Here’s something I didn’t anticipate when I decided it was time to check myself into the hospital for suicidal thoughts last Thursday: how many people I would have to tell this to in the first half hour of arriving. Because I am who I am, this was an immediate source of anxiety—how to phrase it, what I should sound like when I said it, whether or not this whole thing was a dumb, stupid mistake. Checking in: Why are you here? I’m having suicidal thoughts. Second check-in: Why are you here? I’m worried I might hurt myself. With the first nurse, second nurse, first resident, her advisor: I’m depressed, I’m suicidal, I’ve been this way for a very long time, and I would like it to stop please.
So: I could kill myself or I could go to the hospital. I went to the hospital.
If I learned anything this past week it’s that I need to say the word. There is a certain safety in talking about depression, and certainly I’ve done plenty of that. But suicide is different. Writing it right now feels different. Admitting to having suicidal thoughts feels like admitting a fundamental problem in myself and my life. To be clear: I love my life. Depression didn’t let me access that love. Suicidal thinking, looping and looping, didn’t let me access my life. I’m speaking openly about it now because having been forced to say it out loud over and over again — something I’d never done; any of my talk or writing about suicide was about how it was a phase of my past — broke that loop. It’s so easy to normalize the idea when you keep it to yourself, flatten its sharp edges over time and repetition, make it seem possible, which quickly becomes probable.
I told the therapist working with me that on Thursday, I’d started the day by blowing off my reiki appointment. And then ignoring a deadline. And then when it came time to get ready for work, the weight of it seemed unwieldy. So: I could kill myself or I could go to the hospital. I went to the hospital.
“That must have been terrifying,” she said. “To really believe those were your only options.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way, and the words clicked into place. I’d thought about it as a weakness at worst, a rational decision at best. But both of those options came from me, and both were terrifying. To see no other choice! I hope I’m never there again. I hope none of you find yourselves there, either.
So I’m home after six of the most boring, rehabilitating, indescribable days of my life, feeling like myself again, and ready to talk about it. You’ve gotta deflate that depression bubble so it doesn’t consume everything. It loves to gobble everything up. I’m so lucky to have people who love me, and I’m trying to let them support me. Trying to believe it’s not a burden. Trying to support them right back.
Arianna Rebolini lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two perfect rescue cats. Her debut novel, PUBLIC RELATIONS, was released in May.