I had no idea that, along with my MS diagnosis, I would lose everything I held dear. In 2004 I started losing my mobility and my eyesight, which caused me to lose a job that was important to me, and I loved. I also lost my ability to drive, eliminating my independence, making my life even more isolative. To add insult to injury, all my friends vanished, solidifying my feelings of loneliness.
In 2004 I had to stop working because of my MS and the debilitating effects of its symptoms. Over the next month, all my friends erased themselves from my life, teaching me the true definition of abandonment. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be seen in public, so I kept all my window blinds closed. I would not check the mail or take the trash to the curb until well after dark, trying to remove myself from the public eye. I would go weeks without interacting with another human being. My walking had become extraordinarily shaky, so I used the walls to stabilize me as I walked around the house.
I had been in this depression for several years, and I began to slide further and further down this deep dark hole of sadness. I met a guy a long time ago who could get you anything, although he is not the type of person to hang out after work. Jeff is an individual from the dark underbelly of the city, someone no one should know. I called him up and hesitated to say anything. He asked, what do you need, green? No, I said. I have never done drugs in my life, I thought. After a slight pause, I said something shiny and metal. I could not even bring myself to say the word, and I could not believe this idea that was running through my head. I have just what you need. I will be over in a couple of hours, he told me.
When Jeff showed up, he had a sports bag slung over his shoulder. He pulled out a small handgun and asked how many bullets I wanted. I thought to myself, one? I don’t know, I questioned. Just one box is probably enough for now, He said. We talked for a few minutes while he asked me several questions as he did not want this gun to be traced back to him. I assured him it could not be traced back to him, and I explained 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, but he was not willing to provide that…just this instrument of destruction.
I sat on the couch, looking at this hunk of metal for a while. I was thinking about the best way to do this, is it better in the mouth, the temple, or the chin? I put it on my lap, and tears began to fall down my face as I thought about my plans. Later, I brought it back out and set it on my lap as I kept hearing this voice inside my head, telling me nobody cares. One minute I am holding this thing up to my head with my finger on the trigger the next minute I was crying because life simply felt hopeless. I cannot do it as the voices in my head continually whispered the word failure, and no one will miss you, so just do it. I said a silent prayer to a silent master, and all I received was a silent response, and I felt even more alone.
One day I got excited because my friend and his wife were coming to visit. Life is better with friends. When they arrived, we sat in the living room, Bob and I talked, and Lisa, his wife, looked around. I could see the judgment on her face when Lisa said, you are lucky I would love not to have to work and get paid. I kept quiet because I did not know what to say. I wanted to tell her I would trade my situation for hers in a heartbeat. I needed to explain you would not think I was lucky if you understood how lonely I am. I wanted to say it honestly hurts to be alone, my chest aches from it. However, I said nothing, and once again, the voices whispered nobody likes you, loser, pull the trigger, it will fix everything.
They stayed for about a half an hour before they left. Was I excited about this? This visit did not have the positive impact I thought it would. I thought if I got to see friends, I would feel better if I got to see people, but the pain was still there. It felt like the walls were closing in, and the air was getting thicker, making it hard to breathe. I wanted the voices to stop and the unbearable pain to end. Why does nobody care? Pressing the gun’s cold metal against my head, I could end this hurt to eliminate the loneliness. Every time I thought I could do it, but I could not. The voices told me like a repeating record: you are a coward and failure, and I cried myself to sleep.
I will stop this story here as it is still difficult to talk about, although I am now much stronger than I was back then. I read how talking about a tragic time in life like this and writing it down could help the writer and readers alike. There is a stigma to depression, so I did not want to tell my story. I did not want anyone to judge me, and I did not want people to look at me like I was weak. However, a friend reminded me how some people are going to judge you no matter what. She explained that my story shows people’s lives are not all sunshine and rainbows, and they are not alone. I am glad I am here to tell my story.
Although my depression lasted nearly ten years, the suicidal depression persisted less time. These are just a few of my stories, as I could not put them all in this blog. All in all, I missed my entire 30s because of this feeling of deep sadness. During this dark time, I rarely saw doctors as a doctor visit seemed useless since I did not know how long I would be on this Earth.
Gradually the darkness began to lift enough for my mom to notice, and she quickly got me connected with the Stephen Minister program at Grove City Methodist Church. After nearly a year of visiting with me weekly, my Stephens Minister invited me to the church. People at the church welcomed me with hugs and handshakes, and I felt the love and kindness I had not felt in over a decade.
If you, who are reading this are going through darkness of your own, hold tight. I know it is difficult, but search out a church or a social group and find people who will welcome you and love you for who you are. Kindness, love, and friendship will fill all those places in your heart that are hurting. I promise you will find it; 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 tell you someone near you needs your support, love, and acceptance. They need it today, and they need it desperately, so share your kindness, talk with them, and get to know them. Trust me-compassion is all it takes to save a life.
Read my next blog to find out how I guarantee I will stay sane in our insane world.