There were a couple of letters in the New York Sunday Times Magazine about Daphne Merkin's piece on depression last week. I'd written about this in an earlier post. Several of the responses agreed with my point of view. If she wasn't a rich girl, and couldn't afford the luxury of a break down, if she had started exercising, taking yoga, got acupuncture, changed her diet, whatever AND if the rent HAD to paid, maybe, maybe, maybe--- it wouldn't have gotten so bad for her.
My last suicide attempt was in October 2006. I came home from class, had three vodka tonics, passed out on the couch, and when I woke up, I took a razor blade to my wrist. But at the same time, a part of my brain saying, this is not acceptable behavior, so I called a hotline (1-800-LIFENET). One guy was an asshole and I hung up on him, but I called again and found someone I could talk to. After a while, I hung up the phone, disinfected the cuts and wrapped gauze around them and went to bed.
The next morning I had to face the awful truth about myself, and do something immediately. Because I had to go back to work. I had to go back to my classes at NYU. This was much worse than a hang-over. I knew I had to go to the emergency room--- maybe I needed stitches, and I absolutely needed to see a shrink. It was a surreal experience; I knew I was going to be there a long time, so I brought a book with me. There I sat on the hospital gurney, my right wrist bandaged up, reading Critical Terms for Literary Study, while a man with a gun stood watch over me.
The next week I joined a gym and started meditating again. Quit drinking. I couldn't afford the luxury of descending further into that abyss. I was pro-active; worked on mind and body. Starting seeing a shrink in my neighborhood--- who by the way I really disliked, but that's not the point. My mother--- when she saw me sunk down in despair and depression, said, get up and join the land of the living. I hear that voice till this day. Its a hard line. But every person I know who ended up catatonic with depression, couldn't get out of bed, wanted to die, couldn't wash their hair, and so on and so forth--- had money.
I'm on my own baby. I got to be my own mother, father, wife, husband and friend. I have to be all those things rolled up in one--- and I've learned coping skills. It's what 27 years of therapy has taught me. It doesn't take away the pain, it only teaches you how to live with it when things get bad. That's all therapy can do, but most of the time, its enough. Things get bad, then they get good again. How do you weather that storm when you're going down?