One year ago I was going to kill myself.
I had set out the date, the place and the method.
I was tired of trying so hard and feeling so awful. I was tired of living in a place that made me miserable. I was just plain tired.
And so I decided that I would live for one more year. I would save up my money and the next december, I would go to Japan for two weeks. I would see everything I’d dreamed of seeing, and then at the end of the two weeks, on December 31, 2018, I would go to Aokighara and I would die.
This plan filled me with relief.
I kept this a secret, just to myself, and it felt like a small warm glow inside me. The end was in sight!
Here’s the thing. I hard been working so hard to treat the symptoms of my depression and anxiety. I was exhausted from fighting against it so hard and it never getting any better. I felt like I’d tried everything. I was on anti-depressants, I’d had counselling, I’d done mindfulness, journalling, breathing exercises, going for walks. The list goes on. And on and on. But still I was stuck in a house filled with memories of abuse. I was in the room where I had been hit and slapped, I walked the corridors where I had been shoved and punched, I walked passed the place where I had been molested. And every day all of those memories where being triggered.
If someone has gangrene, is it better to give them pain medication, bandage it up and hope it gets better, or is it better to cut off the limb?
It was like I was rotting away, and all I could do was treat the symptoms and hope that the rot wouldn’t spread.
Then came New Year’s Eve, 2017. I was celebrating the official countdown to my death. I went out with friends, got drunk, watched the fireworks and danced. One of my friends was there, absloutely blind drunk, and he changed everything.
Barely standing, he leaned his forehead against mine and yelled this over the music:
“Promise me that you will live your best life!”
I told him that I was suicidal (I was also pretty wasted) but he wouldn’t have a bar of it.
“No,” he slurred, “promise me. Promise me now, that you’ll live your best life.”
I nodded, tears in my eyes.
“Say it!” Awfully demanding for a drunk guy, “say the words!”
“I promise!” I said, “I promise I’ll live my best life.”
“Good,” he said, then stumbled off into the night.
The next morning I woke up, took some panadol and contemplated the night before. Maybe he was right. Maybe I could give this one year the best that I could, and then, if things really didn’t get better, I could kill myself. Somewhat reluctantly, I dragged myself into 2018.
A few days later I was due to start back at work. I’d be doing the shifts alone, as I’d volunteered to do this so the main receptionist could have a week off. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Except that week, everyone in the building had a problem. I had people marking snarky remarks, being condescending and straight up rude, and I got pissed. I was so angry that I spent a lot of that week sending out job applications. The next week the main receptionist came back, I had a big complain to her and forgot all about sending job applications out.
My friend’s words rang in my head every now and then when I had down days, and each time they would make me pull myself together and focus.
Things basically settled back into a routine, until a few weeks into the year when I got a call from one of the jobs I had applied to. I’d completely forgotten about it and was surprised that they wanted an interview. I agreed, but couldn’t even figure out what the job was. It was with a subset of the university, so I figured it would be good pay, and it was full time, which I wasn’t sold on, but I figured I’d give it a go.
I turned up to the interview, and I don’t remember much of it, because I was so nervous. I do remember them bringing up the fact that I was studying, and assuring them that study and work would be no problem to balance (liar, liar, pants on fire). What I didn’t know at the time, was that one of the interviewer’s was my wise friend’s mother.
I didn’t hear anything from them for a while and convinced myself I hadn’t wanted the job anyway. And then I got the job. I was excited, shocked and terrified all at once. I gave my two weeks noticed, got my replacement trained up, and moved to a new job.
The first few weeks are a blur. I was meeting new people, learning new systems and trying to figure out my place in the company. But I did figure one thing out pretty quick – I loved it. Suddenly I was earning nearly four times what I had been. I was out of the house nearly all the time, I was getting to know my colleagues, and I had skills from my old job that I was using here.
Then I got my licence. I could finally pay for lessons, and I passed the test first try. I was cruising along, but I still didn’t feel great. I hated going home and would often just drive around to avoid it. I started half-heartedly looking for places that were up for rent. Then my parents announced they were going to America for a few weeks.
At first, this was just a holiday from them, for me. I had started going and looking at places to rent, but nothing was jumping out at me. My parents left and I kept looking. This place was nice, but not pet friendly, and I wanted a pet. That one was pet friendly, but in a bad neighbourhood. This was was in a good place, pet friendly, and waaaaaay out of my budget. It felt hopeless.
And then I went to see a place. It was on the upper side of my budget and much larger than I needed (four bedrooms!). It was pet friendly, right near the university and I loved it. I put an application in and two days later I was approved! With my parents away, I put all my focus into moving.
It wasn’t easy. I was exhausted and honestly, just didn’t want to do it. It seemed like so much work. My best friend came over and helped SO much. We were doing loads over to my new place, but I kept making excuses as to why I didn’t actually move in there. The truth was, I was scared of making that leap. I don’t know why, but I was.
Then one day I was driving and decided to go to Hungry Jacks and get a drink. I noticed the RSPCA Adopt A Pet Day was on, and thought I’d go and talk to them about a dog I’d seen on the website who was in Sydney, and the best way to go about adopting him. One of my friends’ mum’s was there and we got chatting. She directed me to another lady after I told her I was looking for an older dog who looked fierce but was a cuddler. That lady had a puppy with her who was up for adoption. I was holding him while we talked about possible dogs for adoption. The puppy I was holding looked up at me, licked my chin and I fell in love. We started talking about him. She told me he’s a beagle, staffy and mastiff mix, twelve weeks old, and his brother had just been adopted, so he was the last of the litter left.
I took him home.
Obviously, I couldn’t take him to my parents’ place, they don’t let dogs or any pets in there. So I had to take him to mine. But he was only a puppy, I couldn’t leave him there alone! And that gave me the push I needed.
Suddenly, I was out on my own, with this un-named puppy in my house. Everything was strange. I had a bed and nothing else. Not even a fridge! But I was okay. The first two nights he slept on my bed. I named him Chester and taught him not to pee in the house. I got a fridge and a washing machine and he learnt to sleep in the laundry. And then one day I was playing with him outside and I laughed. He was being silly and it was hilarious. I fell to the ground and just laughed and laughed. I felt so free!
That was a few weeks ago now. Now, Chester has nearly doubled in weight and size and I love him more than anything. I have a sofa, blankets and paintings on the walls. Tomorrow I’m having friends over for brunch. I laugh, I smile and I sleep well at night. I feel happier and more confident than I ever have before. Suddenly, it’s like I’m living someone else’s life. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real. I think about the idea of dying, and it seems abhorrent. I can’t die, I have a puppy relying on me! I now actually look forward to going home. I get home and Chester is waiting for me with cuddles and a wagging tail and hours of play ready for me. I don’t dread being at home. I don’t jump at every little noise. I’m not only happy, I’m content.
I spent so long treating my symptoms and ignoring the cause of my problems. It was like a weed that I would cut back, but couldn’t figure out why it kept growing. And then I ripped it out of the ground and it died.
I’m glad I didn’t kill myself. I’m glad that I listened to my friend and I’m glad that I’m living my best life.