On Thanksgiving 2020, I wrote a blog post where I said I’m thankful to be alive and in some ways, I meant it. The part of me that hadn’t killed himself yet meant it. But Thanksgiving 2020 was also pre-medication and pre-therapy and so, I know the preponderance of the evidence suggests that I did not mean it at the time. While that part of me that did mean it vocalized it, at that time, I was still knee deep in the thicket of suicidal ideation and would be for another seven months.
And I sure as heck hadn’t even begun to reckon with the grief I was feeling after my break-up in December 2019. Because I’m dealing with it now, nearly a year later.
So, on Thanksgiving 2021, I truly can say, amid months of medication (after trying a second kind that’s worked much better) and therapy, I am happy to be alive and the preponderance of the evidence indicates, contrary to Maury (I can’t believe how much I used to watch that show!), that is not a lie.
I go to therapy. Bi-weekly at this point. I want to keep saying that, to keep verbalizing it and to destigmatize it. For myself and others. There’s still a small part of me that thinks, “Keep that private, so people don’t look at you weird, or worse, pity you.” I despise the idea of being pitied or handled with kid gloves, as it were. But, whatever. I go to therapy. You don’t need to pity me. I’m getting better. For once, I can say I can see what the other side of depression looks like. It sure as heck is a lot less dark and foggy and a slog.
In fact, yesterday I “went” to therapy. I say “went” because it’s a virtual meeting, but still, and as I’m talking to her, it occurred to me how surreal it still feels to say aloud: I don’t think about killing myself anymore. Suicidal ideation isn’t my normal. Because it used to be my normal for years and I’m only recently getting acquainted with what Brett Milam is like without that. I recently wrote about that identity question as well, so I won’t rehash that here.
Liberating was the word that came to mind yesterday.
I’m not whole. And I’m not sure I ever can be or that that’s the goal, but I am better. I have my moments where I slip down below into the depression sea again, just a little dip, like a tide lapping at my feet on the shores of a past I don’t want to be at anymore.
But I’m truly thankful to be alive. Because there’s more reason to live again. To be of service. To be a contributor. To be. And I’m far more comfortable in just being. I think that’s the truly revolutionary, radical realization I’ve come to through the hard-work of therapy coupled with medication: I can just be without the thought of my own death a constant, lingering thought in the back of my skull, or often, at the forefront. It doesn’t have to overshadow every single waking moment.
At the time of that Thanksgiving 2020 post, I was taking one step at a time because that’s all I could manage. I don’t know, maybe I have a gainful gait now?
What are you thankful for this year?