I had (and still have) a great post with old pictures ready for today but read a tweet about Bill Zeller’s suicide, who I did not know or know of until this morning. The link includes his suicide note, parts of which are familiar to me because I have felt the same way. The pictures can wait until tomorrow.
I feel lucky that I have been able to hold off my own darkness. Every time I have thought about suicide, I’ve scared myself into getting help or I’ve talked myself out of it one way or another. I think Zeller was a much more private person than I am, and, I hate to say it, but more broken by what happened to him than I am by my own shitastic experiences – at least I am able to talk about what happened, even if parts of it I can talk about only with a few people.
In his note, Zeller talks about being worried about gossip and lies being spread about him. My theory on dealing with gossip is to tell the truth and hope that people believe me. Everyone talks about everyone else behind their back: it’s not a bad thing, it’s human nature. I would not be surprised if the bombshell I dropped the other day was being talked about, but I told the truth and I feel protected, insulated by that somehow. I guess I my “fuck it” attitude applies in more areas of my life than I thought.
After my Dad died, my own darkness got bigger again. With a family history of depression, which I now recognize comes from both the Harlows and the Kinnes, and a personal history with it, I fought it off as best I could. First, when I stayed behind after our family vacation in FL, I started smoking like a fiend to get the little kick of nicotine that would make me feel better, even if it was just for a few seconds. By August I was smoking 2 or 3 cigarettes in a row (outside, of course) just so I could face the next few minutes when I wasn’t smoking. Smoking is a really, really slow way to commit suicide, which I had realized in high school is really what I was doing. I tried Chantix, which really messed me up in other ways and then was overwhelmed when we buried my Dad in early September and gave up on quitting.
I had joined Ravelry right as my Dad was getting sick and started using the site. I found a local knitting group, Loudoun Needleworkers, joined, and made myself start going to meet-ups even though part of me really didn’t want to be around people. I felt the way Zeller descibes in his suicide note: broken, contaminated. But The Knitters, as I refer to them, turned out to be funny, irreverant, ironic, as dirty-minded as I can be, and much to my delight, most of them swear like sailers if given half a chance. I clicked with them and though we usually don’t have intense talks, it’s not group therapy by any means, they have helped me hold on and fend off the darkness.
One of The Knitters, Azar, introduced me to To Write Love On Her Arms via the spontaneous To Write Love On Her Arms Day on Facebook, wherein people write the word love on their arm and use a picture of it as their profile picture in support of those struggling with depression, addiction, and dealing with suicide. I participated (and actually just realize I missed it/it may not have happened in 2010) and started to follow TWLOHA on Facebook and Twitter. Some of TWLOHA posts have helped me heal and many have given me hope that I can go on, broken or not, that there is more to look forward to.
Finally, last summer I was having more bad days than good. I was so miserable that it seemed pointless to go on, the hole I was in was so deep I wasn’t going to be able to climb of it. I made a commitment to Ky to get help. It took me a month, but I started therapy again, went on medication again, and finally feel like the person I could have and should have been all these years. Therapy always seems like the last option, it’s always the one I put off, because it means talking about everything to a complete stranger. Every time I’ve gone into therapy, I’ve had a new therapist. At least now I know what will help me: talk/narrative therapies combined with cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.
I still have bad days, I still sometimes feel broken and lost, but I feel better than I have been for a long, long time.
There is hope and help. No hole is too deep. Everyone’s story is different: telling yours can help keep it from swallowing you. Hang on: you might feel like help is easier to ask for 5 minutes from now or tomorrow or the next day.