all I feel is pain. pain. just agonizing turmoil. it’s like my insides were made from brutal sadness and pathetic despair. and it just swallows me up. but not really swallows, because it is me. it can’t swallow me because i am it. i am pain. and then it all goes away and i’m numb. non existent.. sometimes i want the pain because not feeling tortures me more. i can go from brutal absolute pain to absolute desolation in less than a second. like it’s a game. that i don’t want to play anymore.
I wrote this at the beginning of June. When everyone from my therapist to popular culture told me that journaling and writing would help ease my depression. Most of my journal has some pretty serious stuff in it, from my documents of all my suicidal urges to even more heart-breaking entries like suicide notes to my family I prepared, seconds after I overdosed for the first time, and entries I wrote on my bedroom floor surrounded by snot wishing someone understood me. I wish I could tell you that it worked – that having an outlet and being able to express myself and my feelings of loneliness and despair helped ease my depression. But it didn’t.
The truth is it only made it worse. I came to avoid writing because I knew after finishing I’d only feel more upset. I had to live with my depression and get a front row seat to everything. Why would I want to replay it all through documenting it, for no one to even see? Then of course when I expressed this to my therapist, that writing only made me feel worse (obviously), she suggested I have to write about things that make me happy. Duh!
Now, I am in no way trying to insult or deride my doctor. She’s a phenomenal woman and without her I don’t think I could’ve made it this far. But telling me a few months ago to find time in my very long day of waking up sad, skipping showers and meals to binge watch House of Cards all day, so I can ignore my existence and go to bed sad, that I should write down a few things I’m thankful for would’ve just had me feeling like lo and behold! Another person who doesn’t understand me… obviously I can’t do that because obviously I’m not thankful for anything. I’m making fun of myself but to be honest in that state everyone is against you. You have no allies, no supporters, and definitely nothing to be happy about.
I’m three months past that and doing a lot better. Not where I want to be or where the average young adult bursting with youth and vigour is… but better. I haven’t journaled in months and this is the first time I’m documenting anything about my journey since. I hope that writing and journaling does work for some people, but for me it does nothing to ease my soul. However, I am now on medication and that makes me feel less broken.
I consider myself lucky that I was even able to have a conversation with my parents about depression. Most young adults/teens/children suffer for years before their parents seriously acknowledge what’s going on. However, my dad still kisses his teeth whenever I bring up my mental illness, while my mom took some getting used to the idea. Instead of medication, she offered me tea and yoga to assuage my broken spirit. While I cried in my room wishing I had the courage to kill myself, but you know, we live and we learn.
The point is mental health is not treated as seriously as it can be in Jamaica, and my expensive medication and expensive weekly doctor visits are a luxury awarded to me by my upper middle class family who, while they may not exactly understand my illness, have done nearly everything in their power to help me. As for the many depressed young Jamaicans who will go undiagnosed or untreated due to their reluctance to get help, these treatment plans could save their lives. The suicide rate among young people could shrink dramatically, were it not for the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health treatment.
*Cat: name changed to protect identity