This I Know
Do you know who I am?
What I do?
Why I'm online and on social media?
No? I'm not sure that I can answer those questions either.
This, I know:
I know I'm a damn mess.
I know, at one time, I wanted very much to die. Even now, I awaken some mornings and think, "Fuck. Not dead." Not nearly as often as before, but occasionally.
I know that wanting to die is different from being suicidal.
In an effort to remain above ground, I quit a demanding job, sold everything I owned, and currently live, work, and travel in a 2010 Toyota Sienna. If you're not car-savvy, it's a minivan. A vehicle that could be considered pedestrian, yet it's my passport to self-actualization. A trendy term, but an endeavor necessary to save myself and move forward into a full and satisfying life.
Samus, my blind rescue cat, keeps me company and has asserted her dominance as the boss of me.
I know that depression is an insidious soul-sucking, alienating, selfish, destructive beast.
I also know what brings me great joy.
My son. I realize that having him at the top of my list may be an enormous burden on this young man. Nonetheless, I do not for one moment believe that he is responsible for me. I am the architect of my own joy. I find the deepest joy and gratitude in his existence, our relationship, being a mother. His mother. It is my greatest happiness.
Travel. Second only to my son. Specifically, road trips. Hence the nomadic lifestyle in the quintessential early twenty-first century soccer-mom vehicle. It is my salvation.
Photography. I’m a hack, but it’s my favorite creative outlet.
Stories. Not to be confused with my own writing. I don't like writing; it's hard to write well. The joy is my immersion in someone else's story experienced through literature, movies, music, or podcasts. I genuinely revere an enchanting storyteller. Stories let me safely feel my feelings when I want to feel them.
I know I must protect that which brings me joy as I meet my demons.
I know I have a message to share, but I can't quite hone in on exactly what that is. I thought I had identified it as surviving depression and learning how to live meaningfully as it continues to walk beside me. But, it’s not that simple. There’s more to it. I cannot affirm that I’ve defeated depression. Therefore, I have no advice, nor have I found the path to good mental health.
Perhaps the "more" is the entire chaotic odyssey. The good, the bad, and the ugly. While I’ve improved and there are indeed periods when I feel I'm on my way to better days, I am a black pit of unresolved issues that are a considerable barrier to living well. They inhibit how I move in the world. They prevent me from connecting, from nurturing the relationships that define my place in that world, despite feeling that I really don’t fit in with any tribe.
As I determine how to untangle and articulate the turmoil, I'll share. This declaration isn’t new, but allowing myself to be authentically vulnerable is. I feel an urgency to work harder on myself, and disclose an honest public accounting of the process.
Oh God, that sounds insufferably self-indulgent and mind-numbing. Nevertheless, I'm doing it unapologetically online and on social media. Primarily for myself. If nobody ever reads a word I write, this I know: I need to be a better me to feel that life is truly worth living.
Mental Health Resources
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Available 24/7. Your call is confidential and free
makeitok.org Organization committed to destigmatizing mental illness through education
The Hilarious World of Depression Podcast. Honest conversations with people that have suffered from and dealt with depression. Affiliated with makeitok.org