Please know that while this short story is fiction and is meant to be enjoyed for its style and content, it is inspired by a frightening reality faced by people all over the world. Mental illness does not discriminate. The stigma surrounding disorders and diseases like depression and schizophrenia needs to be destroyed, and we can make that happen by creating a conversation and educating ourselves and others. Please show compassion to everyone you encounter in life. They may just hear or see something you don’t.
Another day of work.
You’re a joke.
Another day of mediocrity in the name of a paycheck.
You’re a waste of space. What’s the point?
Another cold morning with visible breath and achy joints.
You deserve to hurt.
She sat daydreaming in her unremarkable car, staring out the windshield at the other unremarkable vehicles, both idling and parked, between fading yellow lines.
The familiar pop song on the radio ended and the chipper, charismatic voice of an underpaid disc jockey interrupted her absent musing.
She sighed, defeated. She pulled the key from the ignition and opened the door, and as she turned toward the center console to fetch her purse, an object in the passenger floorboard caught her eye.
A large black pocket knife lay in plain sight, clumsily and mistakenly left behind by her husband. She paused and thought for a moment, and her flawed logic made her decide not to leave the weapon in the car.
I shouldn’t leave this in such a visible spot, she thought to herself as she retrieved the knife and, instead of concealing it in the glove box, she tucked it in her purse before locking the car and walking to her office.
The same stained carpet.
Disgusting, like you.
The same cluttered desk with stacks of unending paperwork.
The same jingles of keys from the same insufferable colleagues.
They all hate you.
She worked routinely, but just going through the motions allowed her to slip into an ever-darkening state of mind. Each sheet of paper and click of the keyboard left her more agitated. She heard her associates babbling too enthusiastically about their ordinary lives, and her phone seemed to ring again and again, just seconds after ending the call before.
Anxiety rose in her throat like bile, and she frantically pulled open her desk drawer to find the pills that would calm her enough to allow her to finish her work without a breakdown. Addiction was the name of only one of her many inner demons. With shaking hands, she fumbled with the zippers and snaps of her purse.
Her fingers grazed a package of tissues, a tube of lip gloss, her checkbook which might as well be kindling, cough drops, and-
An unexpected metal object.
Did you forget about that?
An unexpected desire replacing anxiety.
End their incessant chattering.
An unexpected lapse of caution and conscience.
Do it. You have absolutely nothing to lose, you piece of trash.
She suddenly rose and walked away from her desk, and she felt as if she was floating. She navigated the halls purposefully and quietly, but paid no mind to her surroundings. It was effortless; she acted similarly to a lucid dreamer who works impossibly quickly and without consequence.
Her boss was the first victim. He only had enough time to shoot her a concerned glance before she practically lunged across the room and made the first inelegant incision.
Voices told her to do it.
Make them bleed.
Voices whispered to her night and day but she attempted to quiet them with pharmaceutical muzzles.
We’re still here.
Voices convinced her to kill.
You’re a monster.
Her ears rang as she thrashed and plunged the knife into her colleagues’ flesh over and over, moving from office to office deliberately and rapidly. Her work mates had no time to process or react to her blows. She couldn’t even hear their pained screams despite how they must have been tormented by every stab and slice.
The rooms filled with the scent of pennies, and brilliant red adorned the mundane walls and stained carpets. She laughed joyfully and hysterically at the sudden change in scenery.
They were all dead. There was no one left to call for help but she knew someone would become aware of her actions soon enough. Oddly, she felt no remorse and even smiled as she leaned back against one of the freshly blood-painted walls and slid to the floor.
No more mediocre life.
No more routine, no more insufferable coworkers, and no more weight on her shoulders.
You’re going to die.
“Call an ambulance!”
“Oh, God, what have you done?”
“Check her pulse! What are those pills?”
“There’s so much blood!”
So much blood.
So much… blood…
So much… pain?
She slumped in her chair, and her downward glance revealed her bloody hands, holding both her entrails and the knife with which she was sure she had just murdered at least three people. She choked and sputtered as she began to realize the damage she had inflicted, not on any of her coworkers, but on herself.
As the scope of her vision receded, she lifted her head to see her physically unscathed colleagues, and the empty pill bottle, almost indistinguishable amidst the pools and spatters of crimson. Warm blood replaced the last of the air in her lungs.
One last heartbeat.
One last sound heard before everything faded away completely.
One last time the voice of her mental illness said
Available 24 hours everyday
Well, the issue I blogged about yesterday hasn’t yet been resolved. I don’t know if it ever will.
On top of that, I’m scared.
I don’t know what it is… But I feel… I feel myself slipping back into the hole I was in last summer. The depression.
I ache, I’m exhausted, everything is beginning to turn into a chore again, I’m angry and sensitive and sad and yet, I fear numbness is on its way…
I don’t want to be numb.
Maybe it’s change that led me here again. I got my heart broken by putting myself out there and trying to make friends. Maybe it’s failure that led me here again.
How do I fight it off? I still take my medication, I’m still working hard to exude positivity… What am I doing wrong?
My heart is so heavy. It’s weighing me down and I fear that soon, I’ll fall behind and be run over.
I’m so, so tired.
Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?
Is this what dying feels like? That thought crossed my mind the night I hit rock bottom. I lay in bed with tears rolling down my face and onto the blankets beneath me as I stared blankly at nothing in particular. My whole body ached, I was physically and mentally exhausted, and I could swear I felt myself slipping away.
My name is Kylea Copeland, and I am a victim of depression.
I am a full time student, I work two jobs, I’m engaged to be married and I have a busy schedule. There is nothing wrong with all those aspects of my life, but it doesn’t leave room or time for constant sadness, sickness, anger, excessive anxiety and an overall feeling that life is a chore. Everyone gets sad, anxious, angry or ill once in awhile, and that’s normal. After all, we’re human. The difference between my situation and a normal one though, is that I felt a combination of those emotions every single minute of every day.
My battle with depression began in high school. I can’t put my finger on any one factor that caused my illness, but between hormones, a sheltered and tense home life, a busy schedule and not-so-high self-esteem, I think there was plenty of kindling available to start a fire.
One of the first major signs of the impending battle began with a constant headache that lasted nearly two years. No over-the-counter medication would relieve the pain completely, though occasionally it would take the edge off. On some days the pain was mild once I became accustomed to it, but on other days it was so severe I would just cry or have to try to sleep to escape it.
The constant pain in my head was enough to frustrate me, but additional stressors in my life led to another ugly symptom of my illness. Certain intense emotional situations would set off anxiety attacks. If you’ve never experienced an anxiety attack, I hope you never do. When something would trigger an anxiety attack, I would lose control of my breathing and many of my muscles. This awful experience sometimes lasted ten minutes, which may not seem like a long time, but when you are shaking and can’t catch your breath it can seem like an eternity. It’s physically exhausting and emotionally draining and when it’s over, I just want to sleep. Yes, I do still have anxiety attacks, but not often.
Through the whole experience, my fiancé, Brad Amerin, has stuck by my side. He proposed to me nearly a year ago, but we’ve been together for more than five years. He is one of the strongest people I know, and I’m very thankful to have him in my life. I am almost certain I wouldn’t be alive to share this story if not for his patience and love. I still feel guilty for my attitude toward him during the course of my illness, as he often took the heat from my anger, sadness and complete despair. Depression isn’t just harmful to the individual with the condition; it affects the people around that individual.
Brad is a very important person to me, but my family plays a big role in my life as well.
Before college, my health was less than perfect. I’m not angry at my parents, but I don’t think they wanted to believe the symptoms I was experiencing were anything more than a teenage phase. Additionally, they have never been fond of the idea of treating emotional irregularities with medication. I’m a junior in college now, and I currently have a prescription for Fluoxetine, an antidepressant. My mom and dad both now support my decision to take medication for my condition because they can see that it’s truly helping me.
Chronic fatigue, muscle pain, feelings of hopelessness, mood swings and a fairly consistent feeling of sickness are all symptoms I have experienced along with the headaches and other ailments. I managed to continue most of my daily activities while experiencing those issues, at least for awhile, but eventually it was just too much.
Considering the amount of time I spent suffering while still maintaining at least some level of balance, my decline was incredibly fast. To put it simply, this summer I felt worse than normal over a period of a few weeks leading up to my total breakdown. I felt so poorly that being at work, where I happen to really enjoy my job, was excruciating. Getting out of bed was a difficult task. Every aspect of my life had become a chore. Even the activities I enjoy most, like photography, became less appealing. During this time, I could hardly even stand to pick up my camera even though taking photos is a huge part of my life. I felt like crying at any given moment even if nothing prompted it. I felt physically sick and could hardly stand to get dressed, brush my hair, or eat. I was dying.
I knew I was miserable, but until that one evening when I crawled into bed with no energy and plenty of pain, I hadn’t realized how close to death I really was.
I lay there wondering if I would wake again after I closed my eyes. In that moment, I finally began to understand that getting help was not only necessary, but it would also mean the difference between life and death. When I did wake later that evening, I cried and begged my fiancé to take me to the doctor. He was ecstatic that I was finally accepting help. He called to make me an appointment the next morning and I saw the doctor at the end of the week. I was nervous about the visit, but I knew it had to be done. I spoke with the doctor for what seemed like a very long time, and she listened. I revealed everything I could think of, trying not to cry but failing, and she made me feel safe. She prescribed an antidepressant but told me it could take several weeks for me to notice any changes, and that even then, it may not be the right one for me.
It didn’t take several weeks for me to begin noticing positive changes. As soon as I left the doctor’s office I began to feel a spark of something good within myself. Just taking that first step to recovery made a huge difference. I acknowledged that I had been incredibly ill and understood that I was making the choice to get better.
I have been taking my medication for a little over four months now, and that, along with my own positive thinking and support from the people that care about me is making me a little better every day.
I sometimes still struggle with hints of my depression, but I can honestly say I’m getting somewhere.
I hope my story will inspire someone else dealing with depression. Seek help. Everyone wants to believe they can handle their own struggles. Some people seem to make negative judgments about those who use medication or need assistance for such situations. It makes us feel weak if we can’t figure out solutions to our own problems. I couldn’t figure it out on my own, and I couldn’t handle it anymore, but I am not weak.
My name is Kylea Copeland, and I’m not dying anymore.