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
If you’re set in your ways and unwilling to consider any perspective beyond your own, you can stop reading.
If you want an unabashed look into the mind of someone with depression, and you think you might have room in your head for more knowledge and room in your heart for more understanding, I hope you’ll read on.
I’ll set the scene for you now:
I’m sitting at my desk at work, and though no one around me has any idea something is wrong, I’m terrified. My heart rate is elevated, my chest feels tight, and something I can only describe as an aching numbness creeps across my skin. I’m having an anxiety attack. My brain is telling me bad things. It’s encouraging me to harm myself.
According to a 2011 Reuters article, one in 12 teenagers self harm, and 10 percent continue to do so into young adulthood.
Self-harming can involve cutting, burning, carving or any number of actions meant to inflict injury to oneself.
I’m looking at the office supplies in front of me, and my brain is telling me it would feel good to stab my forearms with a pen or staple my fingertips. I know that sounds crazy, and in many ways, it is. But depression is not rational, and that numbness I spoke of? It’s worse than any pain I’ve ever felt.
Throughout my teenage years and into adulthood, I have heard many people scoff at victims of self-harm, dismissing them as attention-seekers. For some, that may indeed be the objective. For many however, it’s a coping mechanism. As for me, though I have the awareness and self-control to avoid self-harming most of the time, the concept poses as a mode of sensory relief.
I’m fighting the urge to self-harm and instead frantically (well, it only feels frantic, because my appearance and actions are calm and normal) texting people I trust so they can distract me and bring me back to reality. Eventually, I do start to feel calmer, but not in a healthy way. After coming down from the height of my anxiety attack, I am physically and mentally exhausted. I’m nearly defeated. I want to die.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In 2013, someone in America died by suicide every 12.9 minutes.
There is a stigma attached to suicide, particularly in cases involving depression. The opinion I seem to come across most often is that those who commit suicide are selfish. Let me clear this up right now.
I sometimes find death to be an appealing notion when depression hits me particularly hard. I will be the first to admit that I have been tempted on numerous occasions to end my life. My suffering would cease. The chronic fatigue, overwhelming anxiety, mood swings, hopelessness, all that would disappear.
Depression causes its victims to think irrationally and feel hopeless and helpless. It can be argued that such thoughts are selfish in nature, but as someone who has experienced the illogical, tumultuous thinking caused by depression, I can say with certainty that there is more to suicide than a selfish desire to end one’s own suffering.
I want to die, to end my suffering and be rid of the struggle that is my life. But more than that, much more… I want to relieve the world and all those I love of a burden. Me. The lies my chemically imbalanced brain tell me cause me to begin to believe that everyone would be much better off without me. I start to try to rationalize taking my own life by considering all the ways I am a burden to society, economically, physically, emotionally and more.
Thankfully, I am aware and stable enough to eventually identify these episodes and understand that they are only that. Sadly, there are countless individuals who will succumb to their depression and end their lives. It is likely that, as you read this, someone is dying by suicide.
Suicidal thoughts and attempts are serious cries for help. If someone you know is exhibiting any signs they may be considering suicide, don’t be silent. The Mayo Clinic lists the following suicide warning signs and suicidal thoughts:
Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there’s no other logical explanation for doing this
Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
I’m not asking you to understand depression. Truthfully, I don’t know that anyone can understand it until they’ve experienced it firsthand. I am asking you to be compassionate, and remove your own selfish feelings from the equation. Let’s end the stigmas.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Also visit these other links for more helpful information: