The Things That Save My Life
Before I begin the flow of writing, I want to add a **TRIGGER WARNING: I am going to be speaking about my most recent bought of depression and my specific thoughts of suicide. If that is triggering for you, I would recommend not reading this post.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a lot of photos of baking, cooking, reading, and sitting in the sun. What you may not know if that these things have literally saved my life.
On Sunday morning I woke early and immediately knew my mental health was in a bad place. I had slept poorly, riddled by nightmares. I felt dragged down, but wanted to power through and do something I had planned and love to do: go to the pottery studio. I drove to the studio listening to a podcast to distract myself and just get there. I arrived, dropped off my pieces in a fog, and picked up my two completed plates that I would typically be very excited for. I felt nothing, put them in a box, and went to drive home. As I was driving home, on a long stretch of highway surrounded by hills and trees, I had the sudden thought “It would be so easy to crash this car and end my life right now.” I was shocked by the thought, I didn’t think I was in such a dark place. But my mind continued to spiral, “Even if I didn’t die, at least I would likely feel a lot of pain that perhaps I deserve or want to feel.” My brain continued down the long staircase of painful thought. It kept going, and going and going. As much as I desired to stop, I could not stop my mind. But somehow my physical body, hands and feet, continued to drive at the speed limit, staying in my lane. I put myself in the middle lane of the highway, because if I were to crash the car from that place, I would be putting others in danger which I did not want to do. I was hoping that I could make it home on the desire to keep other people alive rather than myself.
I came home, and put on a cheery face. Ian was so excited to see my plates I completed, they were the best ones I’ve made yet. He could tell I felt no excitement. Time went on, and he asked me in the kitchen, “You okay, honey? You seem a little off.” “I just feel a little down today, not sure what’s going on.” I replied. He continued to encourage me to talk about it, and I couldn’t bring myself to. I didn’t want to share with him something I felt would make me look weak, small, or broken. I’ve been spending the last few months trying to get better, god damnit. The day went on as usual, I sat on the couch and read my book for quite some time. Ian came and sat next to me and I lay my head in his lap, he stroked my hair. I think he knew whatever was going on was darker than I was letting on, but I didn’t know how to let him in. I was wrestling with myself in my brain, that in this moment of tenderness, would I be ruining it by sharing my demons? Would I be ruining his touch and kindness by showing him I am so, so low? I finally blurted out, “I had bad thoughts while driving the car this morning.” I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer, they welled up in my eyes. I felt his hand pause on my head as he put down his phone and processed the information. “Like crashing the car bad thoughts?” I began to weep in his lap, drooling and snotting everywhere, unable to hold back. I managed to push out a meager “yeah” feeling like an ugly, broken baby. Every time it gets this bad, I fear he’s had enough, that I’ve broken him down too far, that I’m just too much. Instead, he rubbed the skin on my arms softly, scratched my head, and said “Oh, Melodie, you are so brave. Thank you for coming home to me. You did it, you made it, you made it home. That took so much courage. You’re the strongest person I know. I’m so glad you came home to me. Jesus, you’re so strong.” He continued to hold me and whisper these words to me tenderly as I wept in his lap. I blubbered out an “I’m sorry” and he said, “I understand why you’re feeling like you need to say that, but you don’t need to say that. You have nothing to be sorry for. You did it, you made it home. That’s the very best thing you could do and you should never be sorry for that.”
Once I finished my weeping, we went out for a walk to get some fresh air. A dear friend of ours told us recently that when her husband is in his lowest point and sharing his darkness, she asks him, “Would you like to hear an objective truth about that thought you’re having?” When he says yes, she speaks truth, and even when it feels like it doesn’t matter it allows her husband to get out of his head just enough to feel the slightest amount better. Ian did that with me on this walk, “Hey Mel, would you like to hear an objective truth about some things you’re feeling right now?” He encouraged me while we walked and I cried even more. Even though I still felt in a dark cloud that I could not lift he gave me patience and kindness and goodness. He helped me to focus on something other than my spiral at that moment.
In the beginning of April, with the recommendation from my psychiatrist, I took an immediate medical leave of absence from work. Over the past several months, I have been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Type 2 Bipolar Disorder. While things are looking a lot like sunshine and homemade bread and making pottery on the internet, there is more to the story. I try and focus on the light in my life surrounding these dark moments, but the dark moments do exist. These things I’ve mentioned have saved my life. I encourage you to find your things that save your life. I never knew reading, the kitchen, or throwing on a wheel would be my things, but they have been. I never knew that having a dog that I have to feed everyday would save my life. I never knew that I could find a partner that when he looks at me, he does not see that broken weeping woman, but sees strength and courage. Going to a psychiatrist and being prescribed medications, has saved my life. Find the things that save your life and let people in. Your life is worth it, and we want you around. I hope you find your strength to get through.