As in Lernaean Hydra, the many headed serpent in Greek Mythology. You know the one where they chopped off its head for only three more heads to appear in its place.
That is the name I have given my depression.
Through my course of self-seeking awareness both with trained professionals and on my own accord, I was told we should name our depression. Naming your depression makes it a tangible entity in your head and helps you battle it out for your sanity. If you are like me and many others suffering with this disease, name it. Name it and battle back. It’s not an easy fight and it probably never will be. I can guarantee you will be defeated by it time and time again. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I can promise you that. For every minute, hour, day, week, month, year you go not feeling like a hopeless loser you are winning. Even if it’s only for two minutes that you genuinely feel good about yourself or your place in life, you have dealt your depression a huge blow.
I am going to share my story with the hope that it helps someone. I want everyone in my position to know that you are never alone, there is a whole world of people out there going through what you are going through. We for some reason never talk about it. Maybe that is due to shame or society’s refusal to recognize this is a legitimate disease. I am here to tell you I believe you, I believe your pain is real and I believe what you are facing is legitimate.
The first time I was committed to a psychiatric hospital something amazing happened. I was on a 51/50, suicide watch in plain speak. I had just attempted to take my life and by the grace of the universe I was unsuccessful. Came pretty damn close but unsuccessful nonetheless. Even in that fragile of a mindset the system treats us so horribly. Here I am being rushed to the hospital practically dead, I mean I could see myself not in my body, so I am pretty sure I was knocking on the gates to the other side. The fine doctors at this particular emergency room worked their magic, somehow were able to resurrect me like fucking Frankenstein, made sure I made just enough of a recovery and committed me to the looney bin. Still dazed not fully comprehending what just happened to me, hooked up to IV lines, insides burning like crazy, also extremely upset that I was still alive. I am brought by paramedics to another facility where they proceed to strip me of my shoelaces, hair ties, drawstrings and bra. Offered apple juice and taken to a room with a complete stranger who looks just as fucked up as I am. There we lay in silence as I look around the room. First thing I notice no rods or strings of any kind. No planks, no hooks to windows, no lock on the door, no shower curtain, nothing to really elevate yourself on, hell I think even the toilet had a weird contraption around it.
I sleep because my body still feels like shit, apparently attempting to kill yourself is very taxing act on your body. I find out pretty quickly that sleep is impossible in that place, people are having mental break-downs left and right, screaming is a common thing, new persons are constantly being checked in. And the damn nurses come around every couple of hours to check your vitals and pump you with meds. All the while you are laying there thinking I don’t belong here. I mean I know I just tried to kill myself but I am not crazy like these guys are.
I found out through the course of my stay, that I was indeed crazy like those guys were and I did belong there at least for a little while. Day three is when the magic really started happening for me. I finally decided to get out of bed and go to group therapy. In therapy almost everyone shared their story of what happened that landed them there. And you know what? We all almost shared the same exact story. We all felt like we were wronged by the people in our lives, that we didn’t matter to anyone, that we were never good enough and would never be good enough, and that everyone would be so much better off without us dragging them down. In that moment of despair we all made a choice. At least in this circle, we all get very drunk, had a confrontation with someone we cared about, which resulted in the push over the edge. Then reached for whatever was the most opportune item at the time. And made the decision to end it. Most with pills, others with a gun, one with a knife and another with a combo of pills and a belt. It was the most tragic thing I had ever heard but also the clearest moment in my life.
In that group session I realized for the first time that I was not alone. My pain was not as unique to me as I thought it was and here I was sitting with 8 other people who felt exactly the same way I had at the time. And they were all so supportive of each other, one person was like, “why would you want to hurt yourself over a boy? You are fucking beautiful that guy is a dumbass!” While another would say, “Dude fuck your mom and her favoring your brother over you, I bet he’s a douche anyway, you are way better than the both of them!” It was really amazing to see and feel all the support and love coming from a bunch of strangers who knew nothing about each other, other than fact that we all shared a common link. We all reached our breaking point and gave up and now we are all rallying for one another to stand up and live again. Choose life, fuck that voice inside your head, you are enough 100 times over. Get up and fucking fight. Fight for your will to live, regain control of what is yours and fucking kill it.
I named mine the Hydra because my battle with it is never ending. I have been depressed for as far back as I can remember. I am not lying, I remember having suicidal thoughts as early as the age of 8. I have always been a very depressed individual. I know now, the origin of most of it.
The Hydra started off as an ugly one-headed serpent, then I started self-medicating to escape from its claws. Anything and everything that was mind-altering was fair game for me. I self-medicated a lot. I am pretty sure if you take a look at my brain you will see the evidence of the abuse there. The problem with self-medicating is, each time I did it I was chopping off the head of the Hydra. As the story goes, with each chop, three more rise. Instead of facing one ugly ass demon I was now faced with a thousand.
I call the day of my attempted suicide, my Master Reset Day. This post is important to me because today marks the fourth year anniversary of that date. The days, weeks and months following the Master Reset Day I gained a type of clarity and momentum I never had before. I defeated the Hydra for the time. It went from being a one-thousand-headed monster back to a three-headed one. I began to see the Hydra as a more manageable opponent. I am far from being cured, that's important to know.
I can admit that I have contemplated taking my life on four other occasions following the Master Reset Day, the difference is I haven’t acted on it. I have tricked my mind into knowing I am worth living for. I am aware that others go through what I go through. I have made the Hydra my bitch for the most part. She can still manage to kick my ass some days. But I persevere, I push through and have faith there is a better day ahead. I have found outlets to help me through. Mostly writing, that works for me. I’ve embraced discipline. And I talk about it. If you need tricks to help cope or even an ear to listen to you, hell leave a message and I’ll talk to you.
The point is you are worth it, and you owe it to yourself to continue the fight. For those we have lost in the battle, we owe it to them to live on in their memory.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.