Trigger Warnings for suicide ideation and description of those thoughts.
2015 was not a good mental health year for me.
Not at all.
It seemed like I had one major depressive episode after another, existing on a roller coaster that was all brief highs spaced out with huge long spirals of intense sadness and a general sense of unworthiness.
I was doing so much and not getting anything to show for it. My writing was going nowhere. My job was a literal dead end where was overworked by a man who didn’t think I deserved to be given a raise (despite giving a newer hire one). I felt displaced and like I was displacing my nieces who had one routine and then had to get used to another when I moved in.
The feelings that I didn’t belong and that I – and everything that I was doing – didn’t matter, kept plaguing me. There was a point where I was just passively hoping for death. I’d cry quietly on the bus every morning because I couldn’t believe that I had gone through college and got 2 degrees in order to struggle to barely make $200 a week. When we got into near misses on the bus, I’d be torn between relief that we didn’t die and anger that the decision wasn’t taken out of my hands.
One of the things I spent all of 2015 struggling with was my depression and the desire to kill myself.
At some points, things were so bad and I was so incapable of seeing any light in the darkness that I would find myself preparing. I started to make a will. I wrote down my social media passwords so that you all would know. I started trying to figure out where I could do it and what I would leave behind. I wanted to come to terms with what I, at several serious points, simply knew that I was going to do. I started looking at potentially painless ways to end it all because I wanted to die, I didn’t want to hurt.
That would kind of defeat the purpose, you know?
So I had struggled with this all year. I’d been writing tweets on a locked account that only my friend Sasha has access to. I wanted to die. In fact, I wanted it so badly that I knew that I would die by my own hand.
I spent a lot of 2015 wishing I was dead because obviously, I wasn’t doing enough to get where I needed to be. I saw myself as using space and taking attention that I didn’t deserve. I strongly felt (and still do feel sometimes) as if I didn’t matter, not even to my own family. Most of my friends didn’t seem to understand (or so said my borked brain) and I felt like I was a useless burden to my family for a number of reasons.
I kept getting knocked down.
Job rejection after job rejection. The initial grad school rejection. Friendships ending without me expecting it. Nothing I was doing was going well so it had to have been me. I was the one in the wrong. I was wasting my time.
The only person I was living for was my niece T. Every time I thought about overdosing or walking into traffic or diving into a canal on my way home, I had to stop. Because she’s nine and she wouldn’t understand that I just couldn’t keep living. She knows about my depression and my anxiety, but she didn’t know about this.
And I didn’t know how to handle it.
Of course, because I’m suffering from depression, my permanent thought wasn’t “I need to find a way to get help” (because at the end of 2015, I had no money or resources to get mental health help), it was to find a way to let her know that at some point soon, I would probably be gone and that no matter what I would love her. Because that’s where my brain has been for much of the year.
Here’s where Superman came in. (I know, I’ve buried the lede but just trust me, there’s a point here.)
T and I shared a room. We basically lived in each other’s armpits which was weird because for much of 2015, my best friend wound up being my 9 year old niece, but also very helpful. One day, when I was cleaning up my half of the room, she came over and saw my Golden Age of DC Comics book. It’s this huge volume by Paul Levitz and it covers a good fifteen years of early comic book history.
There’s also, obviously, a huge focus on Superman.
T demanded that we sit down and go through the book because we’re both serial procrastinators. She wanted an anecdote or explanation for every page. She had questions and thoughts and so we passed about an hour of a half just going over the book and the early comic books.
And then, we hit George Reeves. George Reeves was the first actor to bring Superman and Clark Kent to life on the silver screen. He died in his forties due to a gunshot wound that was deemed a suicide by the police and many others (including myself).
Of course, T asked how he died when I was finished talking and I don’t like to lie to the kid. So I told her about depression and what it makes you do and how sometimes, you can’t get enough help in time to make a difference. And she got up, this little imp of a kid, and just hugged me. She hugged me tight and asked me not to kill myself.
No one else has ever actually asked that of me.
I broke down. Of course I did. Here’s a child who I love with every fiber of my being, the one person who I am actually living for in my day to day life, and she’s asking me not to kill myself. She looked at me with this look and I just broke because if we hadn’t been talking about Superman, if George Reeves hadn’t had a section of that book for himself, I wouldn’t have heard those words.
Two of the most important moments in Superman’s chronology aren’t moment where he’s fighting villains, saving the day, or sweeping Lois Lane off of her feet. No. They’re moments where he’s there for young women who are about to kill themselves.
And I can’t help but feel that T exemplified that for me, just a little. Superman didn’t talk me down, but the most important person in my world did because of an actor that played him decades before I was even a thought in my mother’s head.
I’m still struggling. I’m still living an unhealthy life where I drink a bit more than I should and I don’t talk about my mental health issues because I’m scared that someone won’t hire me because them. I’m still not doing so well sometimes.
But I’m trying to get help and do better because of T and because I can’t keep existing like this, living in a dense fog of suicide ideation that I’m too scared to verbalize because I want to seem “normal”.
So I’m going to keep trying to get my brain under control. When I first wrote this, I wasn’t getting any help for my mental health issues. Now I am.
And maybe I’ll get my brain under control one day.
I hope so. I hope I’m around to watch T grow up and succeed.