Summer, 2002 , I wrote this in my journal:
Loneliness can be chilling at times. You feel invisible and you feel your only escape is for someone to come rescue you.
Throughout the darkest depressions, the feeling of loneliness seemed to overwhelm me. Much of the intensity of that emotion was tangled up in my distorted view of myself and the world around me. Allow me to try and see those years through the eyes of an emotionally healthy, caring friend.
Though I am not able to feel what she is feeling, I can see that she is easily brought to tears. It’s not always clear to me why she is sad. Her life is not perfect, but it is most certainly not as hopeless as she seems to think it is. Yet no matter how many times I tell her she’s beautiful, no matter how hard I try and convince her of her worth to me, she won’t accept it.
As I watch her slowly destroy herself, I become exhausted with constantly having to rescue her. I completely isolate myself from her sometimes because I feel it is the only way to maintain my own sanity. What more can I do? It’s like every measure I take to bring her back to reality is futile! If I expend any more energy just to have her kill herself anyway, how will I be able to live with myself? I can’t help her anymore, but I hope she finds someone who can help her.
That’s how I imagine my closest friends felt while watching me disappear deeper and deeper into a profound, suicidal depression. I’ve never been the healthy friend trying to reach out to someone caught in the destructive web of depression. But I can speak with intimate detail the horror of falling into depression.
How can a person express herself when there are no words for her own suffering? Being caught-up in the darkness does not easily translate into words. Some people believe that creativity and beauty emerge in the midst of emotional turmoil. But that is not entirely true. The beauty is more likely to grow from the memory of the pain. But major depression or mania will overwhelm the people who suffer from it to the point where sometimes we can’t even make it out of bed.
My own darkness felt like this:
There was pain, both physical and emotional, like a ship’s anchor attached to my heart, pulling it to the floor, stifling the ability of my chest to rise up and down with my breath. Nothing seemed to lift the ever increasing weight I carried inside. And how could I make it clear to anyone what I was going through and the urgency with which I needed it to go away?
All hope for my future became obscured by the emotional darkness. I remember laying alone in bed as tears trickled silently down my cheeks. Miserable and terribly lonely, I’d call everyone I knew – sometimes over and over again. But, seemingly without fail, my calls would drop straight into the voicemail. Maybe before the age of caller ID and cell phones I’d have been able to accept “no answer” as no one being home. But since cell phones travel with their owners, I was sucked into the delusion that I was being abandoned by my friends.
The thought of a never-ending loneliness suffocated me. Not only did I imagine a future without a husband, but a hopelessly empty future without friends. I mean, family was obligated to take care of me – but it wasn’t enough. When felt the sting of my friends steadily walking out of my life, they each took a part of me with them. Darkness becomes most unbearable without the love of a friend.
Without the steadfast love and encouragement of a friend, my will to live diminished and the thought of dying began to comfort me. Adopting a tragic and morose view of existence, I began to envision my suicide as a sort of noble and romantic sacrifice. After all, I truly believed other perceived me as: useless, burdensome, and causing others as much if not more pain as I was experiencing. I never chose to be born, but death was a choice I still had. Then the suicide attempts began to increase as did the hospitalizations.
Suicidal people are largely misunderstood and therefore not taken seriously. The things I’ve heard over the years include:
“You’re just doing this for attention.”
Oh really? If that’s all I’m destroying myself for then this is a pretty sick way to do it. Perhaps, if you can’t help me, you could send me someone who can help?
“You’re not just doing this to yourself, you’re doing this to all of us.”
True. This is a selfish and irrational way to deal with life. But you don’t know the extent to which I feel this pain. Sure, your life is likely more difficult than mine, but I’m still not you. We could experience the same series of tragedies come out with completely different wounds. Don’t compare me to you or anyone. It’s not fair.
“Suicide is the cowardly way out.”
Maybe it is, but the pain is unlike anything I’ve ever dealt with and, despite my desire to have someone hold me until it goes away, the more serious and painful this becomes for you, the less you want to spend time with me.
Most of us (hopefully) will not succeed in committing suicide. But when we live through an unsuccessful attempt, our friends and families will too often write-off the failure to die as a selfish and childish act of manipulation. Unfortunately, that only makes a suicidal person more determined to be “successful” the next time.
To read more about depression, self-injury, suicide, and hope, I recommend this site: