I want to live
That was a startling realization I had a few weeks ago. I want to live. I’ve spent the majority of the last 14 years battling bipolar depression. It is exhausting and demoralizing. There were ups and downs, but a few years in I realized that even during the “ups”, the idea of death was still a welcome one.
No matter how much better things got, I always knew there were more dark days ahead of me. The battle of fighting to stay alive when I really had no desire to do so has a way of crushing one’s spirit and annihilating all traces of hope. That is not a feeling easily forgotten–no matter how bright the current day is.
A Disturbing Dream
I remember having a very vivid dream during one of the “good times”, in which I pointed a gun at my head and pulled the trigger. The feeling of relief at finally knowing the fight for my life was over was profound. The feeling of despair as I realized that the gun had misfired was equally profound. And then I woke up. I couldn’t shake the feelings and implications of that dream for months.
But I resigned myself to living this way. Enduring the awful times, enjoying the good times, but always always secretly wishing that something–even something painful, violent, or horrific–would take my life. No matter how awful the cause, I felt that the end result of my death would be worth it.
Waking Up From the Nightmare
Over the past few months I’ve felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle waking up from a very long sleep. My confidence in myself has begun to return. I even like myself most of the time. My interest in former joys is renewing as well. I’ve found myself playing pranks on family and friends again. I always loved being a prankster, until my love of laughing and playing was squashed by the weight of depression. I enjoy my children to an extent I’ve never known before.
A New Hope
I was driving home a few weeks ago, singing along with the radio at the top of my lungs when it hit me–I want to live. I love my life, dark parts and all. The joy finally outweighs the devastation.
I thought it was a milestone when I determined that growing old was even a possibility for me–when I decided this might not be a terminal illness in my case. But now, I’m looking forward to growing old. And to the days in between. I feel optimistic, hopeful, and even excited at what lies ahead for me. The heartache and the joy. And still believing that the best is yet to come.
That implies a hope I never thought possible for me. But it is possible. And it’s possible for you, too. If you’re currently living in a nightmare, please, keep holding on, keep moving. I know it hurts, you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it feels impossibly hard, but your life matters and things will get better.