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It never goes away

I want to end my life. Nothing new here.

I’ve been saying that for as long as I can remember. Consequently, no one takes it seriously anymore. Even I don’t. My desire to die enters my mind at least three times a day, which means I have more than a thousand opportunities to act on it every year. Here’s another variable to the equation: I’ve had it ever since I was 16. It may sound worthy of applause. You’re a fighter, they’d say. But I hate it. I want it out of me. I want to live. But no matter how hard I try, it never goes away. Perhaps, until I do. That’s the temptation behind every mental illness, because it’s that difficult to live with. The only reason I’m still here is because I’m too much of a coward to act on it. Every time I picture myself jumping off of a building, I think of the massive amounts of pain I’d experience when I hit the pavement. Sure, it’s quick, but it’s a lot to go through. So, I continue to stay alive, hoping that someday I’d be given a reason to stay by choice. But when you’ve been down in the deep trenches for so long, you become accustomed to thinking that any sparkle of light you see is more like trickery than hope.

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When you do try to get out, you get bogged down by society with its endless stigma, stereotypes, and rejections, making you fall once more. There, you stay for a very long time, not knowing where to go or who to turn to. This state of mind never gets numb. It becomes much more increasingly painful as time passes by along with your unheard pleas for help. It’s only when you’re near the threshold of insanity that people realize you really need help. Oftentimes, it’s too late for other people. Luckily, my cries for help were heard and I got scheduled with a psychiatrist.

I remember being in the waiting room with my mother, trying to keep my head low. I was afraid that a familiar face would see me there and think of me as a failure. But part of me was relieved that I was one step closer to getting better. And I was right, I did feel better after months of therapy and medications. I was myself again. My family and I even had a celebration.

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But what I didn’t know was that once you’ve had a mental illness, the chances of it returning are much higher. So, even if I win against my relapse, it could go back again. It’s like an endless cycle, only getting worse over time.

I only became aware of this information several months later when the pandemic struck. All of a sudden, every bit of normalcy I had regained from therapy got turned upside down. The worst part is, I no longer have access to mental health services. And that’s scary for me because I know how insidious my mind could get. At any given point, my mind could convince me it’s okay to end my life, that I’m merely putting off the inevitable. I’m back to square one. And I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of waking up in the morning with no motivation to do anything but rest because my mind constantly exhausts me with negative thoughts. I’m tired of life always throwing obstacles my way when what I ask for is help. I’m tired of people showering me with stigma, prejudice, and insults. I’m tired of trying to win. Yet, even if I do win, I get sent back to the war I thought was over. And there’s no closure as to whether that’s the last one.

But despite how exhausting things can get, I still see bits and pieces of happiness. I see it when I’m talking over the phone with my friends, watching movies with my family, reading a good book, or even when I’m just looking outside my window while the rain patters on our roof. In these small moments, I’m reminded of some of the reasons why my life isn’t as bad as my mental illness tells me it is.

I know it sounds like I’m about to give this a happy ending, but I don’t know if I’ll even have one. The reality is, people do commit suicide. Some of us don’t get to live the life that we want no matter how hard we try. So I’m not going to be the person to tell you inspiring quotations or motivational speeches. None of those ever work. Trust me, I’ve read nearly all the self-help books I could lay my hands on, and I’m still my old self. The attempts merely made me feel as though I was incapable of ever feeling normal.

But while I’m still too much of a coward to end my life, I’ll keep going. I’ll keep finding reasons to stay alive. Today, I found a sense of normalcy by writing about my struggles. Later, I plan to watch a movie as a way to pat myself in the back for trying my best. Tomorrow, I’ll find another set of reasons. And the cycle will repeat until I get too old to properly function. That’s the happy ending I’m hoping for—that it didn’t become my choice to end my life. Because what I really mean when I say I want to end my life is that I want to live without my mental illness telling me that I never deserve it.

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If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).

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Alex Jasper G. Tan, 22, is a physics graduate from De La Salle University.

Visit inqyoungblood.com.ph

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TAGS: Alex Jasper G. Tan, Depression, Mental Health, Young Blood
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