How Depression and Suicide Gave Me a New Lease on Life

If discussions of depression and suicide trigger you, I suggest you don't read this post. If you find flippant quips about depression and suicide offensive, I also suggest you don't read this post.

Hey, internet people! Instead of looking at cute cat video #364736463 or addressing the gnawing insecurity about how you think you've fucked up your life and are stuck doing something you hate, why not read something inspirational about how a really, really bad thing actually turned out to be a secret gift?

Yeah, why not?

Well, for a start, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not very good at doing this inspirational thing at the best of times.

This is just about the best of all possible times and I'm still being a grumpy little dipshit, which tells you something.

I'm not going to tell you the story of six years of depression and five attempts at killing myself (I should really stop, I'm rubbish at this suicide lark), or of being in and out of therapy and navigating the mental health care maze. This is mainly because I can't be bothered right now.

What I am going to tell you is that any desire to live and thrive is something I have to work very hard even to fake during a depressive episode, and usually after failed suicide attempts I get very angry and upset. I certainly don't think "wahey, I got this close to death and suddenly I really really want to live and skip amongst the birds". Hell, depression isn't exactly good for making you look on the bright side.

So what have I gotten out of six years of depression? Making my friends and family very worried and upset, fucking up my brain chemistry, trying to unfuck it with therapy and not doing very well, a big discoloured scar on my left arm, five suicide attempts, and lost academic opportunities.

Okay, so in those six years I've met some really wonderful people and learned a lot - but I could have met those wonderful people and learned those things without having a chronic mental illness.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that life is chaotic and the universe doesn't care about morals. Bad things happen to saints and sinners and everyone in between, and in many cases they are not sweetened by life lessons. From a moralistic standpoint this is probably not okay, but it happens and the point is to deal with it.

I suppose another thing I'm trying to say is that it's okay to be sad and angry about bad things happening to you or to people you love. When we have a culture of inspirational talks about how, say, brain cancer is a gift, while at the same time having a culture that exhorts us to be constantly positive rather than be a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy who'll end up being a bad influence on other people's lives, it stigmatises the expression of emotions that are considered negative, like sadness, anger and fear.

I'm not a psychologist, but I'm fairly sure that making people afraid to express their true emotions for fear they'll be considered bad or inferior and socially isolated is a really fucking bad thing when it comes to dealing with any kind of trauma.

So when bad things happen, it's okay to say "this is bullshit" or "fuck this" or "I want to kill everything right now". It's okay to cry and be scared and feel like crap. It's okay to say "this is wrong and I don't ever want anyone to go through this". Most traumas are not inspirational. If you're lucky enough to see a bright side from yours, great. But if yours, like mine, is utterly pointless and has no redeeming features, it's okay to shout that from the proverbial rooftops. Tell anti-inspirational stories. Make antiplatitudes. Remind people that everything is meaningless and futile, that the universe doesn't give a shit about your morality, and that somehow people still wake up and try to enjoy themselves, and that this transcends any human morality so you just have to find a way of dealing with it - whatever that might be.