What I Learned About Life When I Wanted To Die

What I Learned About Life When I Wanted To Die

Some stories and thoughts from darker times.

What I learned about life when I wanted to die is that I don’t.

I do not want to die in the most unapologetic way. I cannot ring out my sadness like an old mop, but I can be at peace in the foggy water.

In the moments between vibrant life and absolute death, I feel like a ghost. The weight of grief sits on my chest like a rock weighing me underwater. Sometimes grief makes it hard to breathe. The hardest moments are when your grief has no attachment. When there is no sad story to be caught up in, it feels like you have no need to be sad. Even still, it sits on top of your lungs, cutting off your breath.

Sometimes it’s the moments of brief passing from waterlogged lungs to open vocal chords that you realize that clearing your throat is as holy as a ship docked in harbor after a long, long storm. Even with broken boards it still returns home.

A broken person is still a person. My body may be composed of chipped bones and untold stories but it is a body just the same.

I want to live in this body. I want to live.

~

My grandmother is a lemonade connoisseur. In endless July months she freezes lemonade in ice cube trays and wraps them in paper towels. My sister and I lick them like popsicles.

I think being sad is a lot like being frozen.

I've lived with depression most of my life, but the diagnosis was perhaps the turning point. Putting a name on what haunts me has helped me to face it with less fear.

When I was a child I had hair long enough to touch the crevices of my hips. It was thick and curly, almost impossible to get detangled. My mother would brush it and put it in braids. How beautiful it is to have your mother brush your hair. Healing is a lot of the same feeling. Sometimes you cannot brush out the knots alone.

~

People don't like to talk about mental health. For some reason, mental illness is an unspoken story sitting on everyone's tongue. Medication bottles in bathroom cabinets often reveal the truth that many are hiding. I do not understand why sickness is a cause for shame. If your brain is ill, you don't live with it like a broken knee. Shattered bones are not as painful as a shattered mind.

~

I love black coffee. Deluding caffeine with sugar or milk lessens it's affect. When I was first prescribed medication to aid my depression, I felt black coffee was injected in the hollow of my forearm. I felt a marathon in my brain where there had once been a funeral procession. Electric joy pulsing through my nervous system. I'm not sure if this was how I was always supposed to feel.

~

I am a poet. Poetic release has always been cheaper than therapy. I feel, I write. I ache, I write. I ache, I ache, I ache.

My grandmother was a librarian and my mother is a school teacher. Literature is written into my bones. Several years ago I learned that my father, a business man and musician, was a writer as well. Sometimes he writes poems that are so profound that they echo the sounds of the ocean. He shares them with me, but does not let anyone else read them.

Sometimes the lines in between are prayers, asking me to stop scratching skin with nails and build houses instead. I think it is beautiful to share something with someone.

We humans are never given a survivor's manual on how to get through the dark times. I think we are meant to write it ourselves. I've spent many days chained to twin beds of sadness, I've forgotten to fall asleep. I have not forgotten to write.

~

I was once in a dysfunctional relationship that I did not realize was dysfunctional until it was long over with. Her body was so hollow that I tried to fill it with mine, but in turn, turned hollow myself.

Princess Aurora pricked her finger on a spindle and fell into a deep sleep. I pricked my finger on my lover and I could not wake up.

~

My little sister is a dancer. She is liquid poetry. Artists come to paint her but she spins too fast for paper. Paint her with watercolors and stick around to watch her dry. This is not the time to die. I have so many boats to bring home.

When I was five, the doctor told my mother I had leukemia. My grandfather, distraught, prayed to God to heal me. He promised he would go to church every day until he died. The next day, the doctor told my mother there was a mistake. I did not have leukemia. I am nineteen years old. My grandfather still goes to church.

When I was younger, I tried to find a million ways to empty my bones. I learned that sometimes the heavy feeling is better than the lightness. Sometimes the heavy feeling weighs you down and commands you to stay. Stay, stay, stay.

~

I am sitting in my mother's car. The road ruptures beneath us, breaking stilled silence like cold milk in July. Headlights appear behind us. A motorcycle drives by, the speed of an ambulance in a hurricane.

My mother looks at me and whispers "That's how God makes angels".

I don't think it works that way.

I think the angels are the ones who wanted to die but didn’t. The ones who wanted to live but couldn’t. Who thought of suicide but wouldn’t.

I think living is a bravery that demands the most.

~

What I learned about life when I wanted to die, was that I don't.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Contrary To Popular Belief, I Procrastinate Because I Care, Not Because I'm Lazy

Procrastination and laziness often get lumped together as being one and the same, but for lots of chronic procrastinators this could not be further from the truth.

I procrastinate because I care.

It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. It’s also true that I am a lazy person from time to time — lots of times, actually — but when it comes to my horrible procrastinating habit, laziness is not what’s behind it.

And this is true for a lot of people. Yet, for some reason, there’s this belief out there that people procrastinate because they’re lazy or they just don’t care about whatever it is they need to do. But more often than not, people care a great deal about the things they’re avoiding.

There are a lot of underlying emotions that feed the nasty beast that is procrastination. Anxiety, fear, depression, and yes, sometimes a lack of enthusiasm. But those first three are often the biggest culprits behind your 1 a.m. attempts to throw that project together that you swore you’d do two weeks ago. Almost everyone has been there. Desperately cramming to finish the job. Asking themselves over and over, why didn’t I at least try to start this yesterday? That horrible combination of frustration and panic.

Frustration and panic are emotions that are often linked to something that we care about, otherwise, we wouldn’t feel them. So, I think that it is fair to say that if you’re feeling this during your last-minute attempt to do something, it’s because you care.

OK, so people care about the things they don’t do. But if they care about it, why don’t they just do it? There are lots of reasons people put off doing something that they actually want to do. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to that nasty f-word. Failure.

Who wouldn’t want to take on a project that they feel passionate about and confident that they can do well? If you looked at it that way, you’d want to get started right away. I know I would. But, if you knew there was at least a guaranteed 50% chance of failure, would you be so willing? That’s what often gets us. That very real fear of failure lurking in the background behind everything we want to do. No one wants to fail. Especially when it comes to something that they want to do, and that they want to do well.

That’s why so many of us avoid an opportunity or project that we would normally pounce on. Stranger still is the fact that most people actually are pretty good at the thing they want to do. So really the chances of failing are slim. But in our heads, we turn the project into this mountain that looks impossible to climb. So, we put off our attempts to tackle it. Ironically, then, the chances of failure skyrocket.

You know the feeling. You’ve got the project coming up and you know you can ace it. As people talk about it, you just get more and more excited because you love the topic, you know exactly what direction you want to go with your work and you can’t wait to see how great it’ll be. As the day gets closer, though, you start to get nervous. Maybe my idea isn’t that great. What if I choke when I present it? I don’t know if I really understood what I’m supposed to do. Soon, you’re questioning your ability until you freeze your progress on this amazing thing you were about to do. And then… BOOM! A mediocre performance on something you could have been awesome at.

Let’s stop the madness and just acknowledge the fears so that we can turn on the light and realize that we’ve built them up in our heads to be scarier than they really are. And let’s stop thinking procrastination always means that a person is lazy, because the last thing people need when they’re freaking out is the added anxiety of worrying what people think of them. Let’s all say it loud and proud, “I procrastinate because I care!”

And then we should probably get to work.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Depression Is The Second Leading Cause Of Death In This Country, It's Time We Treated It As Such

Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Cancer will steal 595,690 Americans’ lives each year. They innocently struggle.

Depression disturbs, exploits, and controls 3.3. million American lives each year.

Two fatal illnesses, undiagnosed or improperly treated, each can be lethal.

Keep this in mind.

A young girl, twelve years old, is diagnosed with cancer. During her chemo treatment, she receives construction paper cards from her classmates, weekly hospital visits from her grandparents, ample love and support from peers in town.

Another young girl, twelve years old, is diagnosed with depression. She receives no treatment. She hides. Once enough bravery amasses within, she admits her painful suffering to her parents. The family discovers that their insurance plan will not pay for their daughter’s treatment. Instead of cards and home-made peanut butter cookies, she is met with suspicious remarks, blackmail, threatening stares, anonymous tweets… victimization.

Both young girls, twelve years old, are sick. Depression is a disease. Cancer is a disease. Depression and cancer mock one another’s end goal: the extinguishing of life. Together, their wins accumulate to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives annually.

Depression slurps the vitality out of human beings, ravenous for any trace of dopamine.

It binges on delight and purges the satisfaction, leaving the prey feeling hollow, yet simultaneously ripe with desolation. Depression is a black vacuum, shamelessly swallowing all variations of optimism that can be found in the unsuspecting victim.

The victim lacks control over the mental illness. She is psychologically sick. Her wrists are cut. Her body is drained, for she cannot sleep. Depression, the cannibal, has eaten her alive. Her mind hoards warped perceptions and a skewed self-reflection. Her hair is thin, for her lunches in the school bathroom have not been finished.

Yet, the archetypal passerby feels no empathy. Rather, the passerby treats her with disdain or simply ignores her. She is invisible. If people do see her, she is perceived as hardly human, messed up, and “on the wrong track.” The chatty parents in town hypothesize, “she is making poor choices that have derailed her into self-loathing and harmful behaviors.”

Alternatively, the cancer patient is beheld as an innocent victim of a terminal illness. The passerby glances at her bald scalp and immediately, condolence tickles his insides. The passerby hears about her story in the local news and immediately, donates to her GoFundMe that has been shared on Facebook thousands of times. Outpourings of generosity, prayers and goodwill embrace the cancer victim, supporting her as she fights for her life.

Because, who wouldn’t help an ill adolescent girl … who wouldn’t feel empathy towards a young woman fighting for her life against a murderous monster.

Many people.

The people fighting the psychological disorder are hushed. Their misery is their fault. Empathy is nonexistent. Society fails to categorize depression as a grave mental illness. In fact, it is not an illness at all. Nope, 3.3 million Americans must be “attention seekers.” They must have “chosen the life of agony,” of depression.

Wake up, people.

Depression is rejected. It is evil. It is weird. It is dark. It is silent. Like depression, mental illness in general is virtually ignored. The necessary medical and psychological treatments are both remote and unaffordable. Insurance companies refuse to pay for effective treatment, as they do not categorize mental illness as illnesses at all. The support system for those suffering is a mere web, dwindling on a broken branch.

Illegitimatizing mental illness is the reason that depression is the second leading cause of death in this country.

When the twelve-year-old girl, like any individual, is told that her feelings are not real… her struggles are self-implemented… her illness is not worth fighting for… why live?

Cancer and depression both crave the same thing: to kill. Without proper acknowledgement, without proper treatment, without proper support, both twelve-year-old girls will die.

It is time for our society to wake up and smell the roses before seeing them on top of another casket.

Cover Image Credit: Carolina Heza

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