The Weight of Misery
I'd always felt like a problem.
I'd always felt like a burden.
I'd always felt that the weight of my misery was my own cross to bear and that by heaving it onto my own shoulders and dragging the weight along alone, I'd spared others the tumult of my existence. In my silent toiling and my quiet seething, I felt that I'd allowed those around me to keep their hands clean while the filth of my existence tarnished me alone.
You see, I always wanted to die.
I'm not overstating matters when I say that I would cry myself to sleep at night, enraged at my own cumbersome inability to end my life. As tears flowed from my eyes, everything inside me screamed out with the ferocity of fists banging and clawing at the confines of walls built too high to escape. I hated myself for my inability to take my own life, and the tininess of the me that existed inside the confines of my own depression cried out for release.
While pain and misery ricocheted around inside of me like a tiny .22 caliber bullet - not quite powerful enough to create an exit wound, but potent enough to wreak havoc and pain - I kept my lips sealed and all of the hurt on the inside. I selfishly guarded my pain. Like Gollum, I hid it away from the world and let it shape me into monstrousness.
I believed that I had a very clear ending. I believed I was just working up the courage. I believed I was just biding my time.
I believed that, if I said anything, I would be hanging the weight of my misery on someone else. I believed, because there was nothing to be done about who and what I was, inviting others into the folds of my sorrow, would be akin to forcing them to be conspirators in my own murder. I believed that, when the time came and all the chips had fallen where they may, everyone would be tarred and feathered with the guilt of my leaving.
Worse, I feared the alternative. I feared they would be glad and their reactions would be little more than an anecdotal sigh as they were tasked with cleaning up my mess.
The world, as I perceived it, was one in which I didn't belong. I believed myself to be 'the worst' and therefore undeserving of all the things that make up the paradigm of the human experience. I was seperate from love. I was seperate from joy. I was seperate from companionship and friendship. I was the worst.
I don't say any of this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I don't feel sorry for me and the last thing I want is pity.
I say all of this because I want to make something clear. I was depressed and I hid it.
I didn't tell anyone what I was going through. I didn't reach out.
We'd have people come to our school to give talks about suicide prevention and these talks would inevitably spiral into merry and joyful speeches detailing our inherent goodness and worthwhile-ness, yet all of that felt like it was true of everyone but me. So I stayed silent.
The thing I have learned, only through age and experience, is that a lot of people feel exactly like that. A lot of people feel that there is nothing to be done to alter their course as they head toward self-annihilation. A lot of people feel that reaching out makes others complicit in their inevitable demise. A lot of people believe they are the pinnacle of worstness and are seperate from all of the virtues and gifts of life.
Most importantly, a lot of people won't speak up.
So what should we do? How do we keep from losing these people who are quietly toiling away and smouldering in self-loathing? We seek them out.
You won't know them at first. There is no telltale signs to look out for.
Instead, adopt a policy of compassion in dealing with everyone. I can guarantee one of these silent seethers will be in your friend group or social circle. Don't wait for them to reach out. Reach out to all of your friends and, in the process, you will reach out to those who are hurting. Make a habit of asking everyone how they are. More important than asking, however, take the time to listen.
Don't take 'fine' at face value. Give people your full attention and dig deeper than 'fine'. In your excavations, you might find joy, or you might find sorrow. Either way, it's important you keep digging.
A MESSAGE FROM THE ESSENTIAL LIFE
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - BRITTEN THOMPSON
Who is Britten? She's a reticent little beast born in the wilds of Northern Alberta to a foul-mouthed, French-Canadian father & an angry, stiff-upper-lipped mother. Britten is, almost always, wild-haired & poorly dressed. She recently left the beautiful & untamed chill of Canada for the blistering & somewhat oppressive heat of Australia. Her list of pastimes is short & includes reading, writing, petting cats, overeating & alphabetizing things. She's a fan of Windex on Facebook because who doesn't want a streak free shine? She dreams of one day writing a super-awesome novel that affords her & her partner a comfortable lifestyle, a large property, a few horses & the means with which to foster children in need...or just becoming a red panda.
When Britten isn't writing, reading, or organizing things in her home, she can be found cuddling with her boyfriend, arguing about why Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the history of ever, browsing Gumtree for a future cat or kitten, or contemplating days gone by, the passage of time & how ridiculous it is that humans have yet to evolve enough to grow a third set of teeth.