I Promise I’m Safe: Building Trust Following a Severe Major Depressive Episode

My friend told me I have a suicidal face. In essence. I told her that sounds as if my face is going to commit suicide, and she said I knew what she meant and then she looked very serious and sad for a moment. She said she has been thinking this a long time, but did not specify what a long time was: that there was something very wrong with me and she was frightened. I didn’t ask. In retrospect, I would have asked.

bridge with holes

Sometimes depression can make us feel less than whole, as if we are constantly navigating a perilous terrain. Even during times of remission, there are those who saw us at our lowest, are are reticent to believe we are safe again. Respectively, patience and honesty are components of the vital communication required to build back that trust.

The winds have been strong. Ripping the blue tiki umbrella out of its stand, poorly fastened to the table on my yard, and flinging it far away, and that reminds me of summer, and how I wear sweaters now, and the same friend said I should always wear long sleeves to cover my scars. Another said he was “alarmed.” They’d all had nice, long conversations about it, my mental state, never once involving me.

I don’t know how all these people got so scared when I know myself, and I am not a liar, and I already told them.

People generally don’t believe that you’re safe if you haven’t been safe before. It’s frustrating, as I feel I have the right to self identify, assess, and tell the truth now. But I understand what they are really expressing is fear. I love you.

I love you too. It matters. Please believe that much is true.

Trust is serious. And the truth is, I fucked around with it too much.

And by “I,” I absolutely mean the manifestation of an exceedingly painfully and unbelievably long major depressive episode, bouncing from remission to something approaching recovery to depression again, but not the class, this time and hopefully for a long time—because only fools say forever—that necessitates acute hospitalization.

Listen. I know what I’m doing.

If this is what it feels like for you, just remember, that I am like yeah. I know!

Most decisions I make appear to be viewed as overly suspect, and then I am viewed as paranoid if I something suspect even if it is legitimately suspect. Welcome to what it’s like to live your life with others knowing you have a relatively severe but also mostly under control mental illness. even if—especially if—they regard me. No matter how much thought I put into them. Whether at work (where I feel I am oft treated like an irresponsible child, while others who have been in periods of uncertainty vis-a-vis health problems and other personal issues were never treated with such seemingly well-intentioned but ultimately punitive derision), or with friends who do not reach out to me unless I first extend the hand, sometimes left to dangle in perpetuity. The continual and utterly exhausting arguments with the insurance company, furthering my own “economic downturn,” to use popular governmental phrasing, coupled with the fear of what will become of me if I cannot get into the hospital program I need (and fast; i.e., how soon is yesterday?) has heightened my depression to a level I experienced only prior to attempting to take my own life—or something like that—eight years ago.

I’m not going into the whole thing.

I’ve learned my lesson.

But in truth, I am often frightened I am only still here because I am fighting for other people who I know I would irrevocably hurt; that it would be greatly deleterious to my few true allies that remain, a constantly dwindling number, and most of all my parents and brother. I scratch out a little piece for myself; thinning and frayed but a thread is attached nonetheless. And what’s scary is I know I could do it; that I stand at the precipice of a cliff, having gotten here through trickery, through a too-fast and confusing chase; like an impala, unable to swim, standing before a boundless lake, deciding whether to jump in or be slowly and painfully devoured by the jaws of the animal by which is has always, always been hunted. Illustrated another way, it feels as if the ship has sailed away and I am in the midst of the infinite blue, everywhere a horizon that leads to yet another horizon, ad infinitum, and thus it is pointless to even attempt to cross over.

It is sometimes very hard, with this chronic illness, to see the point of continuing to live an existence, if one can even call this such, which is exponentially more demoralizing by the day and full of a bone-deep misery in myriad ways; one where I have not and likely won’t arrive at places I had once fool-heartedly dreamed of, and even believed; where I am continually viewed as either a burden or a cause for concern, and scarcely as a bringer of light or illumination—and certainly, it feels, never, ever just as me.

And the truth is I am not staying around for others only. I know, without a doubt, that a hope remains with me, and I am living this life because I want to. Because I know (though the depression sometimes may not, but I know it better than it knows me; which took 15 years) that it is worth the fight because life can be beautiful.

And I’m a survivor.

I bet you are too.