**TW: Please note that the post below is written as part of World Suicide Prevention Day and discusses anxiety, depression, suicide.**
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Hey readers. It’s been a while.
Since my last post, I’ve roadtripped from California to New York. I’ve climbed cinder cones, and made the sort of friends who are really family, who are cousins, who are with. I’ve walked the entire length of Central Park. I’ve had coffee and an amazing chat with the author who is the reason I got into writing in the first place. I’ve seen the reading room of the Library of Congress. I’ve stood barefoot in the wet grass of the yard behind the house I grew up in and watched fireflies and bats swing through the muggy July air. I’ve sat in the living room of the same house and had a take-out Chinese food with my mother and grandmother.
I packed up the space that had become home in Los Angeles, put it into boxes, put it into donation slots, put it into thrift shop stock and put the few dollars I was given back into my wallet to take with me, spending-cash funds to carry an ocean away.
I said goodbye. I hugged. I cried. I kissed.
And now I am in Scotland, typing away at this blog post from a room overlooking a garden that Mary Lennox would have loved, with hills built of ancient myths and wild green rising in the distance. I’ve all but finished my first term of veterinary school. A week of revision, a week of exams to go.
Readers, this is it. This is what I’ve fought for.
This, just shy of three years ago, is what I decided was what I wanted to stick around for. Because once I got here, so much of the malformation of my life that had come from forgetting myself for so damn long would start to remedy. I’d had the years already of figuring that out. I knew who I wanted to be. I knew what I wanted to do with myself. And I knew that here, vet school, this was the tool I needed for it.
So I would get myself here.
And that would not be the end of things. That would not be happily ever after. That would not be the close of all my trials and tribulations. That would not finish my fight.
But it would change it.
End of volume one, start of volume two.
Today is world suicide prevention day, hence why I’ve temporarily crawled out of my study paper-plastered woodwork to write something. Because today, the idea behind it, is important.
Because today, there will be so many stories popping up across the internet of people who have fought and stayed and found some kind of lasting better, telling you that see, isn’t this worth it? Didn’t it get better? Isn’t it great, this victory?
But depression is a bastard creature, and I know that that is not always how it works.
Readers, I have fought. I figured out what I wanted, and I decided that I was going to stick around and goddamn get it. I’ve had marvelous adventures along the way. I’ve also had days that were utter shit. Days where my brain told me I am worthless, and I for all intents and purposes believed it. Days where I did nothing but cry. Days where I just did nothing, because that’s all of me there was for the time. In with the days of open road and laughing with friends and making grand, glorious plans were also days where I drowned in a sea of misfiring neurons, sad or numb or anxious and trembling like a leaf in a hurricane. Some days, the storm roared in my ears. Some days, I roared back. Some days, I was quiet.
But every day, I stayed. Every day, no matter how it felt, I kept moving forward. Because when depression sat me down and asked harder than it had in a while okay, kid, what’s it going to be, I mulled over my choices and decided that even if every moment of getting here hurt, I was going to keep fighting to get where I am now. I decided that I was not going to back down. I was not going to give up.
The goal was not necessarily to be happy. The goal was to be me, even in the face of a mental illness that would try its damned hardest to tear every bit of that concept apart.
I knew that if I could get into veterinary school, that would give me enough of an anchor, enough of a leverage point to make it the rest of the way. There is strategy to battle, after all.
I also knew that even though being here, in veterinary school, in Scotland, was effectively “winning,” the war isn’t actually over yet.
That’s not how depression works. At least, not for everyone. Not for me.
There are still sad hours and days. There are still moments of the world crashing like an earthquake in my ears. There are still times when an entire lifetime comes whispering like a dark cave in the back of my mind. But I’ve done my training. I know how to take the hits. I know how to compensate, how to work around, how to hold up the wounded bits while they seal up. I know how to last till the next time my brain agrees to a ceasefire.
But in the end, this is a war that I did not sign up to fight. This was forced conscription. And I know there are others, too. Others who will not last the time between ceasefires, on their own battlefields. Because they did not know how. Or because they did, but not want to.
They are the most difficult to talk about.
Because I will not say that they lost. Because I have been there for fights that lasted, and lasted, and lasted, that were fought with tooth and nail and every last inch of soul that could be mustered, but which, despite it all, did not improve. I have been there for the fights that have gone on, but have not gotten better.
Recovery, as it turns out, is not a meritocracy.
I made the decision that even if all I ever got was living with depression, at least I was still living. And that was going to be enough.
For some people, that is not enough.
And today, on world suicide prevention day, those are the people I am writing for. Because I can offer you nothing better than my anger that the world cannot yet guarantee that a decision to live is synonymous with life actually feeling worth it. Because it is not fair, that fighting the thing that hurts us does not always result in us hurting any less. Because I want to be able to tell you that staying means it will get better, but all I can tell you with certainty is that when it comes to sticking around and all this shit getting better, the word is could.
It is such a small word.
It can be powerful, though.
Dumb luck. Blind possibility. Stupid forces, but sometimes, so many times, they are what better is made out of.
Stochasticity is a shit deity. But it can also be a surprisingly useful one.
I want to be able to give you a definite answer. I want to be able to tell you, for sure, that yes, this will all change. That yes, if you stay, it will be worth it. That yes, you will stop hurting this way. That yes, it will get better.
It will get different. You might like the different. You might not.
But at the very least, there’s potential.
Which, even outside of depression, is all we humans really ever get. Even those not fighting this war aren’t guaranteed that they’re going to like the way things turn out at the end, or at any point in the meantime.
Potential. That is what there is. That is what we are. That is what, no matter what, will not change.
Potential means that sometimes the pendulum of probability pushes me so I am slumped against a closed bedroom door, crying angrily over a mind of spilt serotonin. Potential also means that sometimes I am sitting here, at my desk, looking out at the hills of Scotland, a place that a year ago I didn’t know I’d be. There’s a coffee shop down the road with good roasts and decent people. There’s a park behind my flat with dogs that run up and say hello. There are ducks and a flower-fenced pond beneath my window. There’s depression nestled between my neurons, but dreams live in the synapses, too.
Sometimes, I am happy. Sometimes can last a while, these days.
There is pain. There is potential. There’s tomorrow.
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