It occurred to me recently that Christmas 2021 marks my first Christmas since perhaps I was a young teen where my brain isn’t anchored down by depression, and within the last few years, suicidal ideation (suicidal thoughts and contemplations).
If you’re at all familiar with some of the red flags are of someone thinking about killing themselves, one of them is that the person will begin to sell off their possessions or spend a lot of money (because they think they’re near the end, so what’s it matter?).
For the last few years, that was something I did. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts to others on Christmas going back to when I was a young teen (my grandma used to give my siblings and I a Walmart gift card, which we would use to then buy our parents and other family members gifts; I loved that tradition and I think it kick-started my own giving mindset!) and it was in no way tied to depression and suicidal ideation.
But there certainly came a point in the last few years where I perhaps overdid the gift-giving thinking, this will be the last Christmas. That’s just how that mindset goes and for those who aren’t suffering from depression or other mental conditions, it’s hard to understand what that irrational thinking and brain is like. That’s why I keep writing about it to hopefully help others understand and if necessary, notice those red flags in others.
Other behavior signs that indicate someone is thinking about it or even planning on going through with it, include an increased use of alcohol or drugs, actively searching out how to do it, withdrawing and isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, telling people goodbye (that one is a bit on the nose, huh?), aggression and fatigue.
Aside from aggression and telling people goodbye (other than once in a drunken state …), I’ve experienced some manner of all of those. I’ve had periods where I was overdoing the alcohol (beer usually) to “numb” the depression and suicidal feelings, which is obviously not an appropriate solution, or even one that works. I’ve searched how to kill myself, something I’d actively avoided doing for such a long time, and doing it scared me. Because it was right there at my fingertips and that access made it somehow seem more salient than a mere thought boomeranging around in my head like a deadly game of Pong.
I’ve withdrawn, isolated, had weird sleeping patterns and I’ve been fatigued (to my previous post, that sort of overwhelming sense of how tired it feels to be alive, much less to operate on a basic level).
The rough thing about this pattern of giving away possessions or spending money on others before you think you’re about to exit stage left is that, if you don’t, then you’ve kinda screwed over future you in the short-term financially. So, I’ve had issues with finances that I would directly tie to this sort of mindset, where I thought, it’s over, so let’s spend X amount of money because who cares? And then, it wasn’t over and future me was left dealing with the prior me’s bad spending.
It’s also a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, as I said, I genuinely enjoy giving and on the other hand, sometimes that giving was an extension, or manifestation, of a very dark place in my brain. It makes giving feel selfish in that way. That I’m making other people unwitting accomplices to something awful perhaps? I don’t know. I haven’t fully fleshed out this mixed bag of emotions regarding my giving at a time of darkness.
Anyhow, as I’ve mentioned on the blog numerous times, I’ve gotten better in the last six months leading up to Christmas 2021: I’m taking a great antidepressant medication; I’m dieting and exercising (for the most part! I still have my days where I munch on sugar cookie cookie dough, WHAT?!), which includes yoga and meditation; and most importantly, I’ve seen a therapist on a regular basis.
There’s a running derision about therapy that it’s ludicrous to pay someone money to just … listen to you. Or talk at you about things you could Google or may already think you know. Now, to be sure, without insurance (and even with, to be honest), therapy is expensive. But if you’re in a position to pay for it and I hope you are, then it is 100 percent worth the price to have someone listen, talk with you and at times, yes, say things that may seem obvious, but suddenly hit different coming from a therapist. It has helped me.
I was driving to my siblings house the other day to give them Christmas presents and the fact of this being my first Christmas without depression or suicidal ideation washed over me and it felt good. That I was doing what I love, which is giving, and it wasn’t tied or anchored to anything worse.
The albatross has lifted and I’m still navigating what it’s like to operate through life without it, but so far, I like it. That itself might seem weird, but when your normal becomes depression and suicidal ideation, as mine did, then when those left, it is almost like learning to live again in a way.
I hope if you’re reading this, and thank you for reading, you have a happy holiday of whatever you’re celebrating. I know I will be.
Please, if you are reading this and can relate to the mindset I’ve been in and you’re currently in it, consider reaching out to a close person in your life, or you can reach out to me, if you want. I’m always happy to talk. And there are always resources.
In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 800-273-8255.