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Preface: There Are Things Worse Than Wanting To Die

1. Lena Dunham

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I used to want to die. And that, in and of itself, is an epic tragedy about family drama, self-doubt, and the pressures of perfection. But why I wanted to die isn't important yet. It just needs to be known that there was a time and space in which I existed where I wanted to end my life. So much so that I tried to prepare those closest to me for a world that didn't have me in it. What a fucking plan that was. All that "preparation" did was end some of my most valued friendships and start a war with my mother that we don't really talk about but never resolved. More importantly, it taught me that you could come to a place where you decide not to take your life and still lose it. But that's neither here nor there now because the feeling that my life had value was short-lived. Honestly, I faked getting better (like 'better' isn't a moving target) on some "I'm doing this for the people I love but more importantly I'm doing it for me" bullshit. All the while, for the last three years I was going back and forth between saying "fuck this depression" and wanting to drive my car off of a bridge. 'Was' being the critical word there. Things are different now.

The dramatics isn't to say that I finally found some beacon of self-enlightenment and have become the poster child for overcoming depression because I'm vast seas and oceans and landmasses from that. I still know my sweats and t-shirts very well. I still have that weight that sits on my chest. My pillows are still soaked in tears and anxiety. Now, though, I've found a feeling different and more crushing than wanting to die. I'm at a point so deep in my depression that I don't think about hurling myself off of a building, blowing my head off or downing a bunch of pills anymore because I know I'm too chicken shit and too indecisive to ever do any of those things. So I don't lay in bed thinking about killing myself or even wishing for a shining break in the darkness anymore. Instead of obsessing over something I can control, I lay and hope for things that I can't. And that's worse.

On the good days, I play out these scenarios in my head where I win a contest on a talk show or become someone famous. I've imagined myself palling around with Ellen or laughing with Jimmy Fallon as I tell him a story about my childhood. In these fictional interview segments, I usually talk about providing for my family in a lavish manner and putting my friends on for being there for me whenever I needed them. I cried the time I thought about what it'd be like if I'd won the HGTV dream home. I can still feel the smile I had on my face. I was free, momentarily; from all the blockades the world had placed in front of my dreams. I had energy to just be and it was so beautiful. For that handful of moments, my account wasn't overdrawn. I wasn't couch surfing. I wasn't worried about where my next meal was coming from. I could finally JUST focus on school and my future. I was a little kid on Christmas Eve that day. I know what my dream kitchen looks like and what car I'd buy if I won the lottery because of this wishful, destructive thinking. In those moments I could be successful and influential. I could invest in my friend's talents. I could be something that, at the present moment, I am not. I could be happy. And then the microwave beeps or my phone rings introducing me, again, to my life and in that heart-breaking instant, my spirit crumbles into even lesser, more pathetic pieces than the rubble it was just minutes before. In that instance, reality is a mirror and there I am. With all my issues. With all my failures and shortcomings. With all my depression.

Recently, I've started to have these dreams, almost on a daily basis where something terrible happens to me. The word nightmare doesn't even begin to describe it, especially since they happen at different unsuspecting moments of the day. A car crash. A natural disaster. Police Brutality. These are the bad days. I've had dreams that my entire family died in some freak accident in the house I grew up in. I get this sharp pain right above my stomach every time I think about it. The horror of never being able to hug my brother again is crippling. I have to call him every time I have this dream. I've been attacked by gangs, watched my best friend die in my arms, and been held hostage at gunpoint in my head. The worst and only reoccurring part about these day terrors is that I always survive, usually in a newfound state of loneliness or heartbreak but because of whatever ordeal I've just suffered I inherit a house and car or sue the city for millions of dollars and all of a sudden I don't have any responsibilities or burdens aside from a dead family, missing limb, or some major loss of dignity and just like with my deceptive visions of riches or fame, a sensation rushes over me that eases the tensions that mountains of worries and uncertainties have created. There's got to be something wrong when I can be at peace in a moment like that, right? I've probably got to be some type of fucked up to feel a sense of relief in a situation, hypothetical or not, in which I've sacrificed something of great importance for a chance to get out from under these storm clouds.

The point to all of this is that I've fallen to a valley in my depression in which I can only find joy thinking about horrible, morbid situations or near impossible ones. My entire life revolves around these fleeting moments when my imagination wrestles reality to conjure up a place where I've paid an ultimate price or beat incredible odds but no longer have burdens and can finally be, at the very least, content with my life. I can't tell if I'm just running away from my basic responsibilities, looking for a free ride in life or if this disease is breaking me down bit by self-destructing bit so much that I'm losing my mind. I can hear my grandfather's voice in my head telling me I'm just being lazy and as I write this all down I'm thinking about how much damage these visions of grandeur are really doing and I'm scared. The self-medicating I'm doing by creating these alternate realities for myself obviously isn't helpful because for every bit of false bliss I experience I pay in a wealth of pain and self-loathing.

I guess the point of all this is to figure out how I got to this place. I'm going to go on this journey of self-discovery and I'm going to bring you all along for the ride to keep me honest. Maybe you all can figure out why you're at a particular point in your lives as well. Feel free to share what you learn with me as I share what I learn with you all. I'm going to try to be brave and I promise to be open about everything as we try to figure ourselves out together. Stay tuned.

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