CW: suicide, self-harm, depression
five years ago this week was the first time i tried to end my life.
it wasn’t the only time. but that first effort, that first tumble into darkness, that first time waking up realizing that things hadn’t gone according to plan - that was five years ago.
some days it feels so recent, and i can still taste the shame and regret on my tongue. other days i can almost forget it happened, and those desperate days feel like they belonged to someone else.
i wasn’t a meticulous planner. those painful, terrifying moments happened in a time of desperation, of loneliness, of complete and utter darkness. i needed to be out of my skin, needed everything to be still, needed my body to let me go. it was the only way of escape i could see, the only possibility i had left. i couldn’t envision a future that included my survival - and yet, i survived.
in the five years since, so much about my path has changed. i’ve moved four times, started regular therapy, come out to my family as both bisexual and someone with major depressive disorder, and found the right medication. i’ve started reading tarot cards, built a queer community, done significant work on my marriage. i write daily, reflect daily, check in with myself daily. and by some combination of effort and magic and science, i haven’t had a depressive episode in almost two years.
i don’t miss my depression, not exactly, but i do have powerful, sometimes overwhelming memories of what it felt like to be lost in those shadows. it’s exhausting to be a person, especially right now, as a chronically ill queer woman in america - someone who longs for this world to be safe for everyone regardless of their race, culture, gender, sexual identity, religion, family, job, health, status, or choices. depression is miserable, terrifying, wretched - but it also gave me an escape from daily life, one that i rarely find otherwise. my idiopathic insomnia means that sleep is fleeting, and some weeks completely out of reach. my freelance schedule means i drift through my days, in full control of my time but able to easily slip through the world without a trace. and my propensity for dreaming, for quiet, for introspection, means i’m often lost in my own mind, exploring my darkness, wondering who i’ve become and may be becoming.
last spring i was awake in the middle of the night, gazing at the moon, remembering those days of unrelenting pain and sorrow. the memories of those dark decisions still haunted me, and i knew sleep would be impossible until i made some kind of effort to write down my memories, to release the ghost. and while i’m not sure i’d write it the same way now, dark to full still reminds of me of the trauma i’ve experienced, the sensation of being trapped and alone and utterly, completely hopeless.
yet somehow, in the midst of all the suffering, i still see glimpses of hope in these reflective words. i see someone who wants to be seen, who’s longing for escape, who’s trying to look forward. i see possibility.
growth isn’t always linear, and healing isn’t always permanent. sometimes we find new ways to tear those scars open, pulling ourselves backwards, creating unexpected methods of self-harm that force us to wander lost in our own darkness again. and although it’s so easy to feel alone in this kind of pain and grief, in this endless cycle of remembrance and release, i hope that sharing this small, fragile piece of my story reminds you that so many of us are struggling, and you don’t have to be isolated in your sorrow. i promise that someone loves you, even if you don’t remember it right now. i believe that you have options, even if they feel too scary to consider. and i know that healing is possible, even on days when it feels you’re being torn apart.
i’m not sure where i’ll be in five more years, what my reflections will look like. i don’t know where my story leads. but i’m grateful for the progress i’ve found, and that the journey i’m on includes dreams for the future, hopes and plans and aspirations. i’m finding potential where i once saw none, and that shift changes everything.
i haven’t always looked forward, but i’m starting to move my gaze from the moon to the path ahead.
thank you for being here, for reading, for letting me be vulnerable in this space. and if you feel trapped, please reach out to someone, ask for help, make a call. it’s possible to find hope again.