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Stigma Fighters : William Thomason

You can be happy if you want to.
If you trusted the Lord, you would be better.
All you want is attention.
Grow up. Everyone has problems.
Be more positive.

Sound familiar? I’ve heard quite a few negative responses, certainly not limited to the list above. Telling people that you are depressed often gets a dismissive attitude, particularly from people who have not lived with it. Tell someone that you are being treated for bipolar spectrum. The eye rolling is my personal favorite. There is a thought that it is a cop out. Doctors hand out this diagnosis just to make money. What doubters do not comprehend is that life often makes no sense to someone living with depression.

How do you convey to another that it is difficult to imagine a future when living makes no sense? The desire to end this misery is a constant companion. Daily existence and activity are an effort. Maintaining friendships become a matter of anxiety. Taking care of you when outside of the public eye can be unimportant. How do you maintain a relationship when just changing out of pajamas is a trial?
If you live like this, you understand, even if your experiences aren’t necessarily the same. I have lived this as long as I am able to recall. The first time I seriously considered suicide doesn’t count in my mind. It was sudden, random, and passed in moments. The second time around, though, was far more deliberate. It worked out that I had three days off. My manager arranged the schedule to give me a nice weekend. Her efforts were wasted. Nothing was accomplished. I was unable to do anything but shuffle back and forth, sitting for hours unable to do anything but feel empty. Hollow. An ending was all I could concentrate on. This had to end.

I’ve told a few people in the last few years about that weekend. After 12 years I reached a point where it was possible to acknowledge those events. I described the methods I considered and rejected: Self-immolation, slit wrists, bullet to the head, hanging, etc. I settled on filling backpacks and rucksacks with stones and walking out to the deeper areas of the river. Disappearing would be best. I could spare everyone the trouble of dealing with my corpse. I wish I could tell you the epiphany that stopped me, but I can’t even tell you. I just didn’t follow through.
A few years ago I stumbled across the right people to help me. It can be discouraging if it takes quite a while locating people you can connect with. The timing was good after spending months swinging through anxiety and depression constantly, sometimes several times in a day. I wasn’t sleeping but a few hours a night. Late in the spring, working as a seasonal park ranger, I was on a strenuous medical recovery and my first time carrying a corpse. That spring was already bad for me mentally and this was the tipping point. I was unbearable to be around more often than not.

This is my third attempt at writing this submission. I couldn’t figure out what to say, and the first two attempts nearly caused episodes. I stopped caring what people thought of me discussing depression and anxiety. I have frequently posted and wrote notes on Facebook about my experiences. A number of people have thanked me for being outspoken, saying that it encouraged them to seek help or focus on the effort they have already put forth. I continue to do this, although there has been backlash both professionally and personally. The attention seeking accusations are my current favorites. Avoiding swearing was an intention I began with, but to anyone who cannot show compassion to a person confessing that they are being destroyed by their own minds: Fuck off. Keep quiet rather than dismissing someone else.

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20150225_144823William is an occasional park ranger (maybe not after this is posted), pretends to be a writer, writes laughably child-like poetry, and enjoys self-deprecation.

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  • Kitt O’Malley

    I hope that treatment, such as medication and supportive psychotherapy, helps you cope with living with bipolar depression and anxiety. I know how painful it is to live with hellacious suicidal ideation, to want to die for the pain is so unendurable. Thankfully, medication and many years of psychotherapy have helped me. I must admit, it was difficult reading the ways in which you have considered ending your life. Thank you for the self-deprecatory bio. That made reading through the pain worth it. You are worth it. Your life is worth living. You are not alone. Many of us have felt similar pain, and we care. Even those who have not felt such pain, who have no idea what it is like to live with suicidal ideation, care. It is hard to see when depressed. Depression puts blinders on. We see only those who roll their eyes or dismiss us. We do not see that we are loved, that we are valued, that we are cherished.