What do you say when someone asks you how you are?
I always respond with “I’m fine”. Every time. The truth – the god awful fucking truth – is that I am not fine. The truth is that this morning I was thinking about killing myself. But who wants to hear that? And, indeed, who wants to put that out into the world? Who wants to be viewed as a time bomb? A liability? A misery? It’s easier to lie, to perpetuate the myth that I am doing okay. But there are times when I wonder, how long? How long can I keep pretending? How long can I hold back the river? And what happens when I can’t anymore? Where will I end up when I inevitably lose the will to keep up the facade?
Whenever I think that I might finally have reached breaking point, the guilt rushes in. The guilt of being healthy, of being loved, of having so much in my life that I should be – and *am* – grateful for and still feeling this way. Still wanting to hold my hands up and say, “That’s it; I’m done.” Often I entertain the idea that I would feel less guilty if I could donate my life to somebody else. To a mother battling terminal cancer, or a child with an incurable illness or just anyone who needs, wants and deserves this life more than I do.
Would I feel less guilty?
The short answer, I have found, is no. It resides in the three other people I share my home with who, for reasons I cannot fathom, would prefer for me to be here and sad than not be here at all.
In a post I wrote some time ago, I promised myself that I would not let this thing take me when I next found myself staring into the abyss. But it’s easy to make promises when you’re not trembling and alone on that cliff edge. It’s easy to say that you will find the will and the strength when you are not transfixed by that gaping maw. It is less so when you are already there, with the ocean churning below you and the wind howling around you. When everything is noise and vivid, searing colour and absolutely nothing makes any kind of sense.
I know that I will have to get out of bed tomorrow and plaster my coping face over whatever anxiety and terror I wake up with. I know that I will have to drag myself into the shower, dress, create some visage of normality on my face, take care of my children and ensure that they get where they need to go and then go to work myself. I know that there is no other option. But sometimes I am so tired of pretending. I am so exhausted by just trying to cope and focus and be useful and functional from one minute to the next.
Right now, it is just too much.
But what’s the alternative? What does that look like? Sick notes? Pills? Lying in my bed, catatonic with the creeping sadness while panic claws its way up my throat?
And just like that, I am lost in the endless “what if” scenarios.
I conclude, more often than not, that I am just not cut out for this. That I am flat out fucked and I will never be anything else. That there is absolutely no point in trying to be or do anything more constructive with my life because I will always, always be in the shadow of this oppressive, malignant cloud.
I have no positive parting words to end this post with. I have no message of hope. I can only say that I will try again tomorrow, because what other choice do I have?