Sunday, May 4, 2014

Would You Tell Them to Wear Purple?

Someone once asked, "Are you strong enough to face the harshest realities of life?"

Maybe not. But I am stubborn and bold enough to do so, and so far I've always come out alive.

I like to think that stubbornness is my worst quality and best quality. Maybe it is good if you think of it as persistence or determined resolve. It's all about the connotation. If not for the stubborn tendency to not let anyone tell me what to do, not even the unmentionable dark recesses of my mind, I probably wouldn't be alive right now. Depression is a monster that tells me I am worthless, unimportant, a failure, that all the horrendous things others say or think about me are true, but the stubborn little light in the back of my mind nags at me that they are wrong and things will get better. Somehow.

I've been struggling recently, trying to prevent myself from falling back into a deep depression, and I don't know if I'm succeeding yet or not. All I know is that I will not give up, for my own sake, and my friends' sake. Sometimes I wonder, will it really matter, would they miss me if I were gone, and the little rational part of my brain warns me not to try it to find out the answer. I am "suicidal," but I do not like that word. I do not plan on killing myself within the next ten years at least. At times, I simply wish to cease existing. There is a difference. But still I wonder what would happen. Would they have a day of remembrance, saying how much I was loved, and how much I will be missed, and how I was a angel too good for this earth? Would my friends tell everyone to wear purple, or will they all just wear black, like the others.

Last Monday, the school administration found out that a senior named Chris was dead. On Wednesday morning, in first and second period, the teachers informed the students. There were rumors, that he had committed suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge, that he was missing for five days before the police found him. That evening, ASB posted Facebook messages telling everyone to wear black. On Thursday, only about half the school did. There was a poster up in the quad for people to sign, but what good does that do? Very, very few, if any, of those people would have actually known him. And it's already too late.

I was in shock. Though I did not know Chris personally, I had known his twin sister, and could not imagine the emotions she was going through. I had spent Tuesday night without a minute of sleep, pulling a miserable all-nighter for AP English, so sitting in first period half asleep, I couldn't quite process the information. The rest of that period was a haze, and second period math was not much better. The teacher read the letter from the school again, and for the rest of the period, I was drifting in and out of consciousness from confusion and lack of sleep. I kept thinking that as long as I didn't fall out of my chair, and maintain a sense of normalcy, everything could be ok. I escaped from math unnoticed, but third period was spent in the nurse's office, taking a nap to get away from the headache and befuddlement. There was no way I could have taken the final in that class in that condition, and I was lucky that the teacher was quite understanding. The rest of the day drifted by, and I skipped swim practice because everything seemed to be falling apart.

That night I stayed up late again to finish more assignments for AP English, and in the morning, I simply could not wake up. I stayed home for first and second period, missing the science final that I was not aware was happening that day. The rest of the day, I focused on staying quiet and unnoticed, appearing normal on the outside, but on the inside, a raging vortex of turmoil swirled around as I tried to process everything that was going on.

First of all, I wondered why. Surely there was nothing in reality that was so insurmountable that it was worth dying for. Still, I knew that sometimes it is not a choice. Depression is a thought that you would do anything to end. Depression screams in one's head, a voice that cannot be silenced by willpower, a different state of mind that cannot be reasoned with. In those moments, the urge is real, and there are very few ways to stop those thoughts.

Second of all, I wondered who was to blame. Were his parents making his life difficult? How could his sister not have known? What did his teachers think? Did his friends try to help? But most of all, why didn't you tell anyone first? But I know the answer. The fear, the shame, and the stigma holds back too many. Because it is your own fault if there is something wrong with your brain. Because you have everything in life, because someone always has it worse, because what do you have to complain about? I know. But there is something so inherently flawed with that logic. If you can't be sad because someone has it worse, then you can't be happy either if someone has it better. From the outside, I have a perfect life. But on the inside, there is something wrong with me, that magnifies all of my problems until they threaten to crush me with the weight of the world.

Third of all, I kept on thinking, "That could have been me." But it wasn't.

I have my friends, and particularly one friend, to thank for opening up the door to let me get help. I was at first terrified of going to the counselor, letting people know what I was going though at the time, because I wanted everyone to think there wasn't anything wrong with me and that it was all okay. It wasn't. She went to the counselor first, for slightly different reasons, and seeing that someone else had thought I was important enough to let me know of their weaknesses inspired me to get help as well. Since then, I have talked about it to other people, and only now have I realized that this type of communication is one of the only things that can help people open up and save themselves before it is too late. If only people would talk more and be willing to admit their weaknesses.

Still, it comes at a cost. The first friend who had talked to me and I are no longer as close, and it may very well be likely that it is the extent of my depression that is to blame. It is a burden and it is scary to know other people's problems, and I don't blame her. I only wish that I wasn't so messed up on the inside so we could be friends again.

I am better now. Though I feel like school is slowly suffocating me, there are days when those thoughts do not exist. On Friday, the swim team went to BVALs championships, and everything that was going on meant that there wasn't any space for the destructive thoughts. I swam well, and I felt triumphant and happy. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: life is full of pointless BS, but it isn't all pointless BS. It's those moments that you have to live for.

The car ride home from the meet, his death was discussed. There came a point near the end of the conversation that someone mentioned, "You know, suicide is really selfish." I could understand why they thought that, but how about the other people too absorbed in themselves to care about how someone else was doing, or to take the time to let someone know that they care. 

There's nothing more I can say except that it is tragic. This society is far from a time when people with mental illnesses are not treated as shameful outcasts, but no matter what, I will remain stubborn. I am different. It's not a good type of different, but I can live with it, for the most part. There won't be a time in the near future where everyone at school will wear purple and sign posters and say good things. Not for me.

I'm not really sure where I was going with this post.

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