Be warned: This entry is heavy. If you’re not having a good day, I’d skip this one.
Facebook is both a strange and sad animal.
As happens when we get nostalgic, I was tagged in a Homecoming picture from high school. There are 8 of us in the picture. Seven of us have spent the past decade graduating college, getting married, having babies, or just trying to figure out what the hell it means to be a grown up. The 8th person in the picture was murdered a little under 5 years ago by the married man she was seeing.
After looking at the picture, it made me stand back and survey where I’m sitting. I put myself in situations where I easily could have been seriously injured or killed. Through some minor miracle, nothing bad happened to me. I very well could have not seen my 26th birthday. I may not have been a stripper or a heroin addict, but my life choices could have led me down a similar path. I could have been just another headline. But I’m not.
I feel like I’ve spent most of 2014 in tears. In spite of all the pain and the moments where I gladly would have taken a bullet between the eyes, I didn’t fall back on my old habits. I didn’t drink. I didn’t scratch or cut myself. I refused to let that part of myself win. My greatest weakness can also be my greatest strength. I kept reminding myself that I’d clawed my way out of hell before. I’ve suffered. I’ve been bent. I never broke.
I firmly believe a lot of depressed people don’t give themselves enough credit. Even if you can’t force yourself to sit up in bed, you’re still breathing. You haven’t given up yet. You haven’t left the pillow over your face in the hope that it will smother you. It sounds silly to give your autonomic nervous system credit, but it’s not. It’s still doing its job. You’re not dead yet. Some days, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. I don’t believe in half hearted suicide attempts. I believe that there are ill conceived suicide attempts, but never half hearted ones. Raise your hand if you’ve tried something you knew was a bad idea and lived to tell about it anyway. I thought so. Give yourself the itty bitty bit of validation that you’re still breathing. As I said, a bullet between the eyes might be a gift from God some days. Other days, when the ol’ brain chemistry is normalizing, you can look around, take in all that you have, and smile.
Whether you’re fighting for yourself or someone else right now, hang in there. Keep converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. Sooner or later, you’ll find a door that leads to somewhere better.
*cue Gloria Gaynor*
You will survive.