Today, I lectured my classes on Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. So, naturally the question of suicide and depression reformulated itself in my head. Fair enough, my research and theoretical work as of recently has been turned towards moods and mood disorders. Probably will be for some time.
I cannot remember a time in my life in which I didn’t suffer from extreme anxiety or depressive moods. I cannot. This is who I am. Growing up, I had an internalized streak of anxiety that bent me towards staying absolutely within the confines of rules. The rules I was given were fundamental to life and I couldn’t waiver from them. There were times at a young age in which I scolded my mother for speaking to strangers, since I didn’t understand that those rules only applied to myself and my brother, not to her. Anxiety warped itself and demanded that I adhere to rules to the point that I made myself a pain upon others. I policed my brother’s play habits to ensure that legos did not mix with k’nex, and so on.
Anxiety and depression warped to the point where I spent much of my adolescence thinking about my death. My anxiety manifested in nausea when I was in middle school, to the point that I stayed home from school for two weeks. This time was in fear of who I was becoming, and fear that I would not become. I feared I would not live beyond high school. I feared that I would be the direct cause of this mortality.
Ten years ago, in the summer of 2005 at the age of 16, I considered suicide. Considered, never attempted. There is a strange internalized stigma here. Where other depressives and mental illness advocates narrate suicide attempts as a turning point, I never tried for anything. When talking with people who have attempted to kill themselves, I have an inadequate feeling. I experience impostor syndrome because I never acted.
I feel cowardly over not making what in retrospect would have been a cowardly move.
This is absurd.
I backed away from any attempt, but I spent 2005 obsessed with methods. I shook myself out of it. But still, I find myself inadequate and an impostor among others due to public romantic feelings that depression isn’t real unless one attempts to kill oneself, as if questioning it weren’t bad enough to warrant concern. This is internalized stigma.
I had, for what it’s worth, some spiritual experience that I’ll never make sense of again that prevented me from attempting. This experience happened twice. Once to shake off the notion that a necktie could support my body weight in July, the second on a long secluded ocean pier where I decided that drowning was too terrifying a concept.
I had forgotten that I had told my family and friends about the latter experience, chalking it up to some transcendental experience. I never told anyone in my family what that summer really meant. I instead twisted the narrative to something they could understand, something that ameliorated myself and warmed their hearts. I found hope, but I never divulged the depth at which I had fallen to find that hope, staring at stars and thinking over the direction of my life.
I don’t know what exactly broke the spell for me, but frankly rereading Camus after putting distance between myself and that summer allows for me to realize that it doesn’t matter. I’ve embraced the absurd and am holding out.