Please be advised that this post discusses suicidal thoughts.
The night-time was the worst part of the day for me during my deep depression. The activities of the day no longer distracted me from my thoughts, and I was exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep (fatigue and either insomnia or oversleeping are two of the common symptoms of depression). During that summer of descending into the deep pit of depression, I started suffering through many long, agonizing nights.
I have never been a night person. Even as a teenager, for example, I wasn’t always enthusiastic about youth group trips to city because I knew that meant being up until one in the morning, three hours past my usual bedtime. I would sleep in the van on the way home, unconcerned about the possibility that might be uncool. Staying up until midnight or two in the morning might be normal for some people, but not for me. Midnight is the separation between today and tomorrow, and staying up all the way until tomorrow is too late.
However, starting that summer, being up past midnight became the frustrating normal. I was worried about camping with my family for a week in July because my sleep schedule was off, so I would be extra tired and I also wouldn’t want to walk around or turn a light on in the trailer if I were awake. That, combined with my low mood, made me wary about family time I would normally look forward to.
I was unhappily awake later and later in August, until one in the morning, then later in the month not falling asleep until two, then three. The time went by so slowly. The days were often already long, and when I couldn’t sleep at night, half an hour felt like four hours.
The exhaustion I regularly felt in my whole body was amplified at night. I could feel an ache or tension in my abdomen persistently and a swell of something like dizziness when I moved.
The problem of sleeplessness was compounded by an increase in restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS had previously been an infrequent inconvenience for me. Now, this too had become usual and was especially irritating. I longed to sleep, but I couldn’t even stay lying down. I had to keep getting up to stop the aggravating pulses and twitches in my legs. I would pace my room or tiredly stand with my head against the wall, frustrated and drained.
With the end of daytime responsibilities that took some of my attention, I focused more exclusively on how dreadful I felt and on suicidal thoughts. Music and spider solitaire weren’t enough to distract or ease my mind and I didn’t have the energy, concentration, or desire to engage in much else at night. As I slept less throughout the summer, I thought suicidal thoughts more. I thought prolonged suicidal thoughts and contemplated suicide methods, accompanied with images in my mind.
This felt like a logical response to my circumstances. I was in the deep pit of depression and the nights were especially unbearable. The nights were when I was most weary in body and in spirit, when I was alone, when each minute dragged on, and when I had nothing but the pain to focus on. That was when I wondered how the suicide rate wasn’t higher. That was when it didn’t seem possible keep living this way.
Suicide is terrible and tragic. It can be hard to talk about. It can be frightening to hear about. I am not encouraging suicidal ideation as a solution or trying to shock and harm with my words. I am sharing a part of my story, showing what depression can be like. This is one very real and serious part of my story that should not be left out. Talking about suicide can be difficult, but talking about these thoughts instead of hiding them can save lives. I am not the only person struggling with a mental illness who has been in this place. Thankfully, I also have other parts of my story that include difficult and ongoing healing. These parts of my story will come later.
Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line (24/7): 1-877-435-7170
Klinic Crisis Line (24/7): 1-888-322-3019
You do not have to be in immediate crisis to call these lines.
I agree that staying up all the way until tomorrow is too late at the best of times! So every night alone in the pain and darkness sounds agonizing. Sending you a big, squeezy (((hug))) for all you have been through, and all you are doing now to overcome the darkness. I am proud of you!!