“And I was gonna write a poem about how fire is the only thing that can make a person jump out of a window, […] but depression, too, is a kind of fire… and I know nothing of either.” –Taylor Mali, “Depression Too Is a Type of Fire”
Yesterday I wanted to be dead. Not to kill myself, not to die, just… to cease existing. And yes, I could recognize that having been awake for over 24 hours straight — having lost count of exactly how many — likely helped color my view of the world, but I could also recognize that it only added intensity to what is generally sitting just under everything else, just like alcohol lowers my inhibitions but doesn’t make me do anything I wouldn’t have done while sober. A few drinks might make me do whatever it is more easily, more quickly, with less hesitation; being sleep-deprived and hungry makes me hit those lows more profoundly, more easily too.
Before falling asleep yesterday evening, I posted some depressed and depressing rant like I frequently do, I sent my therapist a text message letting her know I was “wishing hard I wasn’t alive” and that I was about to sleep, and then I got a message on Facebook from Escrow. The first message just said “hey!” And shit, I was overwhelmed, barely able to cope, and I was starting to tell her thanks for checking in but that I couldn’t really process chatting right then… but as I was doing so, she mentioned that she was checking to see that I was safe because she’d heard about a huge fire in my general overall area and she was worried about me.
Oh, right. I’d seen the “safety check” thing from Facebook when I’d picked up my phone, and I had dismissed the notification because it was more shit that I couldn’t deal with when I was already struggling to deal with everything else… but the check-in from a dear friend drove home something that I have known for a long time: an immediate, obvious threat to life gets responses. The slow quotidian slide, the mundane yet no less significant forces that are weighing me down and killing me… those are much, much harder to get help in dealing with. It’s the reason why, in the past, I might have made an obvious post about being ready to kill myself. Or why I might have called a crisis hospital and said that I believed I was a danger to myself or others. Or why I might have chosen any number of, essentially, ruses to make it seem as if there were an immediate, obvious threat to my life. Because that’s what people respond to! But, of course, the responses I’d get in those situations aren’t really all that helpful. And there’s the additional aspect of being “the girl who cried wolf,” because if I ever were at a point where I had specific plans to kill myself and enough motivation to do so, then I’d want to know that I hadn’t left behind me a trail of people too burned by my prior attention-grabbing to intervene when I really needed it.
So I don’t do that kind of thing anymore. Haven’t for years. But when things are caving in under the heaviness of life with depression, and I’m feeling alone and hurting and would love to have someone I know and trust be there for me — not because I’m about to die, but because I’m struggling in other, equally difficult ways… it seems a lot like, well,
“When I expressed my desire to kill myself, I was overwhelmed with offers from people who wanted to spend time with me. Two weeks later, though, I couldn’t get any of them to pick up the phone. It made recovery really difficult because it communicated that people only really cared when I was in crisis.” –Kitty Stryker, “So Someone You Love Is Suicidal”
The title of this post comes from the lyrics of an Erasure song, “Rock Me Gently.” The official music video is a shorter cut than the album version, which basically takes away the otherworldly sadness of synthesizers amid the shrieks of Diamanda Galás which make it such a perfect match to my mood on many occasions. The chorus, however, is simple, direct, and to the point:
“I dream you’re with me
You hold me sweetly
And rock me gently to sleep
In your arms.”
I wish I knew what that felt like again. It’s been a very long time indeed.