When my chapbook Nowhere came out, people told me they loved my writing. They loved my honesty, my raw emotion. I brought relatives and friends alike to tears. And I felt guilty for it. I wanted to detach myself from the world, and yet here they were, able to love this side of me. They almost understood the part of me that wanted to return to the past and never come back.
Soon I witnessed the reality of what I had written. I was so overwhelmed by this fleeting love others had given my work that I convinced myself to buy more time. I thought that if people could love my neuroses, then by extension they could love me. See, I wrote those essays for a closure people will never accept.
So let’s just be real here. I’m not a hero for giving my demons a voice.
Because I wrote those essays so I could die.
My self-published personal essay collection is essentially a suicide note. This would’ve been my magnum opus. This would’ve been my giveaway to the world. Call me self-centered, cowardly, overdramatic—anything you want. I never loved myself enough to use my writing as a reason to live. I’m using my writing to cement my memories and cement the fragments of me that I wish to live in the world. That’s my hubris. In my mind I feel like I owe it to the world to leave something behind. Yet the greater scheme of things, I’m sure, is bound to erase me.
Here’s the thing with depression: it’s the ugliest, most terrifying presence imaginable. Every day I wake up with monsters in my bed and thoughts of death in my head. Every day I must force myself to say, “No, not today.” Every day I come closer to the edge, wondering if my moment has finally come, if it’s the perfect time for everything to end.
When I was younger, I thought about what I absolutely needed to do before I could die. I told myself I would come up with a collection of my best-written works and compile them in a manuscript. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to die. Thing is, the more you think about dying, the less favorable some means become.
Call it an artist’s flair or whatever. I want to go in the most poetic of ways: by my own terms.
I still haven’t figured out how. Sometimes I think of hanging from the branch of the mango tree right outside my window. Then I realize the neighbors will see and make a fuss. Sometimes I think about drowning. But the body will always struggle to survive, and I know I cannot help my nature. Sometimes I think of taking every last one of my prescription pills and falling asleep. But it’s messy and inorganic. And I don’t want to leave this world carrying the very things that pulled me into the void.
One day I’ll figure out how I want to go. Maybe I’ll publish something better so the world can see how I’ve made an art out of hating who I’ve become. Perhaps this is why I’m hesitant to return to my essays. Each one is a step forward to where I want to be and where nobody else can follow. Nowhere is my suicide note because that’s precisely where I want to go.
Maybe I am romanticizing my demons. Maybe I’m confusing their toxic company for comfort. Maybe I am addicted to misery. After all, it’s everything I’ve known for years. It blinds me and it eats me alive every waking moment. And this is what we don’t talk about when we talk about depression.
It has become a part of me and I can’t stand it. I hate it and therefore I hate myself. And it’s not my illness that colors and inspires my stories. In fact, it hinders me from seeing the lighter side of things. I’ve all but given up on writing because every time I put words on a document, I think about how much I want to die. Every time I write I think about how much I want out.
So really, I’m not brave for putting my story out there.
I’m not brave for wanting to be heard. I didn’t write about longing for the past or taking my meds because I wanted to show how strong I’ve been. I wrote because the noise in my head is so loud and I want it all to end. I’m desperate and I’m lonely and I’m looking for people to love me. Love me before I leave. Maybe you’ll take my fears away. Because I’m so close to fully giving up, I’m no longer bent on moving on.
I've been struggling, in the constant cycle of denying & living with my mental illness And art has always paved way for self-care, and somehow, healing I truly believe i
only when you stay awake late enough can you hear the sound of daybreak, a town slowly coming alive as you wonder if you still are you count every breath you spend staring
Jan Alaba's digital illustration was inspired by this particular Alessia Cara song He has struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder, diagnosed since 2014 and is still working