We Don’t Know How to Talk About Them

The words are tethered to my tongue, and somehow, unraveling them feels like a Herculean task.   Then, I came across a Buzzfeed article written in memory of Aletha Pinnow, who took her life at the age of 31.  Her sister, Eleni, authored a poignant and heartbreaking letter about her sister.  In the text, Pinnow admits, “It seems like the only reason depression and suicide are such pervasive problems is because we don’t know how to talk about them,”. I, with that, want to talk about it.  I’m done beating around the bush in moody poetry and euphemisms.  I want to call this exactly what it is, to name the shadows inside myself: I am suicidal.   With the limited vocabulary and hesitancy of what repercussions there will be for posting something like this, I don’t know how to beat these thoughts. They’ve plagued me for more than half of my young life.  But I do know how to write, and while society hasn’t dug deep enough to find term to frame depression and suicide, I’m going to try to find them.  I’m self-conscious about having my picture attached to this, about allowing my name to be tied to this. I’m worried about what people will think about this.  But part of the problem with depression and suicide is how nameless it is.  We share our stories in past-tense, never acknowledging that silence becomes self-mutilation.  For as much as it terrifies me that this letter’s digital footprints will follow my future, I want to live more than I am afraid.

Like I said earlier, I’ve been suicidal before. I’ve crawled out of this before.  But every time depression claws its way back to me, it feels unfathomable to outrun it.  Depression makes a grain of sand into a ton of concrete—with me beneath it.  Sunday nights are the worst.  Almost every Sunday, my brain fades to gray, and the only pulse I feel surges, “End it. Just end it”.  I make myself a promise, “Just make it until Friday, and then you can end it”.  I think about the clean up—about an after that doesn’t include me and all the rubble you can’t see but someone else would have to move.  Were I to end my life, I want the transition for everyone to be as smooth as possible.  Life will go on whether I am alive or not.  It goes on.  It always does.

I am inconsequential. This is a fact in numbers: there are 7 billion people on the planet.  The loss of one nameless girl who apologizes for things that aren’t her fault will go largely unnoticed.  I live in a city where I have no support network and know few people.  For instance, I’ve been writing this at my desk at work and no one has noticed. My life is in cities I no longer call home.   I’m not the first name on anyone’s tongue.  The only way I know love is through a secondary language, the second part of a compound sentence.  I feign gratitude for table scraps of affection. I want to be grateful for being loved at all, but the shrinking fighter in my head reminds me that I deserve to be loved without a parenthesis, that I do not have to settle for scraps that will leave me little more than starving.

My head plays musical chairs between my depression and coaching myself through it. Frankly, I’ve had some pretty scarring experiences in counseling, and sometimes, that withering warrior in my head is better than all the “professionals” who I’ve seen.  I tell myself that mattering cannot be quantified.  I remind myself that when I was in high school, a classmate took her own life.  I’ve never forgotten her name, and we never met.  I’m addicted to inspirational quotes, to writing sincere cards and letters and text to those in my life who I love.  I put out into the world all the things I hope to get myself, in the hope that (at the very least) maybe someone else won’t hurt like I am. To a small community of people, I am an example.  What does it say to them if this is how I chose to leave?  How can I express such love and affection to them and abandon them? This is the main reason I say alive.  I do not want to be a cautionary tale told in someone else’s words.  I don’t want to be an excuse or colored by all the things I couldn’t mend together.

My reflexes urge me to end this entry on a hopeful note, on something that will make another’s eyes comfortable. I tend to do that—wrap agony in a bow so its delivery is soft and comfortable to other people.  Hope is scarce.  I feel like a have a golf ball lodged in my throat all the time and a dagger in my chest every day.  What I wouldn’t give to not feel broken. What I wouldn’t give to feel belonging—to actually belong.  I’m homesick for all the women I’ve been before.  Homesick for all the selves who survived.  I know they are still with me, but it’s hard.   “Marisa, see a counselor”  “Marisa, please go get help”.  I know therapy is about fit.  I know it is a process.  That process has been a painful one for me, one with condescending and violating people under the title of “professional”.  “Marisa, please try anyway”.  I’m trying.  I am.  The fact that I am breathing, here, performing to every expectation like nothing is wrong is evidence of my efforts.  So good at smiling that (if I never mention it) you won’t notice the tsunamis inside me.

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