How to Find the Worth in Your Struggle With Depression

Toni Collette in the Irish film Glassland
Glassland via Kaleidoscope Film Distribution

This piece is for anyone who no longer feels the struggle to stay alive is worth it.

Trigger Warning: This is in no way a light piece, as the author will be discussing her own battles with depression and thoughts of suicide.

It's been a heavy week.

The world mourned the tragic and sudden loss of rapper Mac Miller to a drug overdose, along with reflecting on the devastating anniversary of 9/11 just yesterday. To top it all off, it's National Suicide Prevention Week—a topic that's tricky to discuss and not one many want to even think about.

The reality is that suicide claims the lives of many on a daily basis, 123 to be exact. Just this past June, we lost designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain to apparent suicides.

Every time I hear about a death by suicide, I think back to the times where I've thought of ending my own life. Yet, I never speak out about it, mainly out of fear that people won't understand. Because as much as the entire population was shocked by these losses, if I were to tell even my closest friends about my suicidal thoughts, they wouldn't know what to do.

This piece isn't for them, nor is it for anyone really. This piece is my way of coming to terms with my thoughts of suicide over the years, because as vocal as I've been with my depression struggles, I could never muster up the courage to admit I've thought about killing myself more times than anyone would suspect.

via Unsplash

I remember the first time it happened. I was in middle school, a time when nothing made sense to me and no matter how well I was able to put on a cheery face for the world, I didn't feel okay. Everything was dark, though I hid it fairly well from everyone in my life. I remember crying myself to sleep a number of nights for no particular reason. It just felt right.

Then one day, I indulged in my depressive behavior and searched "least painful ways to die" in my family's joint computer. I read as much as I could before my mom came home and I had to go back to doing my homework. I wasn't going to do anything, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was something I was looking up at a very young age.

My family eventually found out about this search. However, nothing was done. No one questioned why I was researching the easiest ways to kill myself. The only reason I knew they were aware of my search history is because my brother brought it up. But other than him exclaiming how they knew this was a recent search, no one asked for the reason behind it. No one even wondered if I was okay.

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Things got to a point where they were better. I wasn't being followed around by a massive dark cloud everywhere I went. Then in high school, things got worse.

I became withdrawn and didn't find enjoyment in most things. Again, no one knew. I appeared to be fine on the outside, but on the inside, I was hurting. I thought about ending it all at least once or twice a week. I was just too chicken to go through with it.

The year I turned 20 was the worst of it.

I began to cut. It was a way for me to feel something, because I was numb every other second of the day. Every time I took the razor blade to my skin, there was a small part of me that hoped I would pierce a little too deep and that would be the end.

I ended up running away from home a few days after Christmas. I packed up my belongings in my PT Cruiser and headed out to New York from California. My car eventually broke down in Colorado (I think?) and I called my grandma. Long story short, I ended up coming back home. My dad found the situation comical and my mom didn't say anything. My grandma took me to see a therapist who put me on antidepressants. Neither of those things worked for me. Sleep did, because it was the only time I could escape the misery that was plaguing my life.

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I continued to cut up until I graduated college a few years later. I haven't taken a blade to my skin since. I take that back, I haven't penetrated my skin with a blade since then.

I was better for a long time. I felt fine—no, I felt great. I was a human again, rather than just being the shell of one. I was happy. Then, about a little over a year ago, things started to go south.

I couldn't do it anymore, live. It got to the point where I would literally envision myself driving into the ocean or crashing my car into a divider on my ways to and from work.

One night, I was lying in bed crying uncontrollably. When my roommate went to sleep, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife from the cutting block. I traced it across my skin, hoping that I would summon the courage to gouge it into my body. I didn't. I slept with it next to my bed that night, hoping things would be different, that I could just slice into my body no big deal. That wasn't the case in the morning, so I wiped my tears, put back the knife, and went to work as if nothing happened. As far as anyone was concerned, nothing did.

After that moment, I knew I wasn't going to get better unless I was proactive. I ended up seeking out a therapist, on my own terms this go around. It was through doing this I was reminded of some life advice I had received years back—it's all about finding the worth in the struggle.

My struggle, for a large part of my life, was wanting to stay alive. There were so many times I wanted to call it, but I didn't. Something, myself, stopped me from giving into my dark desires to commit suicide. When I realized that I, in my own subconscious way, was preventing myself from letting go, it was then I realized my worth—myself.

The therapy, the meds, the creative outlets, those weren't what was keeping me here, it was me. Sure, they helped, but I was the one thing keeping myself alive all these years.

If you're struggling with thoughts of suicide or coping with your depression, my advice is simple—rely on yourself. Know that you are still here, because some part of you is desperately fighting to help you see the light again. Some part of you is working in overdrive to make you better. Some part of you wants you alive.

I spent a lot of my life hoping others would save me, praying they would see my struggles and be the ones to lift me up out of my depths. In reality, I was always the one to do that. I find myself clinging to that heroic part of me and I hope you do that for yourself, too.

Robb Leahy on Unsplash

If you need someone to talk to or are just looking for resources, I've used To Write Love on Her Arms and Hope for the Day. These organizations were there for me when I needed someone to turn to, so now I'm passing them onto you. Don't hesitate to reach out.