It’s 3 in the morning and my boyfriend has been asleep for a few hours. I look at his peaceful, still face with some envy. I’ve been trying to sleep for hours now; muscle relaxers and Valerian root have done next to nothing to lull me into a comfortable state of unconsciousness. Instead, what am I doing?
Researching “natural ways of curing depression”.
Since I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder at 12 years old, I have sought a way to cure it. After years of fruitless attempts, I instead did my best to control the worst of the symptoms, the ones that drove me to suicidal thoughts and eventually to attempt suicide. I went through many anti-depressants and I was grateful for each one of them at first. As many others with depression, I am an addict, and drugs made their way into my daily routine until I became convinced that the comedown blues were a result of my medications not working. I told myself anything to avoid the truth of my mental illness and its seeming permanence.
My first therapist called me the “poster child for trauma survival”, and it’s a title I’ve held onto with white knuckles. It gave some meaning to the bullshit I had been through, and gave me a sense of strength in my continued determination to wake up each day instead of ending things.
In March of 2014, my best friend and the woman I loved with every ounce of my being was murdered by three people, a friend, a heroin dealer, and a stranger. The murder was driven by the $3,500 Rian, my love, had stolen from her father in an effort to impress her new friend and take them all on a road trip to a music festival. Instead of appreciating the gift, they shot her up with heroin until she overdosed and died while they slipped the cash from her pocket.
To say I fell into a depressive dip is the biggest understatement of all time, but I do not feel words could justly describe the pit my soul fell into. I was the waking dead; I was in a state of living nightmares. My days were hell and my nights were worse. The woman I loved, the woman I wanted to be with, was dead. I felt I might as well be dead with her, but I found the sweet embrace of lifelessness in drugs and drinking with a renewed fervor.
Depression reared its head in a way that encompassed my existence like never before. I was so deep into the mental anguish that the thought of seeking help never occurred to me; I concluded that I was locked in forever. This was it. My life would just be like this now, I thought.
Then I met Ali. Rather, Ali and I had known each other for a long time, but this time around, they and I became very close in my grief. The pictures above were the first time we ever saw each other in person; for the first time in a while, I remembered what happiness was like. I thought I had found the cure to my depression. In retrospect, I can laugh softly at myself for ever thinking a person would “fix” me.
Ali and I were together for two years. We used drugs, drank, moved states, got an apartment, dropped out of college, hid from ICE when their travel visa ran up. Like Rian, and like myself, Ali had BPD; towards the end of the relationship, I desperately sought medical help for them. It seemed Ali was slipping slowly from my grasp, and from life itself. Finally, in a final attempt to save both themselves and me, we decided to put them on a plane to return to England and their family.
It was the last time I ever saw Ali alive.
In a few, short months, my fiance had hung themselves in a park. I did not find out until the funeral had past. I remember when I finally received the news. My mother drew me a bubble bath and lit candles. I slid into the hot water numbly and hugged my knees. It took a while before the tears came. The only thought that felt concrete was “Not again. Please, not again.”
Rian’s death had strengthened me a little. Looking back, I can be grateful at least for that. When news of Ali’s demise came to me, it seemed I would finally slip through the cracks and my depression would claim me. Not so.
Fast forward to now. After my fifth visit to rehab, it seems that the lesson finally kicked in and I’m finding serenity in my sobriety, though I do slip up from time to time. I got back on my anti-depressants for a while, then in a daring move, left the state of Texas where my family is to be in Colorado with my boyfriend, Aaron and took myself off my medication. I’ve only been here a few days, but much has changed in such a short time.
The first day was rough. Depression shook me down and left me sobbing in the bed I would be sleeping in. The quiet of the mountains and the cold, clean air began to comfort me where it had only vexed me at first. I found a sort of peace in the solitude and the isolation. Being away from the big city seemed a death sentence at first, but now, I am beginning to find the gift in it.
The three year anniversary of Rian’s murder is coming up in a matter of weeks. Facebook reminded me with its memories of the day two years ago that I drove to the Dallas court to see Rian’s killers get justice. Last night, I found myself unable to sleep and nearly in tears, seeking ways that I could soften the edges of my mind and not fall prey to the monster that is my chronic depression.
And then it hit me.
March 25 will not only mark three years since Rian’s death, but three years since I believed my life was over. September 29 of this year will mark the anniversary of Ali’s suicide, and it will mark another milestone in my own recovery: it will mark yet another day that could have killed me, but didn’t.
I woke up this morning in a bit of a fog, but there was something at the horizon of my mood that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Now, I can see it for what it is.
It’s the will to seek out happiness.
I might not be cured, and I may never reached that point. I do know, however, that the things that seemed that they would kill me have become dates on my calendar where I mourn, reflect, and at the end of the day, move on, knowing that I will survive the night and feel better the next morning.
I have come to tears many times writing this, but I have also smiled and laughed while I recall the times I had with my lovers who have passed on from this world. I fondly remember the me of three years ago that would look at the me of now and wonder in awe at the transformation. I won’t say that things will be perfect.
But I will say that they can get better.