It's winter. I haven't coped quite as well this year as I did last year. For the last six weeks I had to really work hard not to fall into the chasm: if I am not constantly aware and actively keeping my eye on the path, I tend to wander just a bit closer to the edge. Spring is here - maybe - the end of winter is here, anyway.
It's been harder for a number of reasons on top of winter darkness. Financial worries. Friends drifting away as they move to different places, get involved in new relationships, new jobs, new interests - or just tucking themselves away into their own problems. An old amalgam tooth was disintegrating and, perhaps as it's been a long time since this happened, I failed to notice that part of my misery was the particular type of depression that always accompanies the leaching of mercury into my body. (A depression accompanied by deep anger.) Then more financial worry from having to visit the dentist.
And then the death of Robin Williams at age 63. I'll be 63 this time next month. If he couldn't make it through, can I believe that I will?
There's been so many wonderful writing about depression since Robin's death, and so much that I strongly relate to.
I knew that the thing that stopped me actually committing suicide during the half dozen times I really wanted to, was the thought of the family and friends who would suffer if I did so, and the thought of the person who discovered my body, especially after I got to know someone who found her father shut in his idling car with a hose from the exhaust.
I've been doing a lot of thinking as I read all these people talking about their experiences and understanding of depression. I suddenly realised it wasn't just that I cared about other people that stopped me, it was that I realised that I have never considered myself as deserving of having my feelings matter. As a child I was smacked for being angry, sent to my room when sad and told to be quiet if I was happy and dancing around singing or such like - "what have you got to be so happy about," I remember my mother saying once. So I've just discovered that I have this underlying belief that I don't have the right to be depressed enough to kill myself.
When I heard that Robin Williams had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, my initial reaction was jealousy. In my worst times I have often wished that I would be diagnosed with some ghastly disease, so that it would be okay for me to commit suicide, because no one left behind would feel guilt for not doing something / enough to help me. How's that for sick?
So the next step in healing myself has become clear: I need to be able to have feelings of any kind without guilt, without thinking I don't deserve to have feelings. It's ridiculous that whatever I feel, guilt overwhelms it. Guilt because I don't deserve it. Guilty for thinking about suicide. Guilt for being depressed. Guilt for being sad. Guilt for not wanting to do things. Guilt for feeling proud of something I've done. Guilt for loving people 'too much'. Guilt for being happy.
No one should ever feel guilt for feelings. Sometimes the way we act in response to those feelings may be deserving of guilt. But not the feelings themselves. I want to reach a point where I can accept that I am entitled to my feelings, even the suicidal ones. I hope I never reach a point where I actually do kill myself, but I'd like to stop feeling guilty for feeling.