Edit: I wrote this in the darkness, hit publish, and went to bed. When I woke up three hours later I regretted hitting the publish button – thinking this would be too alarming for friends and family, or that it would come across as attention-seeking, overly dramatic, or just plain ridiculous. Apparently though, those who did have the chance to view this in those three hours didn’t feel that way. I’ve gotten a number of emails that this meant something to some people. If I can shine a light in the dark to anyone, then I need to do that. I owe that to others who face similar demons and might possibly benefit from this.
Perhaps you’ve never known anyone who has suffered from mental illness before. Perhaps you were never close with them. We have become close in recent years. All the same, I’m not sure you understand who I am at my worst.
At my worst, I am sad. But I am also more than sad: I am hopeless. This might seem like semantics — meaningless words, I promise you to me, it is more than that. When I say I am hopeless what I mean is that I live every day of my life with a low grade desire to die. Am I suicidal every day of my life? No. Not really. I don’t have a plan. I have no desire to readily accomplish hurting myself. Would I be upset if a truck hit me or lightning struck me? No. This is not a normal sentiment, yet it is what I live with. All day, every day. I’m not living the dream.
At my worst I tear up in my office. By the time I reach the point of tears, especially tears I show you friend, it’s too late. At my worst I tell you how lonely I am, but it feels like whining. Most days I smile and do my job as effectively as I can. I go to court, flatter opposing counsel, charm court staff, return to my office – close the door and cry a little.
These feelings verbalized, terrify most people. I don’t verbalize them very often – even to myself. I understand that they may terrify you as well. Stick with me, please.
I don’t have cancer, I don’t have diabetes. I wish I did. These diseases are understood, accepted, embraced by doctors – by citizens. No one tells a cancer patient to suck it up, get out of bed, and go to work. No one tells the diabetic they should be ashamed for taking insulin.
I’m okay. I’ll continue to be okay. But it’s a struggle for me. It’s the same struggle that millions of others live with every day. I know I’m not alone. And neither are you.