I write this because if you had told me 15 years ago, that despite my relentlessly debilitating depression and (on an infinitely lesser scale) the many peculiarties of my OCD, I would one day have a healthy marriage, two beautiful children, and a successful career, I would have thought you were mocking me. When I was a teenager and at rock-bottom, I could not see any direction my future could possibly take that would lead me out of my darkness. That would lead to here.
Darkness. Mental illness. Depression. Suicide.
It all sounds so dramatic. Over-exaggerated. Cliche. Straight out of a really shitty Lifetime movie. An enormous taboo to put out there into the world, so vulnerably and in a forum that is open to anyone to read and criticize and judge. And that is the reason that I feel so strongly that I need to share it.
Because battling depression in our society is so unjustly associated with failure, with weakness, and with shame.
Because as I write this post, I am feeling such discomfort about anyone actually reading this, even so very many years later, that my hands are shaking, making it difficult to type.
Because of mid-nineties me, hanging by a thread and drowning in the tidal-wave of a devastating chemical imbalance.
Mid-nineties me who needed any proof at all that it could possibly get better. That surviving was worth it.
During those years, I felt so undeserving of love. Too broken to ever punish a hypothetical child, years down the road, by becoming her parent. I want the young, the isolated, the empty, and the hopeless to know that it does get better. That it will. I promise it will. I wish I were creative and original enough to not rip-off the message of critical importance that is the lifeline happy and whole gay grown-ups extend to isolated and heartbroken gay youths, but I am not… and adolescents who suffer from mental illness and depression, as I did (and despite the very many blessings in my adult life, occasionally still do), need so urgently to hear this too.
I wish that in 1996, and again in 2002, when I bottomed-out… that I could have had access to stories similar to mine. Stories from utterly and hopelessly flawed – hopelessly flawed, but no longer hopeless – adults who endured the demons of self-hatred and suicide, and later started families, progressed professionally, and most importantly and seemingly impossibly, found joy.
“There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole, while learning to sing.”
It gets better. It is worth it. Life is worth it. You are worth it.
Would that I could reach through this computer screen and grab you by the shoulders and tell you this over and over and over again until you believed it. The way that I wish someone could have done for mid-nineties me.