relationship with.
Three months pass. I attempt to work again. I suck at it. I take 3 hours for things that used to take me 10 minutes. BUT I AM WORKING. My typing speed is normal, my hands aren't shaking, and I'm experiencing something really strange. I can take one thought, put it together with another thought, and make a brand new thought! It's magic! But it's also like learning to walk.
Six months pass. My doctor cuts my anti-depressant dosage in half. Now I take only 5 mg. I make my first paycheque in over a year. It's a lot of money. I pay rent on time for the first time in months. I pay off minimum dues on my credit card. I BUY MYSELF NEW UNDERWEAR! I had no idea I could live a life where my underwear didn't have holes in them.
Pandemic happens, lockdown happens, markets slow down. I'm still unfazed. In fact, I have another strange sensation that I'm feeling after ages. It's like falling in love for the very first time. And I actually feel hopeful. I feel like I'm up to something in life. I know what to do when I wake up or when someone asks me a question. I know what I can count on myself for. I know what I can count on other people for. I can tell the difference between a real upset and a mental-health-breakdown-induced upset.
And I can tell you for sure that I didn't have the strength to write this last week or last month, let alone last year when I was in the thick of this. I expect nobody who is dealing with a mental health issue to be capable of opening up and seeking help. If you are well, then notice for yourself. We're not in a time where we can afford to be superficial with each other. Be engaged in another person's life. Even the strangers around you. Not everyone is going to take a year-long U-turn from hell and have the energy to tell their story like me.
It is YOU who are not okay with people around you dying. The ones who are dying are probably prepared for it. So make it YOUR responsibility to make their life worth living. None of us are getting anything by living life for ourselves. It only makes sense when we live it for each other. So if you don't want people you know to successfully kill themselves, do yourself a favour and check in with them. Okay? Okay.