This is a confession – one that’s had a long time coming. It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to bring myself to really process and reflect on things happening in my life. I suppose I was riding the wave, trusting that it would bring me to where I would need to be, whilst closing my mind from all the negativity that was tearing me apart. In a way, it worked. It got me this far. But it’s time that I called out my demons in such a way that they won’t keep coming back to hurt me.
I was in an awful state of mind for most of my undergrad senior year. Most of the anxiety and feelings of worthlessness stemmed from my thesis project. Nothing seemed to be working out the way I envisioned it to. While everyone else was making progress on their projects, I felt that I was continuously hitting a dead end. Even simple reactions that were shown to work by my supervisor somehow turned into a mess of unrecoverable chemicals. While no one in the lab wanted to put me down nor did they ever make me feel ostracized or unwelcome, I felt another piece of whatever self-esteem I had left break off and shatter every time I walked through those doors.
Things got worse throughout the year, instead of the better that I was promised. I set fire to a waste bin because I forgot to thoroughly clean a syringe of a highly oxidative reagent. A lab mate’s quick thinking saved the situation as I just stood there frozen in the fear of what I had just done. I almost wish they had kicked me out of the lab for good then. Maybe I would’ve been spared all of the misery that continued to pile on after. The only consequence I received was increased supervision so that an accident like that wouldn’t happen again. And of course, I would fuck up again a few months later by forgetting to turn on the ventilation on the glove box after purging it. I was a walking disaster so to speak.
I wasn’t okay. By February, it was clear that I was sinking further and further into a hole I could not crawl out of. I very much should’ve given up and dropped the course, but I felt that I couldn’t approach the administrator after he had given me a special pass after handing my application in late. I didn’t want to let yet another person down.
My friends at school knew I wasn’t happy with the course, but they probably didn’t expect that it was destroying my mental health. They were surprised when I broke down at the poster presentation where you had to present your research to professors. I felt incredibly stupid, like I didn’t know anything after months of trying to get a grasp on this project. We buried that day in alcohol with my friends saying silly things about the prof that put me down in order to cheer me up. As much I would like to put it all behind me, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that hollow feeling of worthlessness that drowned me.
Things spiraled out of control so easily and so quickly. I should’ve gotten help somewhere along the process, but didn’t. I would never suggest that anyone attempt to deal with something like this alone, but I did anyway. I genuinely wanted to kill myself several times over the course of those two semesters. I spent more nights crying myself to sleep than I can count. Even now, I feel like a disappointment looking back on how little I had accomplished.
The little things saved me. The little things that told me repeatedly that life was still worth living. Attending class and dinner dates with my friends. Playing video games. My favourite drinks at Second Cup whenever I was having a tough day or had a late lecture. The many “I miss you” messages from my mom. Knowing that I would be somewhere better next year. And my boyfriend at the time…(whom I cannot thank enough for being my escape from all of the misery; our recent break-up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done).
I just wanted the time to make this blog as a reminder of why life is always worth living. Depression is not terminal. There will be good days just as there are bad days (or bad years). While it takes a great deal of strength and courage to commit suicide, it takes just as much to continue struggling through this hell and persevering. Sometimes it can be easy to feel alone in this great big world, but you’re never alone in feeling that way. Even on the nights when the sky is grayed out, you can rest easy that the stars are still out there somewhere in space. Even when the world seems to be full of darkness, there is light somewhere beyond the horizon. Believe in it. There will always be a chance for things to get better. Hold onto it and don’t you dare let go.