I am not one to necessarily believe in fate and synchronicity, although it would be inaccurate to say I believe in complete random chaos. My views lay somewhere in-between, where we control our lives but some things inevitably come into our lives.
I guess like asteroids colliding into a planet – not necessarily fated, but if they’re on the exact right trajectory, there they are colliding.
August 23rd has proven to be a very interesting day in my life since becoming an adult – I suppose maybe before, as well, although I have no way of knowing now.
August 23rd of 2012.
It was the day I did my first tarot reading on myself.
Tarot was something that I had long aspired to learn, but was fearful of because of my family’s experience and superstitions. But the “call” I suppose was always there, and when I finally found my deck, it was like slipping into an old book that I just needed refreshing on.
My identity as “witch” has not just been as a nerd obsessed with Harry Potter and dragons and myths of all kinds – it is a way of living and believing in the world, the energy of nature and one another, and the way that walking barefoot in the grass can heal a heart for a time.
I love being a “witch” even though I know others don’t know what I mean by that, and that others think of it as some millennial trend of tattoos and cool clothes and crystals. Okay, those too. But it’s more than that to me; it’s something I’ve felt since I was a child, loving being in nature and books more than enjoying music, or parties, or many people.
I know the truths in what I practice and feel the burden when I forget about them.
August 23rd that year was a beginning.
In 2014, it was an both an end, and a beginning.
August 23rd of 2014.
That was the day I tried to kill myself.
I don’t really know who knows anymore. I remember wanting to keep it secret, back then. I begged my parents not to tell anyone who didn’t absolutely need to know. I think I was trying to keep it secret from myself – from the part of me that used to walk on sunshine and find the glass half full no matter what.
For a long time, I blamed the anti-depressants I was on after recovering from shingles, and that I was “stupidly drinking; should’ve known better.” I blamed circumstance.
But the truth is, these feelings have always in some way been a part of me, and in the last four years I can’t say those feelings haven’t re-emerged. It would be a lie to say that I have not myself called the suicide hotline, or sat fighting the urge to grab a knife, or googled if the medicine in my cabinet could be lethal enough to do it.
To “do it right.”
I am in therapy. I sleep all of the time. I’m tired a lot. I don’t read or write as much as I used to. A lot of the things that used to bring me joy are just a frustration now.
Which is not to say I am not happy. I am.
I have a job I enjoy most of the time. Family and friends who love me even despite my flakiness. I smile every day, and laugh and crack jokes. I know there’s a future for me, even though I can’t see it.
But I am afflicted with depression. Sometimes that is the only person I am, and that’s okay. Sometimes that’s all I can handle.
But I know, eventually and maybe always deep-down, that I am more than that.
I’m reminded when someone reaches out to talk about what they’re going through, knowing I’ll try to listen.
I’m reminded when, surprisingly to me, a friend reaches out even though I haven’t in ages.
I’m reminded when my eldest niece is too excited to see me since I rarely visit her, and makes me chase her forever from the living room to the playroom.
I’m reminded in the rare instances I can sit and work on the novel I love, or finish a new book that I’ve been meaning to finish for longer than I can recall.
I’m reminded sometimes just when I’m walking outside and see a cardinal fluttering through the trees.
I was reminded three years ago, when exactly a year to the day my grandmother was buried.
August 23rd of 2015.
I remember sitting at her funeral, happy that her suffering was over, and sad that the woman I loved was gone.
And I realized at some point during the service, when I pulled out my planner to look at something, that it was the one year anniversary of my attempt.
I was shocked. What was the chance? 1 in 365, or 1 in 366 on a leap year if we’re being technical. But really, what was the chance?
I looked around at the room we were in, at the people who loved my grandmother. My cousins, who I grew up with, my parents and aunts and uncles. Friends of my grandmother I had never met, Relatives I hardly or barely or casually knew.
And I saw the type of goodbye that we can only hope to have – a room full of loved ones. Grieving, yes. But loved ones who had loved my grandmother so much that they were weeping not because of tragedy, but because they had loved her so much that they would have to learn to live their lives without her. Where the words they were saying were not whispers of “who even knew she was so sad? Do you know why she did it?” but rather just stories of her that I had never heard and memories of her that thrilled me.
That year, it was a reminder of the life I know I want to live – one where I make loved ones and give them fond memories of me, and where I die old, surrounded by love.
This day, August 23rd isn’t always significant.
August 23rd of 2018.
I don’t know what today is.
This year it was a day I went to work, recovering from bronchitis. It’s a day where I thought I lost my headphones only to find them later on. It’s a day where I looked up to see my crazy ferret, Yuffie, on the window ledge outside, while I was writing this.
But maybe it’s significant because it’s the first year I’m truly not afraid to post this – not just to my website, but also on my personal Facebook page. I’ve thought about it in years past, and was filled with fear and shame. Shame that others would judge me, and think less of me. The girl who was hailed to be “bright, and so full of potential” in her youth–now a cliche. The girl with the tattoos, and the dark lipstick, who wears all black and hoards animals –of course she’s the type.
Fear. Fear that people would see me differently. Fear that I would lose friends and loved ones who maybe didn’t know for certain why I was in the psychiatric ward four years ago – before some even knew me, and after many had known me all my life.
So this day, August 23rd of 2018 is a day of speaking up.
It’s a day of “coming out” of the mental illness closet full-fledged.
Well, mostly unafraid.
Because one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that what I am going through is not unique. Many people, many reading this, knows what it feels like to seriously fear that they may take their own life. Many reading this are worried about their loved ones who go through this.
And it’s okay. It’s okay to be worried. It’s okay to be scared.
It’s okay not to be okay.
But there is hope.
Because a bad day today doesn’t mean a bad day tomorrow. A bad week, doesn’t mean a bad year. A bad year doesn’t mean a bad life.
And a day called August 23rd doesn’t mean anything at all. It is a day like any other day.
For now, it is this day.
If you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations do not hesitate to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 – I’ve reached out before, and while it won’t fix your life it may just save a life.
More importantly, seek help. Speak to someone you trust. I am the biggest advocate that therapists are the friends we all need even if it takes a while to find one that fits.