To my readers, please be aware that this is the darkest part of my MS story. I tried to keep the first two parts light like a dramedy. However, this part is more of a horror story. This is my story no matter how dark. “It is darkest before the dawn.”
In 2004 I had to stop working because of my MS. All of my friends had disappeared. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be seen in public. I kept the window blinds of my house closed never opening them for any reason. I would not check the mail until well after dark. My mailbox was just an arm’s reach out of my door. I also would not take out the trash until after dark. Using the garage door opener, I would open the door. The light would automatically come on for thirty seconds. This timed light meant that I had thirty seconds to take out the trash and get back into the house. When I had to take it to the curb, I would wait until very late at night.
I regularly played the song “I Wish it Would Rain” by the Temptations. There were several other songs, but that one had a much deeper meaning to me. I would go weeks without seeing another person. My walking had become extremely “wobbly.” I did not believe it until one day I noticed a dark gray line throughout my house. I realized that this dark line on my white walls was from my hands. As I walked through the house, I would use the walls to help stabilize myself. These actions are what we MSers call “wall-walking.”
I had been in this depression now for four years. At this point, I began to slide farther down this deep dark hole of sadness. I met a guy a long time ago who could get you anything that you requested. He is not the type of person to call or hang out with after work. This guy is someone from the dark underbelly of the city. I called him up and hesitated to say anything. He said: “What do you need, green?” “No,” I said, “I’ve never done drugs in my life.” After a brief silence, I said “something shiny and metal.” I could not even bring myself to say it. I could not believe this idea that was running through my head. “I’ve got just what you need. I’ll be over in a couple of hours,” he said.
When he showed up, he had a sports bag slung over his shoulder. He sat in my chair and put the bag on the floor. He pulled out a small handgun. “How many bullets do you want?” I thought to myself, one? “I don’t know?” I questioned. “Just one box is probably enough,” he said. We talked for a few minutes. He asked several questions. “So, where did you get this gun?” he asked. He did not want this gun to be able to be traced back to him. So I assured him that it could not be traced back to him. I explained that I made up the fact that I found the gun in my backyard while I was mowing. “That’s good,” He said. As he left, he said, “Let me know if you need anything else.” I thought to myself: how about we hang out for a bit? I longed for human interaction. I sat on the couch looking at this thing for a while. I put it on my lap and began to weep thinking of my plans.
I continually kept that “hunk of metal” on my mind. I would often go into the bedroom and look at it. I would regularly pick up the gun to make sure that it was loaded. Then one day I brought it out and set it on my lap. I kept hearing this voice in my head reminding me that I was alone. I sat there thinking about the best way to do this. Is it better in the mouth, the temple or under the chin? One minute I’m holding this thing up to my head with my finger on the trigger. The next minute I’m crying because I can’t do it. Life felt hopeless.
One day I got excited because my friend and his wife were coming to visit. Life is better with friends. I can make it. Friends make you stronger. I see them maybe once a year, but still, they are friends. When they arrived, we sat in the living room. He and I talked as his wife looked around. I could see the judgment on her face. She said, “You’re lucky. I would love not to have to work.” I kept quiet because I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to tell her that I would trade my situation for hers in a heartbeat. I needed to explain to her that you would not think that I was lucky if you understood that I rarely see friends or family. I wanted to say that it honestly hurts to be alone. However, I said nothing.
They stayed for about a half an hour before they left. Was I excited for this? This visit did not have the positive impact that I thought that it should. I thought that if I got to see friends if I got to see people, I would feel better, but I still hurt. This is not friendship. I felt like the walls were closing in. It felt like the air was thicker making it hard to breathe. I wanted it to stop. The pain was unbearable. Pressing the cold metal of this gun against my temple, I could end this hurt. I could eliminate the loneliness. Every time I thought I could do it, but no. I felt like a coward again. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Let me say this so that I can take a breather. I know that I am in a better situation. This story is still difficult to tell. I’m much stronger than I was back then. I read how talking about a tragic situation like this could be beneficial. It was told that writing this story down could be helpful to the writer as well as the reader. When I wrote this blog entry, there were plenty of stories that I just could not discuss. There is a stigma to depression. I did not want to tell my story because I did not want anyone to judge me. I did not want people to look at me like I was weak. However, a friend reminded me that some people are going to judge you no matter what. She explained that my story shows people that life is not all “kittens and rainbows.” I am glad that I am here to tell my story.
Although my depression lasted nearly ten years, the suicidal depression persisted for only seven years. These are just a few of my stories. I could not put them all in this three-page blog. All in all, I missed my 30s because of this feeling of deep sadness. Time seemed to drag on. During this dark time, I rarely saw doctors. A doctor visit seemed useless since I did not know how long that I would be on this Earth. Gradually the darkness began to lift enough for my mom to notice. She quickly got me connected with the Stephen Minister program at GCUMC. After nearly a year my Stephens Minister invited me to the church. People at the church welcomed me with hugs and handshakes. I felt the love and kindness that I had not felt in 10 years.
If you, who are reading this are going through darkness of your own, hold tight. I know that it is difficult, but search out a church or a social group. Find people who will welcome you and love you for who you are. Kindness, love, and friendship will fill all of those places in your heart that were hurting. I promise that you will find that. I have been where you are. Just hang on.
If you are lucky enough not to know what it is like to be surrounded by darkness, I am telling you that someone near you needs your support. They need it today. They need it desperately. Share your kindness. Talk with them, and get to know them. Trust me-compassion is all it takes to save a life.