I love my life – my husband, my children, our home, my career and my family. Every single day I work to remember this and to not take it for granted. But, every single day I fight the fear and inner voice that tells me they would be better off without me, that their lives would be easier without dealing with the burden of me.
It happens in the middle of the night. It happens driving to work. It happens sitting in meetings. It happens at the dinner table. It happens as I am holding my babies. My mind slips away from reality and dives head first into every negative thought and feeling I have towards myself – I am not worthy of my husband or his love, my children need a mother that is stronger/better/nicer than me, I don’t do enough for them, I am not enough for them, my husband has to work too hard to love me, maybe none of them actually love me, am I good enough for anyone to love, I don’t even deserve any of their love or anyone else’s love for that matter. The voice nags and nags, it pulls me deeper into the void and further away from the world around me. It’s suffocating. As I feel it dragging me deeper and deeper, I push away the people that could pull me to safety- if they knew I had these thoughts, would they think less of me? Would they validate the voice? Would they see me differently? I can’t let the weakness show. I can’t let them see this side of me because it will make all of my fears a reality. They’ll know I am a fraud. They’ll know I don’t deserve them.
So, I withdraw. I pull away from people. I stop doing the things that make me happy. I shut down. Sometimes I go online and start deleting posts and stories I’ve shared. I start erasing my life and disengaging. After all, I’m not worth their time, love or affection anyway.
I don’t know where these thoughts come from. What I do know is that when they start talking, they flood my entire body. The vast emptiness and desperation attacks me and touches every last inch of me. It’s all consuming. It’s almost like walking outside in 100 degree weather with 90% humidity. I can’t breathe. I can barely walk. I am drudging through quick sand and desperately searching for solid ground, but can’t find the energy to push forward.
I don’t routinely fantasize about death or seriously consider actions towards it, but there are days and weeks where I can understand and relate to the thought process that leads someone to that decision. I’ve also thought about the ways it could be done, which would be the least messy or painful. My thoughts have teetered in that dark tunnel and my inner monologue has wrestled with the words as I’ve slid further and further into the rabbit hole of depression. I’ve felt the darkness and the emptiness strangling me. I don’t know what it is that pulls me back or keeps me from diving into the bleakness. Something keeps saving me from myself.
I’d love to tell you that it’s my love for my children and family. Or that it’s some super power within me. More likely it is another form of fear. The fear of the unknown or the fear of nothingness. Perhaps my fear of not knowing is stronger than my fear of not being enough or worthy of the life I love. Maybe it’s because there is occasionally a break in the darkness and I can scream at the voice to shut up. I can’t silence it, but I can drown it out with loud music and distractions. She’s always there though. She always reminds me that maybe, just maybe, their lives would be easier if I weren’t there to bother them.
I’ve never talked to anyone about these feelings, and, until now, I’ve never written them down or put them out there. It’s hard being vulnerable and open. And as much as I share about my life on social media, I never share the full story. But, the more we talk about depression and suicide, the more we remove the stigma around mental health.
If, like me, you’ve felt yourself slipping into the dark tunnel of depression and have had thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255. Talk to someone. There is no shame in feeling this way and there is no shame is seeking help. You are not alone. I am not alone.