Limbo

Everyone carries on about living with depression and ‘managing’ suicidal impulses but hardly anybody ever talks about suicide! And when they do they do years after the fact! What about right after!? Why doesn’t anybody ever talk about what it’s like to be in the immediate aftermath of a suicide attempt? Well I’m going to talk about suicide. And I’m going to talk about depersonalization, the devil, and the mystery of what’s happened to all my underwear!

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So I want to write specifically about the immediate aftermath of my suicide attempts but I’ll admit I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here, given that during these weeks I was receiving ECT twice a week for a few months. ECT has helped me immensely, and I will write more directly on that subject in another post. However—it’s reputation to make fuzzy or even completely blot out one’s memory surrounding that timeframe is not at all unfounded. 

There are vast gaps in my memory that often reveal themselves to me only when I am confronted with the blank spaces that now live where my recollections once were. And these gaps have muddled a lot of the technical, logistical aspects of my experiences in the last 8-9 months. I remember both of my attempts as though they happened this morning. But the date of those attempts I do not at all remember, nor how much time passed before I was admitted to the hospital both times. I know which hospital I was brought to, but could not point out to you which wing I stayed in, or for how long. Nor the names and positions of the hospital staff orbiting me during my stay. There was a stay at a different hospital, that I believe was early last winter 2018—I remember the hospital and I remember the graphic novel that my friend brought to me when she came to visit. But I do not remember what I did to get myself admitted. 

Still, despite all this, I do maintain that ECT was ultimately a significant help to me in starting to climb out of all this mess. However, please keep in mind that when I am discussing this very specific period in my life, there is only so much detail that I am capable of providing, and it may at some point require updating. 

In periods of absolute crisis my typical reaction is to depersonalize and embrace the stance of a chilly, ambivalent, far away observer. If I didn’t I completely collapse in despair and suffocating anxiety.  

During one of my admissions—I remember that it was midnight, and someone had just pulled me off the gurney and stood me up in the middle of the room. I was in one of those awful hospital gowns by this point, I remember looking down at my feet and my vision wavering so bizarrely that my feet turned into four, turned into six. The noise all around me was terrible, offensively muddy and I was annoyed about that for maybe a mili-second. The figures that stood around me were mushy and undefined—but I managed to make out my dad for a little bit. I felt nothing though, about being there. The gravity of my situation felt like a feather, soft and weightless. 

I don’t remember having any issues during my hospitalization. During my third stint there I even managed to make a few friends. Mostly I was just bored. I generally avoided dealing with staff because overall I found them annoying. I remember sneering and rolling my eyes as a staff member upended and tore through all my belongings, curtly informing me of how dangerous my leggings were. At some point I sat down to work on a puzzle for a few minutes before then realizing that the task was lightyears beyond my current mental power. I remember the photo of the puzzle—which was of a tipped over wicker basket overflowing with a kittens and balls of yarn—I liked that picture very much. I sat absently through the hours upon hours of lectures about things like thought distortions, meditation, safety tool kits, and the like. I remember very little of the presentations themselves, but do remember my general feeling towards them, which was that I found them very sterile and out of touch. I would plop my body down in a chair towards the back and check out, my eyes glossed over and ambivalent. It was a very ‘the lights were on but nobody’s home’ situation. 

I dutifully called my family twice a day when we were allotted phone time. Usually I summed up my day and made the effort to sound like I had some energy in me. For their sake. I experienced no difficulty with my family visits, though I could perceive their nervousness. I could sense—I was dimly aware of their discomfort, awkwardness and fear. But I was still so far away and still so much like that feather, floating softly in the warm glow of those hospital lights. 

You’re selfish!! You’re so goddamn selfish!! You’re so selfish to do this to the people who care about you and the people who would miss you!!!”  

This voice came from somewhere, I don’t know where, deep in my mind. 

“Yes. I am.” I mumbled back, in a foggy kind of way, “I can truly see now, my wickedness, when I look at myself,” 

I also can’t remember what those first days were like when I came back home. I was still very much in a deep haze. I really couldn’t register what was going on with everyone in my immediate orbit, and certainly not the reaction and concern of the individuals who I didn’t live with— they were as far away as the moon.  

I’ve been going back and forth all week, pulling at my hair, trying to come up with some ideas, or something that I could write—to offer up to individuals in the immediate aftermath of their suicide attempt that could be in any way of use to them. 

I could start spilling over with the familiar platitudes. 

“You’ll get through this,” 

“You’re not alone,” 

But when I was in the hospital and people said that to me? I just looked at them though half-open crescent eyes and smirked in a condescending, mocking way. When they turned their back to me I clicked my tongue at them and laughed.

I keep asking myself, I keep trying to think—as I have only myself and my own journey to refer directly to—what could I have possibly said to myself in those first few days that would have actually gotten through to me?

I can’t sugarcoat things. It just wouldn’t be fair to what I’m trying to do, which demands honesty even when its brutal and frightening. There isn’t a single thing that I could have said to myself in those initial days/weeks. Not a single damn thing and not by a single damn person would have made any difference. I can only conclude that when we’re in that kind of depersonalized limbo state—when we’re really that, that far away—absolutely we are alone. We are alone and no silly motivational platitudes can change that. 

We are alone regardless of whether we are surrounded by people who care about us or not. And only we can swim our way back out the clouds. Only we can decide—whether we are going to try again at life or whether we’re going to drift lazily back towards death. No one else could ever do that for us. And there’s no way I can sit here and say how long that process will take. Whether its days, weeks, months, whether we come back at all…. it just.. It takes the time that it takes, is all I can say. 

And I know how terrifying that must sound to those of you reading who have not yourselves attempted suicide but someone you love has—to be told that there really isn’t anything concrete you can do in the moment when your person is in that state. 

Again I can only speak for myself and my case and it would be absurd of me to assert that this constitutes a general rule. I can’t speak for your person and whether or not my situation applies. So hover close. Make every move you can to be there if/when they do emerge. Have their favorite coffee drinks and desserts scattered around and try to lure them out, the way you would try to lure out a nervous cat that has squished itself under the safety of the couch with treats and playthings. The cold brew was what worked for me, when one day I realized finally that it was there. 

But I did start, I remember, going out in the mornings to grab the newspaper off the driveway for my dad. And I set almost immediately to re-connect with my collaborator at the time and put the wheels back in motion for our comic book project. I committed to working daily on a creative project, and that helped me. 

I started with therapy and continued with the ECT and tried to stay on top of my follow-up appointments with my psychiatrist and other doctors, but often they slipped my mind. I arbitrarily decided at some point that I had lost enough memory and had recovered enough of my personality that I no longer required ECT. My dad and I agreed to a system wherein I would keep my cocktail of meds in a small, locked chest and he would hold onto the key, and twice a week I would fill out my regiment in one of those weekly pill cases. But I didn’t request anything else be kept out of the house, like booze or knives. I found that just silly. You can’t suicide proof a house when it would be so easy for me to just go out and grab those things. 

I did think about death often, but it wasn’t a red flag or anything as it was clear to me, even in that state, that I had pulled myself up far enough that I was at least no longer actively suicidal. I still think about death often, but much less often, as before. The thoughts themselves are beyond my control—they come flying in like a predatory bird whenever I am least expecting it. 

Some, for example, hit if I move over to another lane while driving— and the thought cracks me over the head with a rattling, full-body sensation: “What if that car behind you just plowed right into you and flattened you into a bloody pancake into the steering wheel?”  That’s always nice. Once, in the middle of a conversation with a cousin of mine, the thought seized me with terrible excitement, “I wonder if grandpa still has that gun in his closet?!” Sometimes it isn’t a thought, but rather, an image—on a clear day I’ll see the Chicago skyline, and if I look long enough, I’ll see a stumpy little figure, diving off the John Hancock—and I’ll know who she is. I’ll go stand outside and see my hanging body swinging from a tree, swaying limply in the breeze, birds chirping all around without a care in the world. 

You get the idea. But I realized at some point that these intrusive thoughts didn’t have to determine the tone for the rest of my day or pummel my mood into the ground unless I allowed them to, irregardless of their persistence or repetition. It occurred to me finally that, though I can never exert complete control over my mind and prevent myself from having those thoughts—they don’t have to be proof of anything— the thoughts themselves don’t make me broken, wrong, sick, as I had for so long believed without question in the past. It was when I yielded to them, when I sank to my knees and submitted to their total uncontested influence… that was when they broke me.

This was the first tangible step I took towards actual recovery. 

I have those thoughts and I realize they originate somewhere within me. They are representative only of themselves and do not insinuate that I’m still craving death. On the contrary, I stand before them and can see now that fate is presenting me with an opportunity to display my newfound strength and affirm my nervous, budding commitment to life. 

Now I didn’t quite realize immediately that that was what I was doing. Like I said earlier, this is all a mushy, wobbly process.  And I admit that at first, I tended towards indulging in the fantasies that those thoughts arose.. I allowed myself to pull at the string and follow the scenarios towards their inevitable conclusion. It gave me some sort of morbid satisfaction. I was beyond the desire to actually act on them— if anything, it was too much work— but still, daydreaming about death can be weirdly relaxing. 

And in the meantime I wasn’t making a move towards much of anything. I can’t tell you if it took one week or three, but in time I was pretty settled. I had nestled into a relatively comfortable routine. Yes, I had my routine and I drifted through its motions, day after day. And when I had bad depression days and bad anxiety days, I cooperated with them and wrapped myself in blankets and darkened my room and put on my favorite movie, which I would watch over and over again. I was giving myself time, I told myself. I was doing self care. I was working with myself within the confines of my limitations and no further. 

It’s been a slow realization, but a realization nonetheless, that if I wanted to get anywhere, I needed tension. I needed resistance. I needed to push past something. But what? I largely still felt so brain dead that I winced at the thought of any kind of rigorous self-examination. But I did know —I needed to have some really hard, gutting conversations with myself. 

I was breathing, I was blinking, I was moving around and talking occasionally and turning on the dishwasher. I wasn’t leaning towards death, true, but I was far from what I would consider being properly alive. I was still in my ghostly out-of-body limbo. I recognized dimly where I was because I’ve been here before—I spent two years in this state in high school. I was wildly out of touch with my emotions, I was distant in my relationships. I largely didn’t feel any kind of way about anything. And I avoided making decisions like the plague. 

I preferred to let fate unfold on its own terms, as I was petrified to consider action that would require indulging in even a glimmer of hope that my life might one day amount to something worth hanging in there for. I have this belief that I continue to wrestle with, as it was instilled in me a long time ago—I came to believe when I was a young teen that any attempt I made to steer my own destiny in one way or another would inevitably blow up in my face. I believe/d that I am a fundamentally unlucky person. I ultimately believe that, in spite of the dreams and ambitions I’ve built up in my heart— at the end of the day I am condemned to toil away for nothing, that nothing that I ever do will ever make an impression on anyone, anywhere in the world. I ultimately believe that I will never experience anything like love because my lot in life when it comes to other people is to be eternally dismissed, ignored, forgotten, avoided.. forever. And that’s that.

Now how the fuck am I supposed to actually get better knowing I believe all this garbage? How am I supposed to navigate my world knowing that every micro-decision I make is informed by these inherent beliefs? And how—now that I know that—am I supposed to get rid of them?

And on top of all that now I’ve also got this choice looming over me. This decision I gotta make. I guess it’s been there all along but now it’s really ever-present because of what all I just did. A suicide attempt is many things, but at it’s core its a bold, defiant statement about Life and its non-worthwhileness broadcast across the sky for all to see. In the wake of having made such a drastic statement—the decision of whether or not I am going to actively commit to being alive pursues me like a relentless shadow. 

When we do talk about mental illness and suicide, we talk all about the medical side of things, the uncontrollable reality of our diagnoses and unavoidable violence of our symptoms and the influence of traumas from our past upon them— we don’t talk much about the existential crisis underneath that’s really what does it in for a lot of us— it’s on a philosophical level that we make the final judgement call of YES or NO on whether or not life is ultimately worth all this damn trouble. 

Caught amidst a whirlwind of tragedy and hellish circumstances and dysfunctional brain chemistry often creates an irresistible pull towards nihilism. Nihilism is very attractive because it frees us from the responsibility of having to acknowledge that every choice we make matters. Because nihilism asserts that nothing in being or existence has any meaning at all, and as a result, there is no tangible reason to endure all the suffering that life constitutes. Therefore we are ‘free’ in a sense, to be totally careless and irresponsible. But, more crucially, I believe, we are liberated from the daunting concern of purpose that presses into us, demanding that we live our lives responsibly, demanding that we allow ourselves to hope for something.

I insist that any discussion of my life and mental illnesses include an emphasis on my ongoing existential crisis—on how that crisis informs the way that I view my suffering and how it operates in cahoots with my bad brain chemistry— for this reason: I do not ever want to present myself, nor my suicides, as being the inevitable result of a set of biological, psychological, and sociological factors. That would imply that anybody in my position would have done just as I did. That is not true. I know that is not true. 

Here is a little meditation on the philosophy and psychology of the late writer, Viktor E. Frankl, as presented in his well-known work, Man’s Search for Meaning. Victor E. Frankl was an acclaimed psychotherapist who developed his own school in the field which he called Logotherapy—whose central aim is to “confront with and reorient a patient toward the meaning of his life,” (92). Frankl’s unique approach was informed not only by his vast repertoire with many patients, but also his harrowing experience and observations made while a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps.   

A powerful introduction to this man and what he stands for we can see in this anecdotes from his book, in which he is addressing a room full of prisoners at San Quentin State Prison:

“You are a human being like me, and as such you were free to commit a crime, to become guilty. Now, however, you are responsible for overcoming guilt by rising above it, by growing beyond yourselves, by changing for the better,” (140)

Here Frankl is addressing the ire felt by these prisoners for not being given the opportunity to properly explain themselves in light of their crimes and deviant behavior—but who were instead given a set list of excuses that they could choose from. 

“Totally explaining one’s crime would be tantamount to explaining away his or her guilt and to seeing him or her not as a free and responsible human being but a machine to be repaired. Even criminals themselves abhor this treatment and prefer to be held responsible for their deeds,” (140)

First I must establish that I am writing this on the assumption that those of us here who’ve committed suicide did so as a response to suffering and/or a crisis of meaninglessness. Frankl’s lifelong work in ‘reorienting’ individuals towards meaning—or even just a search for meaning—operates within this context of enabling individuals who are suffering to connect to a source of inner strength and hope previously unknown to them.

There are very real reasons and experiences beyond our control that influence our decisions to end our lives. And many of our reasons and experiences are similar to the reasons and experiences of many others. Like variations on a theme. The road towards suicide has been paved and paved over again by others among us and others who came before us who’ve cited the same reasons as us to explain their actions. However. We must recognize that others among us who have endured very similar situations have reacted differently than us. This speaks to the reality that we are human– we are self-conscious, we are free. We are more than our broken machinery. And as such, we are responsible for ourselves, and the person we become, and the paths we choose are singular, unique, and exclusive to ourselves. Excluding a case where psychosis was involved during the event, we are wholly, exclusively responsible for our behavior and our choices. We must own our suicide attempts and not throw the blame on anyone or anything else. When we do this we are throwing away our agency, denying our autonomy, insisting that there is no such thing as self-control or self-determination and furthermore–that someone else be held responsible for what we’ve done.

I ought to clarify that while I was floating in limbo—I can’t say that I was suffering. Or I suppose, it may be more accurate to say that I had checked out of my suffering. The appeal of this kind of in-between state is that I felt absolved of feeling much of anything. Guilt. Shame. Responsibility. Pain. All were like little specs of dust floating in the air, that I could lazily swat away. Nor was I thinking all that much, I simply hummed along on autopilot. 

Something else I have no recollection of is how or when I stumbled across Man’s Search for Meaning, I bought it at some point, with my own money—my transaction history has confirmed it so. It concerns me slightly to think that I was driving around in this state. Thankfully it appears that I wasn’t some blacked-out missile of hapless destruction leaving massive vehicle pile-ups and burning buildings crumbling in my wake. 

Moving on. When I said earlier that I had realized that I needed tension to move forward, it was originally unclear to me what that could or should look like. There are many, many success stories out there, and that motivating tension can come to us in the form of pretty much anything—supportive relatives who wont let up on us, an unrelenting personal trainer, Tony Robbins youtube videos, a self-improvement manual that speaks to you above the rest. We are all as different as different can be. Therefore there is no one answer. We all must find and embrace tension on our own, in our own way.

Limbo really is like an altered state of consciousness—often a severely unfocused one in which it can be a trial of Olympian proportions to even think in complete sentences. And it’s not something we can just snap out of once we’ve decided we’ve had enough of it and are now ready to go kick ass. It’s very much like—we know we need to move forward and everyone is encouraging us to just move forward—and we’re sitting there in the front seat of the go-cart but some cheeky scientist is playing tricks on us where everywhere we look, we see the parts of the go-cart floating lazily overhead. The steering wheel is over our shoulder to the right, the gas pedal is floating around somewhere over there, the ignition… is.. somewhere.. I just saw it—what the heck where’d it go? Everything, from tangible objects to the reality of things like music and conversations—is all perceived as though it were part of a fractured dream. 

There are some fun theories out there, regarding sight, perception, and meaning—many of those call into question the way we think we are seeing our environments. These questions felt deeply relevant to me in limbo. I started to wonder, as I stumbled around my house blearily, if I was actually seeing anything in a way that actually connected me to my environment— there are some weird-ass old dudes out there who have dared to suggest that what we actually at first perceive is not the objective nature of something, but what its meaning or use is to us. The most clear-cut example of this I can come up with is imagine opening up the passengers side door of your partners car and seeing someone elses underwear on the ground. What do you first see? The underwear–its texture, color, fabric, ect. Or are you overwhelmed with what this scene could mean about you, your partner, your relationship?

We’ve all had that experience where there’s some card or object on our desk that for weeks on end—when we look at our desks we don’t actually see?—not until the day comes where we suddenly realize we need that thing and have to go search search for it. And then sit back and laugh once we realize that it was under our noses the whole time for weeks. Though we technically ‘saw’ it every time we approached our desk, our eyes were taking in the imagery of our environment and communicating with our brains–we did not perceive it because in our minds it meant nothing to us in that moment and wasn’t worth registering. 

While in limbo, I realized that I was ‘seeing’ almost everything in my insular, little world in this manner. And it became a rather interesting, strangely life-affirming exercise to just walk around my house and look at things—like, really look at them. It started to make everything around me actually start to feel real.

I stepped into the doorway of my bedroom one day to do this, to take inventory of my clothes. And then I finally actually figured out that about 95% of my clothes are gone. They’re just GONE. It’s this huge mystery. I have no idea what happened.

So almost all I have in the tops department are a bunch of t-shirts from my old job working at a grocery store. My one sweater is from there too, I still have my name-tag pinned over my left boob, for comedic effect. I have one pair of workout leggings. And I’ve been rotating between three sweatpants that my sister claims are hers but… I’m pretty sure she’s lying— either way I’m not giving them back so. 

All my panties are also gone!! All of them! And how is it that I have just ONE bra left—the ugly one that I only resort to wearing on laundry days? Underwear gnomes? Maybe?? I don’t know y’all. Your guess is as good as mine. 

So I’ve been free-birding it, in case you’re wondering. I mean— I’m not about to walk around wearing a BRA with NO UNDERWEAR like some goddamn noob. Who among you would wear a bra with no underwear?? Seriously.

I don’t mind it, actually. In fact, I kinda like it. My boobs are small enough where there’s not really an issue of needing support, and I’m all about top-freedom for women anyway so why would I care when my nips are poking out and saying hello to the world. 

Moving on—if you’re reading this because you’re looking for some actual advice on getting out of a depersonalized state and not to just follow my ramblings— try standing in a familiar room and just looking at things. This helped me because reading was beyond my capability for a long while after my attempts—and doing this didn’t require me to decipher text or follow a story. I just… starred at my chapstick for 15 seconds… it was far easier to discipline my focus in this way than by jumping into the demanding task of reading. I would think about how I used that chapstick—how I preferred this chapstick to the other floating around somewhere because that one’s texture was slimy compared to this one—and then I’d just go back to looking at the object again. I tried to keep my eyes trained on objects that I instinctively wanted to gloss over. Yeah, it’s kinda boring. I kind of compare it to an active meditation.

It’s a process. I can’t reiterate it enough.

Alright—earlier I mentioned the list of some of my negative beliefs about myself and the universe before flying off on another tangent. Well, I didn’t forget about it. And though I’m probably not going to submit myself to the task of making this essay more coherently organized, I am keeping track. 

How we get ourselves to stop believing in these kinds of destructive narratives about ourselves is as crucial, I believe, as our actual medical treatment, because they carry a lot of weight in determining how we even work with ourselves in the context of our treatment–how we end up cooperating or not with our efforts to get better, and so on. 

How do you honestly expect to get better if you keep saying things to yourself like, ‘It feels like my life is just some kind of cruel joke,’ ‘It just seems like nothing I do ever matters,’ ‘Sometimes I think that I’m just not meant to be happy,’ ‘I’m always just this shadow in the background who no one ever notices or pays any attention to,’ ‘Nothing ever works out for me,’ ‘I will never change’??

I’ve filled up an entire notebook full of these small moments, these quick, micro-decisions wherein I completely sabotaged myself because of my assumptions and succeeded then in only burying myself further down and further reinforcing my awful beliefs about myself.

To illustrate, how many times have I thought about raising my voice—only to swallow it back down again and press myself back into the shadow of the wall, because I know, I already know that people don’t like me and will reject anything I say. 

And what if one time I just decide, ‘fuck it’ and stand up and speak up—only to get shot down? Well now I know, right? I have my proof now—that came from outside of me!!—I can say now with certainty that I am not meant to be one of the people. That there is no place for me in this world. WHAT THE FUCK! I was BRAVE and this is what I have to show for it?? 

We’re at a disadvantage when it comes to actively pursuing a meaningful life and carving out a place for ourselves in the world because we’re trying to operate in spite of the backdrop of an unrelenting chorus of these dark, self-defeating narratives and deep seated beliefs and other people just really don’t seem to get that. 

They don’t get how it’s so much easier for the dude without mental illness to take a hit, fall over, stand up, and try again when he doesn’t have the deafening cries of demonic maxims of a major mental illness hissing, whispering, shrieking at him constantly what a piece of shit he is. 

It’s not enough to bring ourselves face-to-face with these beliefs and firmly dismiss them as lies—because we already know that they’re lies— and yet, in spite of that, we still live and operate in our lives as though they were true—when our therapists ask us about them we squirm uncomfortably and open with, “I know it sounds stupid but…”

Unfortunately, the only way forward that I know of is committing to the brutal task of pulling them out by their roots, one by one, little by little. And knowing that for many of these—the roots climb down all the way to the depths of our formative years. To uncover many of these beliefs we have to be willing to probe ourselves with difficult questions, to go digging for the roots responsible for spewing so much trouble—as often we may not even be aware of the full extent of our beliefs. We have to commit to the challenge of being unwaveringly present in our day-to-day lives, we have to fight to be focused and mindful regarding what we say and how we react to the presence of others. We have to wait, and observe, and watch carefully for the moment when one of those beliefs rears its ugly head, begins to materialize from the walls of our mind—and moves to sway us in how we act. 

And then we we have to rebel!!! We have to act—in direct defiance of that belief—irregardless of the consequence! We have the thankless work ahead of us of collecting enough evidence and life experiences that stands in direct opposition of our shitty beliefs… until we finally, finally have enough life experience and evidence to weaken their hold on us and reclaim our agency from them. 

And when we recognize those moments and we fail to act on them? I suggest we take a step back and take a moment to recognize that—not to be assholes to ourselves—but to clarify what just happened: ‘I wanted to go over and introduce myself to that guy—but at the last moment I held myself back because I was sure I would just make a fool of myself,’ Recognize that in failing to meet the challenge—your inaction was still a decision that you made and that decision is now reinforcing your belief that you’re a tragic, awkward, pitiful mess in public situations. And that decision—and all the decisions like that that you’ve made— are part of the reason why your life is such an embarrassing catastrophe right now. Recognize that and burn it as fuel, as anger, as motivation, as determination —to not allow that belief to hold you back again. 

Because catastrophes can be turned around! I’ve seen it happen! You’ve seen it happen! We’ve all seen it happen! I cannot yet use myself as an example because I’m still a broke, unemployed, twitchy nerd with no underwear but!! You never know!!! 

I still honestly don’t want to fucking do this. I wrote about it before in my first piece and now I’m going to whine about it here too. At the moment, I’m maybe only a week and a half into trying to figure out how to build a blog and get some writing under my belt, and goddammit it this is way harder than I thought. And why am I doing this again? I’m taking precious time away from my illustrating. I’m digging around and trying to like find facts and do research. Ugh.

I swear to god all I wanna do is watch Detective Pikachu and eat cocoa puffs. I’m having another moment where like I’m lowkey convinced that my toils and my troubles will once again amount to another pointless, stupid venture and will only piss people off if they see it at all. So why? Why? Why? Why?

Well. I am doing it for me too. I get that now. I’ve heard it said that people figure out their thoughts by talking— and that’s why therapy and counseling is so important. I think people can also figure out their thoughts by writing too. I can’t get myself to take journaling seriously soooo. I guess the respected, serious venture of blogging has tricked me into putting my big girl pants on. Hmm. Interesting. I’m figuring out my thoughts and crystalizing my ideas. I’m not taking the words I’m spitting out at face value, but turning them over, considering them, picking them apart and reorganizing them and doing everything I can to ensure that they best represent what I mean. 

I’ll let y’all know I’m scarred too. Frankly I’m scarred shitless. It scares me enough to shock me to attention. It scares me enough that limbo can’t get a good, solid grip on me that much anymore. See—I think I get it now—this effort of mine is an attempt to challenge my inner convictions—that my life is some sad joke, that I will never be good at anything, that I will never have a single good idea, that I will never make an impression on anyone. I shuffle cautiously forward — for I know now what is at stake. I know this could blow up spectacularly in my face. I know—even more devastatingly— that it could be met with only chirping crickets and blank indifference. 

I know, exactly, what will happen to me if I don’t step towards tension. I know why my suicide attempt failed— I wouldn’t make that mistake again. 

(Spoiler alerts coming up) So the other night I saw Spiderman: Far from Home and thought it was pretty fricken cool. And I’m really into the whole idea of Mysterio. The whole way Mysterio operates and all the shit that he pulls is definitely a very clever modern statement in manufacturing madness and chaos to dupe an unsuspecting humanity into seeing him as the hero they didn’t know they needed. Neat. I connected to his shenanigans on a deeper level too. When he dumps his insanity-inducing fun house of illusion and deception on poor Spiderman, who nearly breaks trying desperately to navigate and escape to no avail— that’s a good metaphor for what limbo is like and what trying to break out of limbo can feel like. Severed from reality. Lost in spinning, disorienting darkness. Grasping at things that just keep dissolving into mist. Voices and noises swirling overhead but somehow are also blasting from every direction. Not knowing if you’re about to step onto concrete or over a ledge if you dare edge forward. Becoming afraid to trust that what is standing before you is actually real, and actually means what it says…

Its the sort of experience that Im convinced would tweak anybody out. Limbo, or ‘depersonalization’ if you want to get clinical with it—though it sort of insulates you in a way from the blows of being, does immeasurable harm in the long run. I’ve come to view it as its own kind of hell, one that which I would never wish upon anyone, not even my enemies. It’s so destructive because it merely numbs us to our personal tragedies and injuries, but does nothing to alleviate their damage. If anything, our wounds are simply given full reign to fester and quietly eat us alive, while we sit, stupidly anesthetized, drooling out of the corner of our mouths, struggling to follow the unfolding drama of 90 day fiancé. 

There are varying degrees of this of course. I’m talking about a very extreme circumstance. But sometimes it isn’t this bad. And many times, of course, a version of this state can be a side-effect of our medications. It can express itself in a general feeling of numbness. Many of my depressed friends have at times complained about this—how awful it is to not be able to cry at a relatives funeral—or even to mourn ourselves. I experience this to a small degree still—I have cried once in the past 8 months. However, I try to recognize that this is a symptom of my treatment—and it beats the alternative. And I’ve come a long way— I can focus now and express my personality. So, I have made peace with the fact that sometimes I don’t emote that much—though I may not feel sadness in the proper way when something sad happens—I do know it in my mind. I know that I feel sadness for whatever has just occurred, and I know that I feel bad about not feeling sad. That allows me a degree of reassurance that I’m not some cold-hearted bitch. 

So how did I climb out? Well it was certainly the combination of a multitude of factors—my meds, my therapist, my ECT, and all that. And it was just.. deciding to close my eyes and run blindly forth through the fun house. Running until I crashed into a rail, a wall, a clown, then flung my arms around wildly until I found empty space before me and charged blindly forth again. I couldn’t initially rely on my mind to be my partner in crime—at times it was with me, other times it gods-know-where. Other times it was yelling incoherently Stop! Turn around! Let’s take a nap! How come I can’t remember anything? Holy shit do you remember when you were trying to start a fashion blog for a hot minute? Wow! You really let yourself go, shit! Hey! There are ice cream sandwiches in the freezer!! Nice!! Miley Cyrus’s cover of ‘Head Like a Hole’ actually isn’t too bad! Tch my head hurts. —All at the same goddamn time. 

So—run, run, run. Try to just ignore the nonsense internal commentary. It gets a little easier, as you make your way to the clouds edges. You can start to speak a little more deliberately and move like you’re actually made of solid matter. Try not to think about time too much, if you can. The passage of time would often freak me the fuck out. If you see that someone is smiling at you, and doesn’t look like a fucking weirdo–try to smile back. If a dog runs up to you wagging its tail, try and scratch it under the chin. Try not to think too hard about things at first. But when you can, consider asking yourself some of the bigger questions that hover overhead. Try not to be afraid to wrestle with those questions, just because you might find yourself here again one day. As they can be like a flashlight, when you’re still fumbling around in the dark.  

Unfortunately. I feel that this is all I can really offer. I don’t see much useful information out there on how one can go about re-anchoring themselves in their body once they’re drifted off into a depersonalized state. Even just a little digging is enough to show how sparse a clinical understanding of this phenomena. Researchers have testified to the fact that there is a lot going wackadoo in our brains when we’re experiencing limbo—things are getting weird in many different systems, affecting our cognition, memory, perception, emotions and more. It can be caused by drug use, or as a response to trauma or extreme stress—but those things in themselves don’t guarantee that a person will float off into space. As a result, we have a long, long way to go before an understanding of what specifically triggers depersonalization. 

When it comes to my cognition in limbo—it sucks because when I’m not in limbo, I’m usually able to identify little things that I can do that tend to alleviate this sensation. 

The problem is, that while I’m in limbo—I can never get my wits about me enough to implement these strategies. That’s what’s so shitty about it. I’ve come to understand, for instance—how deliberate physical touch can often help to ground me back in my body. Like just looking down and rubbing my forearms for a little while. I’ll never remember that if this happens to me again. Following the guidance of my PHP experiences to put together a ‘safety tool kit’ for myself that I can reach to in times of duress, falls unfortunately moot when I fall into that duress. Because despite all the time I spent carefully assembling it—thoughtfully giving myself coping strategies for sudden waves of anxiety, depersonalization, whatever—including silly putty and stress balls and the like as an assist for when I go freak-out mode. I felt so productive and accomplished when I finished putting the thing together back in the day. Like for once I was really being pro-active with my mental health and actually preparing myself for rough weather. I’ll be ready when it hits!! 

When the time finally came around that I would have benefitted from the contents of my safety tool kit—I had completely forgotten that it existed. 

I had things like post-it notes on my desk and worksheets from the hospital that were like a personal reference sheet for my various symptoms and their severity. Their function was to be like, an objective checklist that could inform me whether I had wandered into the danger zone or not. They were all sitting around on my desk—did it ever occur to me to read them when I was in limbo? Nope. Reading tends to be exceptionally difficult over here. Far more trouble than it’s worth. A lot of times it can feel like you’ve taken your sleeping medication as prescribed, but then went ahead and downed half a bottle of NyQuil on top of that just for the fuck of it. Your head feels like a goddamn sand bag. 

Our brains are good at ignoring things—a good example I saw was while reading an article about learning languages by Babble—points out the way we are able to hold a conversation in a loud, busy cafe. Our brains dismiss all the background noise and chatter because it dismisses it as irrelevant. When in limbo, I ‘see’ just fine, for all intents and purposes, but as far as my perception goes—absolutely everything is out of focus. Mentally, what’s happening to me is my brain is checking out by dismissing almost all external stimuli as irrelevant. Visually, I brush over everything, my friends, my books, my notebooks, my music collection, my to-do lists, the contents of my fridge—and none of it stands out or can make a lasting impression. 

Many people have described experiences of suddenly seeing themselves in the mirror and not comprehending who they’re looking at. Personally, I have never experienced this terrible shock.. but I suspect that that may be because my mind is just reacting to my reflection the same way it reacts to everything else— as extraneous, irrelevant information. Visual background static. 

I’m carrying on a lot about this. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how it is that I’ve spent so much time in this state. Well, I think I’m beginning to understand why and how a person can be trapped here for an extended period of time. It’s not that we are necessarily lazy or passive or just don’t want to do the necessary work to get better.. limbo is.. well.  It’s a hell all it’s own. Is all I can really say.

Before moving on, I would like to emphasize once again that I am not a doctor or anything like that. I’m just another person trying to make it work like everyone else. I’m spitballing based on my own struggles and research—

All the suggestions I’ve seen as far as how to crack out of limbo are usually pretty predictable—medication, CBT, art therapy, family therapy, hypnosis (that struck me as a little strange—anyone out there have any experience with this one I’d love to hear about it). Listen to podcasts and don’t drink caffeine and get enough sleep and don’t isolate blah blah blah. That really all you guys got? All right then. 

The other day I created a post on reddit about this subject, where I asked others who dealt with limbo what strategies and tips they had developed in order to help them deal with this state. Many responded that they had no strategy—they simply had to wait it out. Others, however, suggested meditation and mindfulness practices. One commenter suggested specifically the app, “Unwinding Anxiety,” saying that it was an enormous help. I went ahead and installed it—but I have not tried it because it asked me for money. But if y’all are not a broke, do-nothing bitch like me than maybe try giving it a shot? Lemme know if it helps!  

People love that hypothetical question of whether or not crazy people are aware or not that they’re crazy. It’s one of those things thats fun to think about, I suppose. Well, despite being a mental fog bank—when I’m in limbo I’m 100% aware of the fact that I’m in limbo. I’m aware of how unhealthy it is and I can observe pretty clearly what a derailing influence it is. Yet in this state I am at the height of absolute ambivalence about my life—sometimes even more so than when I am very anxious and depressed. Which adds another dimension to how difficult it can be to escape its clutches. More than in almost any other state—here I often dwell on pointlessness. In my faded fuzziness—sometimes I try to latch onto potential actions I could take to alleviate some of my persisting symptoms.. there are many things, if I just try like really try maybe they can help. Go jogging to some music. Meditate for 15 minutes. Make a healthy meal. Have an engaging conversation with someone — maybe this could help. Probably it could help. 

But here I often look down at where I am, and when I consider the effort I would have to muster up just to decide what to do?—I squinch my nose up at even just the thought of what formidable effort that would be… then I groan and sink down further into my chair. For what if I did succeed? I might wonder. What if I somehow thrust myself out of the fog and back into my life? What then? There would only be more decisions to make. Gross. And would I be happy to have arrived? If I look to the evidence presented by my past—even if I did experience some joy or satisfaction in having punctured out of this place—it would be short-lived. It would be fleeting, it would be brief. That is simply the way it has always been.

I have seen many non-depressed people scratch their heads while in the presence of a depressed person who is wavering in the face of productive action. The thing that I have observed in many well-meaning but not mentally ill people is that they can fail to understand the lived reality of chronically depressed people—and how that can permanently morph the perspective from which we consider and process the realities of life and Being itself.

A non-depressed person fundamentally understands that life is a rich tapestry of experience—comprising of everything ranging from the purest bliss to the most despairing hopelessness. It is self-evident that throughout the course of our lives, we will experience the astounding myriad of all that it offers. And it sounds just so obvious to say that it isn’t even worth mentioning—that if a person is experiencing happiness in the moment— that of course it isn’t  going to last. Nothing lasts! Even if everything goes precisely the way we hoped it would in that moment! Of course we will at some point suffer again. Everything is fleeting in some degree—it’s simply the way things are. Furthermore, a non-depressed person is going to have an easier time fostering a sense of appreciation for the reality of suffering in life. They have an easier time connecting to the reality that suffering, despite its pain, offers us many gifts, life lessons, and inner strength—that suffering honorably strengthens our character and inner lives, it shows us who we are, and it gives us a vantage point from which we can develop a profoundly deep appreciation and gratitude for all that is beautiful and enjoyable in life once we have clawed our way back to it. They have an easier time transcending the reality of suffering by connecting to a sense of meaning and purpose that a makes said suffering worth enduring. 

Chronically depressed people, however, also often understand this to be true, in a cerebral sense. However, when struggling to motivate ourselves to fight our illness and pursue meaning, wellness, and happiness—are too often thwarted severely by acknowledging the fleetingness of happiness, should they even achieve it. It can feel very deflating to someone who is struggling—to act in pursuit of something that, in its nature, will not last. Like being told in school that if you bust your ass to get top marks and receive the honor of being valedictorian of the class, you will receive that reward you earned of recognition—but in 6 months it will expire and will mean absolutely nothing to any potential employers or anyone you draw its attention to. That might make one question what would be the ultimate worth of subjecting themselves to such strain and demanding pressure would be—just for something they can only include on their resume for half a year afterward—should they even manage to achieve it. The same is often true when a depressed person is encouraged to fight their illness and pursue their health. 

A lot of us depressed people are aware that if we really, really tried, if we really, really wanted it—we could get ourselves to a better place than where we are presently. However, in the back of our minds there is always the lingering awareness of the wheel. The wheel turns. We may go above and beyond to climb to the top of it, we may be fully aware that we have that capacity somewhere within us if only we would just go digging for it. We may know that if we make it to the top of the wheel we may be simply gob-smacked by what we find and blown away by the beauty of life that makes us suddenly grateful that we did not give up on ourselves. 

But we know that the wheel turns. We know that one day, the bell jar will fall again. 

And that is a knowing that can arouse just the deepest hopelessness man can know. That knowing that regardless of what we do—the likelihood, nay, even the promise of life is that we will one day just end up back where we are.. well. It can be discouraging to say the least. It makes even the most determined among us to question whether the worthwhileness that fighting is worth the damn trouble. 

My suggestion for people who may be reading this who are not themselves mentally-ill, but who know and love someone who is and who is currently deeply despairing— is to drop the common assurances that we are honestly all tired of hearing— “You will make it through this,” “One day things will be better,” “Hang in there because this won’t last forever,” “Everything ends,” Take it from me, as I’ve been depressed for the majority of my life—I’m very well aware that everything ends. Most depressed and suicidal people are aware that everything ends. We are many things, but we are not stupid. Despite the constant chaos and emotionally destabilizing effects wrought by mental illness— depression does not impair our ability to think critically and look around and see things as they are. Which I know just blowssome peoples minds. But trust me. You’re going to have a much easier time talking to a depressed person and getting them not to absolutely hate you if you don’t talk to us like we’re sad, feeble little creatures who’ve been bent into a distorted understanding of reality. 

I would dare suggest that most depressed people are very well aware of the truth of these statements. Most of us are aware that if we just hang in there things will eventually get better—or at the very least, they will become slightly less terrible. What guts us is the assurance that things will not stay better. Which can make the overall consensus of our lives and their worthwhileness feel condemned, purposeless and without worth. I can’t count the amount of times that I have seen depressives cite the fleetingness of any happiness they might find, the fickle nature of relationships, the unlasting satisfaction they might experience in light of any accomplishment—as their reasoning for giving up. When it comes to other people and relationships—often the depressive says that they do not wish to endure the emotional roller coaster of riding the wheel, when in all likelihood, there is the haunting likelihood that they will probably just get hurt again. We often wonder why others so aggressively encourage us to go ‘get out there’ and run the risk of another dashing what little hope and trust in others that we might have.

 The pain of such effort, we often reason, just isn’t worth it—knowing that ambitions fail, people leave, things fall apart… knowing that to experience the goodness in any of this we would have to start the climb from so, so far down. Often people look at that climb and look at what they’d be risking and opt to just sit back down in the clammy darkness and crane their necks upwards to watch the happenings and goings of life on the surface from their faraway vantage point. Until that itself becomes its own source of piercing sorrow.

Something else to keep in mind when engaging with severely depressed people in a way they might actually benefit from is to never strike comparisons between their circumstances and those of someone else. People are unfailingly different from one another in absolutely every way that people can be different. One person battling a range of difficult, traumatic experiences may find the bravery, strength, and stubbornness to persist—the same circumstances afflicting another person may result in them flinging themselves off a bridge. People are different and people have different internal thresholds of how much pain and suffering they can endure.

If you encounter a suicidal person who chooses to open up to you and lists out their reasons for their attempt and you think to yourself that you totally would have been able to handle all that—know that that says absolutely nothing about the character of the suicidal person. It is simply what it is. If we are to imagine that there exists a hierarchy of peoples differing resilience to pain and chaos and competence in weathering horrible events—and of course such a hierarchy exists—recognizing objectively that you may occupy a higher tier of interior strength and resilience over someone else does not imply a statute of moral superiority over them. And frankly—it merely shows what a detestable piece of shit you are that you would give yourself that kind of ego-trip in judging a suicidal person so harshly. 

Judging that person and comparing them to anyone else accomplishes absolutely nothing. In fragile, suicidal states—directing a suicidal persons attention to an inspiring story of another person triumphing over suicide and mental illness must be done with extreme care. In certain states of our life, drawing strength from the remarkable stories of others is a powerful motivating tool… but this can usually only be done once that person has openly committed themselves to their recovery and has already begun to take small, tentative steps towards that aim. In extremely vulnerable states—such as the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt— this can backfire in the most explosive way—asking a suicidal person to compare themselves to another often only results in that person hating themselves even more. You see, they will look at that story and what they will get out of it is just further proof of what a horrible human being they are because they don’t see that they could ever be like that other person. You must try to understand where they are—most of us who are suicidal have been slow-cooking ourselves in a stew of self-loathing for so long that whatever trendy self-help advice you’ve picked up, whatever inspiring story you’ve come across in the new york times is going to fall on deaf ears. If you want to be even more shitty—don’t be surprised when you come out with ‘think of the starving kids in Africa,’ approach and are met with nothing but contempt. Trying to make someone grateful because their life isn’t as shitty as you perceive someone else’s to be is just a garbage tactic to begin with. All it does is show to the world what an ignorant asshole you are. And it will most certainly not restore someone’s will to live. 

It may not be ‘noble’ or ‘brave’ or ‘inspiring’ of a depressed person to sigh and sit back down instead of throwing themselves violently against the thick walls of their interior prisons in a ferocious determination to overcome and triumph—but it is not cowardly, either. Nor is it lazy or selfish. Typically—and most of us will freely tell you if you only ask—it was a decision that was made carefully and over a considerable length of time, after much thought. Dangerously depressed people who’ve come to these kinds of determinations about their lives and the effort they would have to exert to improve it, have in my experience been made after significant time has been spent testing the scales and weighing their pros and cons. We often have and can give you very real reasons for why we’re so miserable. Simply because they may have embraced the less admirable mental and spiritual stance in the eyes of those who would like to see them get better—does not mean they are delusional, out of touch with reality or lazy entitled brats— and any attempt to get through to them ought to be made in acknowledgement and respect of that. 

What must be instilled in a hopelessly depressed or suicidal person is not the assurance that things will one day improve—but that that the effort of clawing oneself out of the abyss of depression is worth it and is meaningful IN SPITE OF the fact that we will one day end up back in hell again. 

Think of the Persephone myth. The young goddess was abducted against her will and dragged to the underworld by Hades, who was smitten by her. Mayhem erupted amongst the lineup of greek deities when Persephones mother, Demeter, unleashed hell on earth in an effort to force their hand and demand Hades release her daughter back to earths surface where she belonged. An agreement was eventually reached among the gods, as Demeter promised that until her safe return not a seed, not a flower, not a blade of grass would grow on the earths surface—and Zeus demanded Persephone be released back to her mother. 

However, Persephone made the fateful mistake of accepting the gift of a pomegranate from Hades. She proceeded to eat 6 of its seeds—an act which, in the cosmic arrangement of things by the greek deities—condemns her to the ward of Hades. Forever. 

And so, it was determined that Persephone respect cosmic law and so remain in the underworld for 6 months out of the year—1 month per seed. But the rest of the year she would be free. 

I think of this myth often. It was the myth said to explain the change of the seasons. But more importantly, it explains the nature in life in general. Life. Death. Rebirth. The wheel. All that. It assures us that wherever we may be we will one day return to again. That nothing ever remains the same. 

Think if Persephone just threw her arms up in despair and said, “Fuck it all. I am condemned to this place and condemned for eternity to return to it for half the year for the rest of my days. Why should I even bother leaving it at all? What do I have to gain by going back up? Why bother bothering?” 

Is it worth it at all, to return to the surface of the world once she’s fulfilled her contract— to return to the place where things are alive, where the sun beams down and the wildflowers grow tall? To the fulfilling happiness of her relationships and to the gratifying expression of all her passions? When in the back of her mind she knows, she always knows, she can never not know—that all of this is fleeting. That when her time is up, the ground will yet again split open into a yawning black chasm, that Hades’ chariot will come roaring forth from within its depths, to claim her and drag her down once again to his eerie, shadowy kingdom of the Undead. 

Is it worth it to leave? Knowing the inevitability that once again you will return. Once again non-depressives are more likely to immediately blurt the affirmative, and be baffled by those of us who don’t. For many chronically depressive people—our states of depression and perpetual sadness, numbness, and fatigue is something of a default state. It is our ‘normal’ that we have acclimated to and have come to expect as the normal that things settle into. Whereas for others.. their emotional ‘norms’ don’t seem to consistently drift towards residing in extremes. If we should consider a very simple spectrum: happy vs sad—which I acknowledge is a disservice to the complexity of the ranges of emotional experience—bear with me here—just think to a normal day where nothing notable or out of the ordinary happened that flung you to one end or the other—just think to overall how you felt. How you felt when you woke up, how you felt stumbling around sleepily through your morning routine, how you felt while going to work or getting the kids ready for school or setting to your work on some top secret FBI science project or whatever it is that you do.. did you wake up in a good mood? On just navigating the well-weathered daily rituals and routines of your life, were you overall content? Nervous but driven? Neutral/so-so? Bored and distracted? When you woke up in the morning, even if you weren’t perceptibly in a good mood were you at least neutral or overall unbothered? 

Do you know how many people wake up sad?

I don’t think many people have taken the time to consider that many of us don’t wake up in a good mood—in fact.. the thought of waking up and just naturally being in a good mood is actually freaking unfathomable to many people who battle mental illness. 

Yes—it is worth it, I say to you who live this experience. As long as I can remember I’ve often laid in bed for up to two hours because I woke up already feeling defeated. Although this is very new for me, I have found that it is possible to shift where that ‘neutral’ ticker rests for us. It is possible to push it from waking up and feeling immediate sorrow to a place where our mind is actually neutral. 

These days I am doing considerably better. But I am far, it appears, from being in a state free of suicidal ideation. I confess that I am somewhat of a romantic when it comes to pondering death. Perhaps this is all thanks to all the subliminal influences of years of my youth being unabashedly 100% into goth stuff. Death itself, I don’t really fear. Dying, however, can be quite unpleasant. I have long had something of a morbid aesthetic as I have long held to be true that experiences shine most brightly when positioned against the backdrop of what opposes it. Life itself, and Being along with it, are a dazzling revelation of ecstatic, mystical proportions when I keep one foot in the shadows, and one of my eyes trained on the sleepy, heavy quietude of Death. When I hold in my gut the visceral remembrance of so many years spent being both dead and alive. Of being a ghost girl. Made more of empty space and misty air than actual meat. Maybe I did die. I find myself pondering this a lot these days whenever my thoughts drift to what I remember of my attempts. It feels like I did, though feelings themselves do not constitute biological fact. I know all that. But I remember the bizarre, rattly sensation of my severed spirit, or my mind, or whatever was left of me, being dragged and jolted around like an unhappy birthday balloon by a body that seemed to move around on its own accord. Maybe for a moment I sat next to Persephone on her underworld throne. In time, the myths all assert, Persephone eventually grew to not only accept but embraced her role of Queen of the Underworld, over time she even grew to love her husband. 

There are people who hold back from killing themselves exclusively because they genuinely dread that they will literally be sent to hell. These individuals may be in the most dire straights of us all. I do not believe that I would be condemned to hell if I killed myself. The idea that a merciful, sympathetic god would condemn a person to hellfire for hitting the eject seat on a life that had became too unbearable for them is absolutely outrageous to me. If one day I do do the unthinkable and I wake up in hell — I will happily befriend the Devil and commit to an afterlife of mayhem and hooliganism because that would just be such bullshit.

Maybe I did die and was somehow revived. Given that second chance so many dream of that I certainly didn’t deserve but have found myself here anyway. Maybe I did die. I sit on the floor in the hallway and there is a mirror down there. What looks back at me is something monstrous, irreverent, and dangerous. She looks like me and she doesn’t look like me. Grey, blotchy skin. A tangled mop of thick, wild, black hair. Her eyes glow from the depth of a pool of shadow on her angular, bony face. They’re a misty, shifting chameleon of grey, green, hazel. Just like mine. The lightbulbs above her flicker as she stretches out, her bones crack! like poppers as she stretches. I wonder what all this means—she follows me everywhere. When the lightbulb flashes once more she vanishes, like a whiff of smoke. But I meet her again only moments later. She clambers after me in jerky, disjointed movements and snarls angrily when I ignore her and throws all my shit around when I’m trying to sleep. She loves attention. She can’t get enough of it. She just wants to be heard. This creature is undaunted by the awful absurdity of life. She is certainly not about to apologize for existing, rather she is shameless in how she bends and distorts the Nature of Things for her own amusement. Why ever would she fear something like a person? What out there exists that could send this thing into retreat? What could be done to her that could ever take from her?

It is not our fault that we got slapped with depression and anxiety. And though there are medical solutions in the forms of medication, therapy, ECT, ketamine, ect— it may ultimately be beyond our means to guarantee that we will one day be free of them. We have suffered deeply and in all likelihood, will continue to do so. That being said— I implore you to not be afraid to try and find meaning. And I beg you to not be afraid to try and be happy. I know how the wheel works and I know that it will turn again. The bell jar will fall again. I am reminding myself, over and over and over again—that happiness and meaning are worth chasing with every goddamn inch of strength I have within me—even if I am able to taste its sweetness for only a moment, before I plummet again. It is still worth it. Because I will live in spite of these illnesses. I will live if it is the last goddamn thing I do. 

x Rae

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