A Lust For Life

When they found me that night, I had this note. I have rewritten it now, for you

“Thanks for tonight,” he said, “You look really well”.
I blushed.
“I mean it. You are doing really well.” he repeated.
“Thank you,” I said, knowing that thank you would never quite cover it, “It was a great gig!”
He smiled.
“Well, I’d better be getting on.” I said.
He kissed me on the cheek.
I blushed my goodbye.
I turned then and walked through the sliding door, into the hospital, where the night nurse was waiting for me.
“Well, at least I didn’t have to shave my legs eh?”
The nurse smiled by return. You aren’t allowed razors in the early days, of course.

My boyfriend and I had just been to a gig in the O2 that night. It was his birthday and I had been granted a few hours leave after a few months in the hospital. Before those months, I had disappeared from his life, disappeared from everyone’s life, having run away to kill myself. It had started out with depression and then I leaned on alcohol to cope. Yes, there was some pretty traumatic events that propelled me into depression but none of that mattered in the moment the doors clinked behind me on the first day I entered the intensive care ward of a mental services hospital.

I was where I was.

Neither did it matter that, on balance, I had had so many good times previous. I had been to Glastonbury, Electric Picnic annually. I had done fine in college. I was blessed with a really lovely family, a safe, playful childhood, the finest friends and a boyfriend who once gifted me a hand crafted hat (made with his hands, if you don’t mind) that had a light bulb sticking out the top of it. “For the girl with the great ideas”, the card had read… illness doesn’t need a justification, right?

When my family found me that night, just in time, I had this note on me. I have rewritten it in parts for you.

Dear Reader,

There is a desperate need to escape this endless feeling of being in orbit of nothing. There are no landmarks against which you can orientate yourself and outside, your world is mercilessly pressing in on your paper thin life. Your soul is too redundant to warrant your own existence. It’s in questioning your ability to continue that the real danger creeps slowly in. The thought becomes a friend. Your reliable out.

That thought sounds punishing to everyone else. It sounds like a selfish and indulgent distance that you would consider torturing everyone with. That reasoning, though, is for the rational mind. Here in this darkness, it’s not like that at all. It’s not that you want to be without your family, it is not that you want to say goodbye, you do not want to hurt or haunt them with this – your life unfinished. The idea of my parents, sitting in their kitchen, the clock ticking in the background to their pain, that tick tock being the only thing you can hear over their screaming silence, is to the forefront of my mind. But that won’t be forever you think. It would be better than putting them through the constant agony of your existence.

You know that you are worrying them now. You are drawing on them now. You know they would never see you as a burden. You know that they would do anything for you but still….

I’m sorry.

It is not that you cannot go on. It is that you can not go on like this.

I cannot go on like this. With this. A horrid blackness occupying every dull pulsing cell of my being. It is too much. I find hope in the idea of suicide. A cessation of it all. The idea of death is a spring of relief, spun into the gnarly ball of wire of my mind.

That is the bone chilling confusion that comes with depression.

It is a kind of grief really: the traumatic detachment from life, grieving for a time before this, carrying a weight of pain, trying to swim against what feels like a cruel tide of nothingness. Relentless discomfort in your own skin.

You watch light after light of interest in the things you used to love go out.

We adjust quickly you see. You adjust to your dipping mood again and again until one day you realise you are watching your colleagues getting excited about plans, excited about the passing of time, choosing the healthy options at lunch, organising themselves. Simply taking care of themselves. And you wonder why you are not like them. You don’t feel sorry for yourself though, you simply don’t have the energy to. And hold on, are you really depressed or is this just a spell? Hormones ? Why am I like this? If I had more money maybe… What’s the point anyway, right?

You are acutely aware that you are living in a one dimensional colourless world when other people are living in 5D.

It is so lonely.

I don’t know when it became so bad but I remember little things along the way. One day, looking up from the ground, I saw the world walk by, earphones in, listening to music. I imagined them planning their routes in their heads as they walked along to the beat. “I’ll take that bridge now and walk up the quays, yeah that’s the best way. Oh I love this song...” and on they went. They were just normal. I was suspended and couldn’t see beyond my own edges.

Oh and I had read so many bloody times in so many bloody books, that how you see the world is about the lens you choose to see it through. It’s all about what you feel and what you attract, see. Why couldn’t I just flipping feel my way out of this. Why couldn’t I think my way out of it. What was wrong with my perspective and why couldn’t I feckin’ change it?

Some days it felt like I was already gone.

I was terrified in the hospital at first – laces off, no locks on the doors, constant monitoring, my phone taken from me. I was in a ward with more security doors than the bank. I was stripped of things, sure, but I was not pared down in there. I was relieved. Going to the hospital allowed me to be taken care of when I needed to and to know that I had made a decision, my first decision in a long time: I wanted to get better. I wanted to heal.

There was no medical intervention in that first while, they just wanted to let me be. Then it was a lot of incredible talk therapy and later, a course of antidepressants. I wasn’t sure but the doctor explained it would be a helpful kickstart to the engine of my brain and would sooner get me back to myself. I was curious to see who the hell she was. This ‘myself’ character.

I wish I knew that night, when I wrote this suicide note, that I was still in there. But I was sick.

I was sick.

I breathe.

I am so grateful that I can rewrite this note.

Overtime, in the hospital and after, the space around my pain grew, allowing me to grow around it and beyond it.

What I wish I knew before all of this? No matter what happens to you in life, your stuff: your spirit, your morals, your truth, your sense of humour, the things about you that make you, you get to keep it all. It’s all in there. No matter what happens or how it feels, or even how long you have felt it: your stuff is still all there.

These days if I feel off kilter, I don’t finger point. I don’t spend time wondering why. I know that it will pass. It will always pass.

I won’t wait too long though and if I need to, I will go to the doctor and decide a course of action. Today, I try to be honest and have compassion for myself and for others. Compassion and honesty will save your life.

You should get help, when you need it, because, remember, you get to keep your stuff. And your stuff is worth keeping.

Take care,
Elaine x

Help information

If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.

If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here: