[Content Warning: This post speaks of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Proceed at your own risk.]
I used to walk more than a mile down Princess Anne Boulevard and Dam Neck Boulevard on my daily walks. It was part of how I survived the events of 2010 and 2011. Many mornings during those days I walked during morning rush hour, with both roads filled with cars, busses, pickup trucks, SUVs, and commercial trucks.
More than once, on those walks, I knew a simple truth. If I turned to the side and took two steps, I wouldn’t have to live with the emotional and spiritual pain I was in. Two steps to the side, and one big truck, doing 45 or 50 miles per hour. I’d never know what hit me.
I knew how to die, escape, leave, abandon this world I never made. A world that had torn my heart out with its fingernails, then threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. A world that said to me, “You’re done!”
I walked those mornings knowing everything was wrong. I wasn’t in my car, driving to work, like everyone else was. Instead, I was spending my days at home. Writing. Watching TV. Doing household chores. And wondering what everyone I’d known, everyone I’d worked with, felt was so wrong, so broken, with me.
I walked when I needed to walk. When my emotional state became so tense, so confusing to me, I couldn’t think at all, let alone think straight, or rationally. I walked when I wanted to scream, when I wanted to punch people in the face, when I wanted to argue with everyone I’d ever met, when I felt completely numb, when I couldn’t feel anything, or think anything.
I walked to find my way back to me.
I can’t explain things better than I have. I haven’t found any words for what I felt in those days. Anguish is such a disposable word. Depression has become a sheet of paper people use to cover up emotional topics. Too many words we use in our society have lost their meaning to me. They’ve become disposable, wink and nod and the world’s OK, cover up words. Words used to filter out things people don’t want to deal with.
I can say I knew, even as I walked, I never would take two steps to the side. I’d have walked through a hallway filled with fire, with a floor covered in burning coals, but I’d never take those two steps to the side. Because I knew. If I took those two steps I’d be running from what I was afraid of.
And I don’t run.
I have learned my doctor, and my family, were more than a little scared about my long walks. Part of what scared them was whether I’d take those two steps. They never spoke of it, other than to say how concerned they were when I had to take a walk.
I’m still figuring that part of my story out. Still figuring out how people reacted to what I was going through. How they felt about my behavior, the things I said, the things I did. I remember being asked, more than once, why I was so angry. If I was OK. If everything was alright. I remember my answer was always, “Yes. I’m fine.” To me, I was. By my standard, by my understanding of life, everything was OK. I was enduring some changes, long overdue ones at that, I was angry, frustrated, scared. Scared of what was happening. Of the unknown, of moving away from everything I’d known, everything I’d done, everything I’d been.
To me, everything was normal. To me, knowing how to remove myself from this Earth is normal. And I do know more than a few ways. Doesn’t everybody?
I’ve also learned my doctor took a while to figure out how tough I am. I know this is true because I didn’t end up locked away in a room somewhere on suicide watch. My doctor figure out I wasn’t at risk. No one needed to lock me up, to protect me from myself.
All I needed was time.
Turned out time was all I had.
To this day, I know the truth. Two steps to the side, and it’s over.
To this day, I know the truth. I won’t take those steps.
I don’t run.
Bring it, life. Bring it.