the lament of the lonely and waiting

the interminable purgatory when you're caught between waiting to find the right medication/waitingtoseethedoctororpsychiatrist/waiting for any medication to work and what is either wellness or what you see as your inevitable demise is one of the hardest things about depression.  it's one of the things looked over the most but cried over constantly. any brief wade into depression forums will yield millions of posts from users beguiling do i really have to wait this long and our depressive forefathers reassuring us to waitwaitwait and swearing it is worth the wait and promising us if we just hang in there it will be okay.  

this period is a time when you make the same decision every day, several times a day.  you wake up and you say "it is just another day" which could mean "another day to bide with my demons" as much as it could mean another day that you might hurt yourself.  because every day you spend teetering on the cusp of something horrible.  and that horrible feeling of inconceivable danger to yourself is something that feels impossible to communicate.  when i finally found the bravery inside of myself to seek help for my depression, it took me a really long time to admit that i was suicidal, and that i was hurting myself.  my doctor was/is the best she could possibly be and i don't think that was her fault - i just think it took me a long time to be able to understand that my sadness was a truth, and not something i should be hiding because truth is something that shines no matter how dark it is.  but you feel like once you finally say the words "i want to kill myself" the world will stop and doctors will join in a circle around you and protect you from the darkness.
so here is the lament of the people to tell you: that's not what happens.
it is a sad confluence of lack of resources and a lack of understanding for what darkness really means, but here is what usually happens.  (it depends of course, on the long list of indicators as to the severity of the threat and suicide risk assessment)
1. your doctor will start you on a medication.  now wait 3-6 weeks for it to kick in.
2. your doctor will refer you to a psychiatrist.  now wait for a YEAR. or several months. and then wait for your appointment.  and THEN wait 3-6 weeks for a medication to kick in.
3. your doctor will refer you to the hospital.  now wait 3-6 weeks for medication to kick in.  

the point is, in the world of mental health, getting better involves a wholllle lotta waiting.  right now i am waiting for my next psychiatry appointment, where i hope to GOD they will find the right medication, so i will wait 2 weeks while i'm weened off my current medication and then 3-6 weeks for the next medication to start it's work.  and hopefully it will work.  the point is, waiting sucks.  and while the point of this post isn't "FIX ALL MENTAL HEALTH CARE!" that is a worthwhile post for someone to write.
what i want doctors and professionals and mental health care workers to know is this: be gentle about it.  
the difference between a doctor telling you with sympathetic eyes that it will take awhile but it will be okay, it will be okay, it will be okay, and a doctor shuffling you out the door is titanic.

waiting is the worst part
if you know someone who is depressed and they are waiting
to feel better
hold their hand.  

i call bull$#it: cutting, suicide, and the things we don't understand

this isn't something i will enjoy writing very much, and might not be something many people enjoy reading.  i don't even particularly want to post it for those reasons.  but the reason i am writing this is for the few people who will read this and say oh my god yes, because even if we can talk about depression there are a lot of parts of depression that are still so hard to say and to speak and to call our own.  i've been depressed for six years and woven in and out of that time have been little threads of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and disordered eating.  so i'm going to pull on those threads a little now, to unravel the biggest pieces of stigma in sadness; the things people understand the least.  so for now i'll start with cutting.  

here are my own pieces of truth. 
i'm not saying it or talking about cutting and self-harm it for any other reason than this: i want other people to be able to talk about it too.  there is something so isolating in the most absolute complete way about being suicidal and hurting yourself.  it feels subhuman.  it feels like the most basic thing- some kind of survival that should be a primal instinct and shared in all of humanity- is just, missing.  i don't feel particularly brave for posting what i posted before, and i feel kind of nauseous about posting this because it feels empty and savage but it is all true and so i am sending it into the world with the hope that it will find another truth, somewhere, and make it okay.  okay to talk about and just a lot less scary.  


self-harm and suicide are probably one of the most misunderstood things about depression and mental health.
there is the obvious impact and immediate emotional stress on people that release the theories of attention seeking and the greed and selfishness of suicide, which is totally understandable.  obviously when someone close to you hurts themselves you will wring your heart trying to find answers.  but those theories linger, and they are a bit wrought with inevitable angst and sadness and a lot less founded in the hearts of the depressed than in the hearts of their friends.  because i can absolutely guarantee you that it just isn't like that.  at no point in my life has any mark on my arm or body been for anybody but me.  i have gone through phases of hiding things, having back up stories in case people ask, or just being too out of it to even think someone would notice and realize what was going on.  

i've never really understood all of the dynamics around cutting and attention-seeking.  this is of course referring to the semantics of being emo and/or cutting for attention.  by this i mean, so what? is it not sufficiently messed up for people that someone would go to the extent of physically harming themselves for attention?  and also, is there something seriously wrong with longing for the love of others?  because i'm pretty sure just about everything we do is for love. buuut i've never been so worried about that.  if someone accused me of attention seeking they would either be obviously wrong or obviously right and in both cases all i have to do is speak, because that's just straight up bs.  and i will tell you that if you talk about me or anyone else who has hurt themselves like that: bullshit.  it does bother me some, really- to think about the severe complex systems of my heart and to see it so unpoetically simplified.  to think that someone can take the most titanic shadows in my life and turn them into trivialities, to diminish them to something that is found in the world most people have instead of something spun from a darker place.  and that is part of my pet peeve about "crazy ex-girlfriend/boyfriend" banter as well - you are diminishing something that is so much more than those words.  something that is much more than my words.  and so i will tell you that for me, cutting was always a very personal experience. i honestly don't even know why i started, why it occurred to me as something to do.  theories around control and the seduction of controlling pain make sense to me but there is more to it than that.  the word that fits is release.  that is the only word that completely fills the feeling for me.  it is like you are full of dark and heavy air and it just leaves when you hurt yourself (either by throwing up, or by cutting, or burning, or whatever).  it just feels like all of the darkness and weight escapes and light seeps in through your pores and you can sigh and smile again.  that's what it feels like.  the other thing about it is they are personal trophies and badges.  they are for me and me alone.  they show my pain and it becomes a weird poetic obsession, and it is dark and horrible but that is the truth.  it is something i have moved beyond at the moment, and my last scars are from june, which is very good for me.  but i could make a map of my arms for you and show you every scar i have ever had.  

but cutting is a scary world.  cutting is a world where once you start it is just so SO hard to stop.  it is a world where anything can trigger you to go running to the nearest room and finding the nearest not-totally-blunt-object and it puts you in a world that is so much worse than anywhere you've ever been before.  i never took my efforts to stop hurting myself seriously until an exasperated meaggy asked my old therapist why i would bother stopping, and she replied so simply "because if you don't, you'll never get better."

my scars are a direct communication line between me and my demons that excludes the rest of the world.  it is a language that is only spoken by darkness.  it pulls you out of the world, and when it brings you back you are full of this air that means nothing.  and you can float on that air for a little while but it takes you further and further away from the world that matters.  if there is one thing that scares people with depression, it is the thought of forever, of an eternity of madness and just never getting better.  in case it isn't clear what i'm saying here is this: try not to hurt yourself.  it is a bad idea.

but what i really want to say is this: don't even talk about the things you don't understand.  because i don't think i've ever heard bs about cutting from someone who has experienced it themselves.  don't think about suicide as greedy if you have never been there - anyone who has been close enough to suicide can tell you that it is an absolute coma of darkness, and no kind of reasoning or information about other people can penetrate that little haze of misery.  it's just not about that.  it is a total haze where everything is nothing.  when i would hurt myself, somewhere inside of me i must have known that it would hurt the people who loved me - but depression silences that part of things, and makes the voices of others impossible to hear sometimes.
if you want to be a champion of non-stigma, all you need to do is listen. and listening means knowing what you can't hear alone.  because the damage that is done by the words we string together about greed, attention, neediness, and weakness is not just that it's wrong.  it's bullshit. it's bullshit because it stops the conversation with words that don't fit at all, and diminishes something so deeply personal into something so minuscule.  so there it is.  i call bullshit.  if you joke about slitting your wrists, cutting yourself, or talk about someone who is emo for those reasons, i will call bullshit.  because people deserve more than that.  i don't want scars to be jokes.

post-script: this is mostly based on the campaign by partners for mental health, let's call bulls#!t.  you should check it out. there are some really striking words on their wall.

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