I wrote this story back in June but only shared it with a couple people. However, in light of Robin Williams' death, I thought it would be something good to share with everyone just to pass on a positive, hopeful message for anyone dealing with depression or bipolar disorders. While this isn't a true story, it's based on my own battle with depression, which is approaching two years. Please pass this message on, and if you know anyone struggling with depression, please, please let them know you're there for them.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Part No One Knows
Let’s start near the end, when the knife was pressed against your arm. Not many people know about this part. It’s that moment of hesitation when a wave of second thoughts floods your head, and you think, if only for a second, that you might not do it. “I have to,” you’ll tell yourself, the first tears forming. And just when you think you’re about to do it, you don’t. Then you feel angry, and blame yourself for taking so long. “Just do it!” you’ll scream through your teeth. But nobody will hear you, because the words never actually leave your mouth. The door is closed, but you’re afraid someone will hear and check on you. If your sister found you with that knife pressed against the tender side of your arm, drawing a rift in your skin, she would never look at you the same way. She’d scream, and the whole house would hear. And then what would you do? You can’t do it in front of her.
In the morning, your mother will come upstairs to say goodbye before she leaves for work. She’ll be expecting the same groggy “mmph” because you’re barely half-awake, like you do every morning. But when she finds you tomorrow, you’ll be laying on the stained carpet. She’ll scream, but you won’t hear. She’ll drop to her knees and grab your body and shout, but you’ll only hang limp. Your sister will run into the room, scared, and then she’ll see your pale, bloodless face. Maybe your eyes will be open. That will make it worse.
You squeeze your eyes shut and press the blade harder against your arm. The serrated edge pricks your skin. If you don’t do this, there will be a red line traced across your arm for at least a few days. Someone is bound to see it. When they do, their eyes will flick up at yours, but only for a moment. They’ll look away again. You’ll pull your arms to your chest, but the damage has been done. They won’t tell anyone though. Your secret is safe.
“But what’s the point?!” Even the words in your head seem to shake with anger. The world is dark. Your eyelids twitch and a sliver of light shines through. Then you squeeze it shut again. Darkness is your friend. It’s only a matter of time before darkness is all you’ll see, so you might as well get used to it now.
You curl your fingers harder around the handle. In your darkness, you begin to feel the blade. People always said metal feels cool against the skin, but it’s not. It’s warm. You peek out one eye. There’s no blood. The warmth is an illusion. Your mind is tricking you into thinking you’ve done it, but you haven’t. You relax your grip, relieve some of the pressure. The warmth goes away. The knife feels cold. Its edge doesn’t tug your skin, but it feels sharper than before.
Fear overtakes you. You open both eyes, and tears drip down your nose. Your stomach twists. You let go, hear the soft thud on your carpet, and back away. You hit the wall on the other side of your bedroom and slide down it until you’re sitting with your knees pulled to your chest. The knife is pointed away from you. The line on your arm flushes red. You sit there and you cry.
In the morning, your mother comes upstairs to say goodbye before she leaves for work. She’s expecting the same groggy “mmph” like you do every morning. She tells you to have a good day, and she loves you. She pauses when you don’t say anything. Maybe you’re asleep. So she walks closer and rubs your hair and kisses your forehead.
You open your eyes. Hers are right there. “I love you,” you say. She smiles and tells you to have a good day again, and to make sure you get your sister to school on time. When you hear the front door shut, you get up and take the knife out of your drawer. You go downstairs, walk onto your back porch, and drop the knife in the trash can. Later, your mother will notice she’s missing a knife. She’ll wonder about it for a few minutes, then again tomorrow. But she’ll forget it by the end of the week, around the same time the red line on your arm fades.
This time next year, she’ll have a new knife. Ten years from now, she’ll dance with you at your wedding. Then she’ll have grandkids to spoil. You’ll pretend to not notice her sneaking them extra dessert, and you’ll pretend to wonder why they’re so tired the morning after she babysits for you. Her grandkids will giggle, and you will smile with a quick wink. And every night, you’ll tuck them into bed, kiss their foreheads, and whisper a bedtime story. You’ll go back downstairs and sit on the couch and hold the person who is allowed to love you forever, because you chose to love yourself.