This isn’t a cry for help, though it is writing-as-therapy. I’d like to be clear that I’m safe: I am coping even though I am struggling. Right now, my depression feels like I’m outside in a thunderstorm and while every rational part of me knows eventually the torrential rain will stop, I’m struggling to believe that the downpour will end. This post talks about suicidal ideation, depression and the darker parts of my mental illness, so please consider this your content warning.
The words rumble in my head and I can’t stop them coming closer. It’s like being outside in a thunderstorm – I measure the time between the flashes of blinding light and the crashes of thunder. I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t be afraid, because the thunder is just words. Words that are as harmless as raindrops, even though they roar through my mind with the strength to split the sky open. When I talk to my therapist, I describe them as intrusive thoughts. But it’s not someone else’s voice: it’s mine, asking ‘can I kill myself?’ over and over again until it’s the only thing I can hear. I am stronger than the thunderstorm only in my ability to survive it. I’m terrified that one day I might not, so I make a list of all the little things that make the struggle worth it.
Scalding hot water in a shower that makes me feel alive again.
Getting absorbed in the book I’m reading and finishing it in one sitting.
Sex with two of my favourite humans.
I’ve reached the point in the thunderstorm when I have begun to consider giving up. Fighting is hard; battling the storm is exhausting. My depression channels my embarrassment at all the stupid and selfish, humiliating and harmful things I’ve done or said into self-hatred that overwhelms me. I could drown in all the reasons the world would be better off with out me – each raindrop in this thunderstorm is a time I have hurt someone I love, and my guilt traps me in a hollow that will steadily fill with water as the thunder roars overhead. I am chilled to the bone and soaking wet, and fighting is really fucking hard. The growling thunder tells me that I am worthless until I believe it and can’t see the point in continuing to struggle on.
My ‘lesbian jeans’ and the confidence they give me.
The not-at-all ridiculous dream to buy my own bookcases one day.
The utterly ridiculous dream that I could change the world.
Medication helps hold the thunderstorms at bay, but the dark storm clouds don’t ever fully disappear from the landscape of my life. In the middle of a thunderstorm, it’s easier to remember that than all the little things that give me hope. It’s easy to remember that I’ve been fighting for three years – maybe more – and it hasn’t got better. I still end up alone in the thunderstorm, clinging to flights of fancy to get me through. I know that it will get better, but I know it theoretically, in the way I know that I am loved. When lighting cuts the sky and the wind screams at me to give up, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I am strong enough to not struggle with my depression every day. And if I’m not, what is the point in fighting through thunderstorm after thunderstorm? Sometimes it feels like I am just surviving one to be soaked in the next.
Laughing so hard at comedy podcasts that I’m worried I might pee.
The smell of still-warm laundry.
Gooey chocolate-and-raspberry melt-in-the-mouth brownies.
These are just a few of all the little things. I hold them close as I run through the thunderstorm, clutching them to my chest and trying to keep them safe. They keep me safe, even if some of them seem silly – things that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. Choosing my clothes so I flag as queer and kinky. Hugs that make me feel safe. Knowing I’m still the person you talk to about shit like this. Flashes of pride at having turned you on. LGBTQIA+ YA literature. Looking up at the stars on a cold, clear night. Knowledge that I can actually write – sometimes at least. These are the things that make life worth living, the things that are powerful enough that I can remember them even when the thunderstorm is throwing everything it has at me.
We stay alive for all the little things – so make a list or take a fucking photo. I’ve never not survived a thunderstorm in the past, so I’ll get through this one too. I’ll emerge soaking wet and exhausted – battling not only the thunderstorm but my own fear that I won’t survive it. I’m tired. I’m really fucking tired and all I can do right now is try to hold on to all the little things and outlast the thunderstorm.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, please know you’re not alone. Reach out to someone. You do matter to the people in your life, even if it doesn’t feel like it – even if learning that feels like the hardest thing you ever have to do. Please don’t give me unsolicited advice about how to deal with my depression. If you’re tempted to do so, please read this post by GOTN first, and if you want to do something helpful then offer support in a solicited way: namely by tagging me in a tweet with a cute kitten gif.