My Black Dog

Published in Featured - 8 mins to read

The sadness is like a blanket now. It’s as if it’s raining outside, and I am underneath the blanket, away from the world, dry and relatively warm. But it’s never going to stop raining.

There is something very familiar and comforting about feeling depressed to me now. I’ve felt this way for so long, sometimes it feels like a warm bath - I don’t want to get out. I’ve been wondering why I sometimes feel like I don’t even want to try to be happier. When I was younger, perhaps it was for attention, a cry for help, affection and love, but now I almost never tell anyone if I feel down (which usually lasts for at least a week), and maybe people notice a change in me, but they rarely say anything. I think it’s because it’s easy. Imagine if you saw the world in black and white and grey for your whole life, and then saw everything in violent colour. Would you cry tears of joy and sing and dance, or be overwhelmed, and ask to turn things back?

The sadness is frustrating sometimes too, as much as it feels cosy. A few years ago I thought I would always feel this way, that I would never be happy, and so it seemed logical to me to euthanise myself on compassionate grounds. I recently had a pretty good 18 months though, where I spent a lot of it genuinely happy - I saw the world in colour. When I feel sad, I don’t want to kill myself anymore, I can see the way out, it is just frustrating to feel sad. It’s still difficult, I have to endure, but I know it will pass. In some ways it’s easier than before, in some ways it’s harder. I don’t talk to anyone about any of this like I used to. Instead, I write here, the void of the internet, where everybody could read what I write, or nobody could. I always felt guilty for talking about how I felt to anyone in particular, it’s not really fair to tell one person: “I’m planning on ending my own life”. Because, really, what the fuck is that person meant to do?

Expressing my feelings to nobody in particular feels good, there’s no expectancy of any kind of response. The abyss of the internet isn’t going to comfort me, I am shouting into the mouth of the cave, curious to see if I’ll hear an echo. I find it almost impossible to reach out to someone and say that something in particular is on my mind, and I want to talk about it. I think it came from my childhood relationship with my parents, and how we never talked about our feelings. We still don’t. Sometimes they encourage me to, and I appreciate it, but they never talk about how they feel, so I don’t know what to say. I feel like a burden to them, and I’m scared I always will. I wonder what it must be like to have a chronically ill child. I tried to shield them from a lot of what I was going through, and I think I was successful to some extent, but they still know I used to cut myself. I wonder how they felt when they found out.

I’ve known for a while that my formative years had been the source of the struggle to express myself, so I thought it’d be relatively straightforward to start overcoming it. It often feels like one of those nightmares where I’m screaming but no sound is coming out, and I can’t wake up. I think I realised the rest of the story recently - I don’t understand why people are friends with me. It sounds so needy, as if begging to be flattered, but it’s true. I remember my ex girlfriend used to tell me she’d love me, and I’d ask her why, because it didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes people tell me I’m funny, or I’m smart. I am “funny” because I make jokes to get validation when people laugh. Because I’m “smart”, the expectations of me in school were much higher than what I actually achieved, causing a rift between my parents and I that might never fully heal. I could probably think of a similar whiny rebuttal for any positive characteristic though, so it’s not that there isn’t something about me that isn’t likeable, I just choose not to like it. Maybe nobody knows why anyone likes them, they can just accept it and move on. For whatever reason, I can’t. I’m more than happy to talk about any problems that my friends have, in fact it makes me feel kinda good that they trust me and value my opinion. But I’m not going to share any of my problems with them, in case that upsets the balance of our relationship - as if it’s an egg balanced on its side. If I can’t see a reason to like myself, when I say to someone “hey, I’m struggling with this, can you help me?” I feel like I am burdening them, much like my parents. Why would anyone want to carry my burden?

Perhaps I will snap out of it one day, or meet someone who will change how I feel, but I can’t say I’m optimistic about that. Perhaps it’s something I need to work on gradually, but I don’t know where or how to start, what words to use and in which order to use them. Maybe I should go back to therapy, but that is frustrating too. I went to an assessment appointment a couple of months ago and they said that they would help me to help myself - why can’t I help myself help myself? If I meditate enough, write enough of those posts, read enough, talk to enough people, will I find the answer hidden one day?

I remembered earlier this week, it’s been about 6 years and 1 month since the first time I had planned on killing myself. It’s odd to think that the last 6 years and 1 month might not have happened, and that I am living on borrowed time. I feel like I should be happy, grateful, appreciative. I’m not.

I was going to end it on a specific day in February, I can’t remember the date, but I do remember it was a Wednesday. I’d been planning for months. I’d written letters to my friends and family, by way of an apology for what I was about to do, asking them to understand that this was what was best for me, and it was what I wanted, there was nothing they could have done, and instead of being sad, to be happy that I wasn’t suffering anymore. I think I wrote ~10 overall, and I eventually got rid of most of them, although I have a feeling I hid one specifically in a book somewhere, but I haven’t found it since. I can’t remember who it was to. I do remember writing the first 6-7 and feeling fairly numb, and then getting to one person’s in particular and crying and crying and crying. The page was so wet I considered starting again. I wrote to her that I thought her middle name was one of the most beautiful names I’d known, and hoped if she ever had a daughter she called her that. I’m not really sure what I was thinking or why I would tell her that, I was 16 and had no idea about anything.

I was going to hang myself. I knew where, when, how, what with, etc, I’d done my research, and hanging has a pretty good chance of success and relatively low pain endured if you do it right. I’d told a different girl about my plan, and that Wednesday was the day. I suppose I told her because part of me didn’t want to die. I couldn’t see a way out other than suicide, but I figured if there was one, it probably started with telling her.

It was Tuesday, and I got a message from a guy I knew from fencing who was a bit older than me. It was a mutual friend’s birthday at the weekend, and he asked if I wanted to swing by his office after school so we could get her a present together. I can’t remember if I was suspicious or not, I have a feeling I bought it completely, but maybe part of me hoped what was going to happen would happen. Obviously, the birthday present was a ruse. He’d found out everything, and was going to drive me to child services immediately. I don’t remember being given much choice, I didn’t resist, but I wonder what would have happened if I’d have refused or ran away.

Either way, I ended up and the children’s health and social services department. I had to speak to a strange women I’d never met before, she asked me all kinds of questions. I remember her asking me if my parents had ever sexually abused me [they haven’t]. I cried a lot. I think it was one of the worst experiences of my life. But the next day was Wednesday, and I didn’t kill myself.