By Jasmin Chahal
Six years ago my depression started. I was 18 years old and no one to talk to or turn to. I would cry myself to sleep and force a smile when I saw everyone in the morning.
At the start of my depression, I barely got out of bed and wasn’t able to do the simplest of tasks. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or go out. I would be asked why not and saying “I’m busy” just didn’t work anymore. I lost 15 pounds in a month. Every time I ate, I got stress ulcers. I didn’t sleep. I thought all night:
You’re worthless…just another mouth to feed. You know it’s true. You cause nothing but trouble, stress, and pain to everyone around you. Life is better without you.
You deserve nothing. You don’t deserve to be happy.
Write a note explaining your suicide. Everyone needs to know that you did them a favor.
So I wrote a number of suicide notes. I even texted friends goodbye messages at 3 A.M. I even went to the kitchen in the middle of the night and grabbed the sharpest knife. I cried. I held it toward my stomach. But then I stopped.
“What will happen to everyone? How will everyone react? What will people say?”
That was my last suicide attempt. I’ve realized that deep down buried under all the negativity there was optimism. Not a lot but it was enough to keep me going.
So I distracted myself. I tried to overwork, meet friends, did more activities. But when I got home, I was alone, alone with my thoughts. I did everything to try to run away from the feeling of worthlessness. How do I keep going without letting anyone know that I’m not happy, that I feel like it’s not worth living? How do I tell people what I’m going through without having them tell me it’s a phase or I’m crazy or that it’s just a grudge and I’ll get over it? I hate myself. Every day I wake up feeling absolutely hopeless and I don’t know what to do.
Years later, I finished my bachelor’s degree and went to grad school. Going into university with depression made everything so much harder. Not only did I not want to study, I didn’t want to get out of bed to go to class. Not because I was tired but because I had no motivation. But I had a responsibility to get my degree because no one knew what was going on. To them, I was perfectly capable of being a full-time student.
I felt like I was living a double life. Everyone told me that I was “always so happy.” That’s good; it means I can hide it well and I’m fooling everyone. Is it a good thing, though? I’m dying inside and everyone thinks I’m fine.
There are times when I dream about my funeral. How will it be? Who will be there? Will people say something nice? Maybe when I die, it’ll make lives easier and lighter.
I would keep everything to myself: my thoughts, ideas, weakness, depression, anxiety. I had made a persona and I was the one people would talk to when they were having issues. They never would they think I was going through the same thing.
I decided to share. I told a few close friends and family.
“You’re just mad.”
“Just get over it.”
“How did it happen? What caused it?”
“But you have everything.”
“Did you try meditation?”
“It’s all in your head.”
“So what are you? Crazy?”
I did not hope to receive these reactions. This was what I was afraid of—no one understanding, hearing things I didn’t want to hear. Depression got worse and my will to talk to anyone about it diminished. If anyone asked me how I was, my answer was “fine” and it still is. I needed help and I didn’t know what to do.
Every day was a constant battle. I would have episodes but didn’t know how to explain them to anyone. People would get mad at me for being quiet, moody, or not wanting to hang out with them. It was always my fault and that hurt me more.
Maybe I am crazy and this IS entirely my fault. Why can’t I be happy like everyone else? What’s wrong with me?
Voices in my head continued:
“Jump off the roof. If you jump off the side facing the football field, no one will know. Life will be peaceful without you.”
“You have chemicals all around you. There is no one left in the lab. Just ingest any of them and get rid of this pain once and for all. Do it. It’s really that easy.”
Sleepless nights and lonely days—this was not my definition of living. Then why did I continue? Why didn’t I kill myself when I had the chance? Something stopped me and I kept going, but why?
There was a reason and I knew I wanted to live—I just needed guidance.
So I got it. I got guidance. I’m still getting it. As strong as I think I am, I’m not that strong alone. I was denied support before, so I got it elsewhere. Past the pessimistic thoughts, there was optimism and it was powerful enough to be heard. I accepted professional help and it’s odd to admit how refreshing it is to hear other voices instead of your own.