Reprinted from "Suicide" issue of Visions Journal, 2005, 2(7), p. 18
There is constant conflict between my depression and my will to live. One moment I am at high risk of falling victim to suicide, and the next moment I am rationalizing my worth as a human being. This has continued for three decades. My illness has hospitalized me on several occasions. I have survived vicious self-mutilations. Spending time in an alcohol detox centre lost me my career with the federal government.
When I'm in my depression, darkness is my life. Thoughts swirl around me, and I am engulfed by despair. My battered mind and soul are confused and weakened, unable to fight off dark thoughts. The only glimmer of hope is that death will finally bring the peace I so desperately seek. I'm supposed to be able to wipe these thoughts out of my mind just by ignoring them—but this is not as easy as it sounds, when suicide feels like the only option for relief.
Detachment from life is all I know. I have no feelings of happiness or sadness. Disconnection with reality has left me in a zombie state of mind. Life passes me by without any recollection. The only things I believe to be real are my tears. Loneliness from the outside world is my sanctuary because within my own darkness, I am safe from the outside.
I need energy to fight a battle that seems impossible to win—the battle for my life. The constant fight and resistance leaves me mortally wounded. The battles make me weary. My body can only take so much abuse. Desperately I seek other methods of relief—alcohol provides temporary respite from the misery, clouds of intoxication briefly numb the pain.
Exhaustion is overwhelming and can only be relieved by resting during the day. The mind and body feel beaten. Self-esteem is destroyed due to an inability to perform the simplest of tasks. The eating and inactivity cause weight gain. The body fat around my waist pushes me further into the abyss. Failures in life compound upon each other, paving the road toward suicide. While in a depression, nothing seems to go right; failure is the only thing I am sure of.
Other people cannot understand how some of us can even think of suicide. But to me it seems to be the most logical method of escaping a life that is not life. Minds and souls are destroyed and life is really not life without them. There seems to be no difference between life and death, since we already feel as though we are dead. This is why death is not a fearful prospect. We have been there, done that. Death is not a stranger to us; that's why it calls out for us. And we are so tired. We just want some peace. Somehow, it all has to end.
If this darkness is so devastating, then why am I still alive? There is one reason I have put up with this relentless hell: I love my wife. Suicide would be like killing two people. The stress of financial hardship and the family affairs she would have to deal with on her own would become her doom. It's my feelings for her that have stopped me from killing myself. That, and I want to feel life again...
It's difficult to write about depression when you are totally recovered. Your thoughts and feelings about life are not the same as they were when you were ill. Your thought process is totally different. I have been sober for four months now and my mental health is stabilized. I have walked through the threshold to a whole new world. For the first time in 30 years, I've started to discover things that have been buried inside me. I now have goals and dreams to conquer, but most of all, I have hope. I feel my life is important enough to fight for. My fight for survival has been a very long one, and I am willing to continue the fight.
About the author
Patrick resides in Victoria, and lives with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder