Very recently, I hit rock bottom.
When I say rock bottom, I mean the lowest I've been in my life.
What got me there was a family member coming dangerously close to taking their own life. In response, I came ridiculously close to ending my own.
Let me explain what ridiculously means: For the first time in 35 years, I came to a conclusion as to how I would end my life.
I didn't know when I would do it, but in the moment, I felt it would be soon. I decided I would go ahead and update my will and start getting rid of any excess goods I had to lessen the burden on my survivors. Because I'm me, I suppose, I also came to the conclusion in the moment that I was not in a rational enough frame of mind to take action right then. I decided I would need to sleep on it and give myself a few days before I started the process.
You might think of me, what's happened in my life, what I've said about having a member of my family consider their own life and think, "Well, of course you hit rock bottom. Perfectly understandable." But as having had depression my entire life and having been through many other stressful situations, I myself was startled by finding the bottom. I was so startled that I struggled for a couple of weeks to get my head above water.
Fortunately, I already had a scheduled visit to a counselor because I've been feeling overwhelmed in general lately. Everything has felt immeasurably harder and I've been frustrated as to why. My conversation with my counselor involved a requirement to sign a contract that I wouldn't hurt myself.
Initially, I was angry:
"You can't take away my autonomy," I told her, "if I decide to take my life, that decision is mine and mine alone."
"Of course, it always is," she replied, "but the sum of it is that if you won't sign a contract, I have to call the police to take you to the hospital so you can be committed."
"Okay, let me think on that."
After a couple of minutes, she interrupted my thoughts with, "How would your children feel? There are still people that need you."
I became enraged, "But the whole point is that I don't have anything to live for. And I can't and won't live for anyone else anymore. I have to live for myself, but I have to find a reason why."
After I spoke it, I realized what I needed and was able to sign a contract, adding my own addendum that if I felt I was a threat to myself, I would take myself to the hospital. Over the next few days, I talked to those closest to me, letting them know what was there for me and telling them what I was searching for.
Finally, after a conversation with a friend I hadn't seen in almost a year, I realized what I was missing: My Purpose.
You see, when I was a child, as mentioned in A Promise to Myself, my sole purpose in life became turning 18. With all that was happening, I reasoned all I had to do was make it to age 18 and my life would be in my hands, to do with as I pleased. While I was still 18, I met my now ex-husband. On our first date, as he told me what his children had already been through in their very young lives, I discovered my next purpose: to ensure they reached adulthood feeling loved and cared for.
Well, guess what? My youngest turned 18 just over a month ago. This left me totally without purpose. Also, since he's a quite independent young man and has been for some time, I started feeling purposeless back in June or so. But it took this situation with the family member and then my own to realize that purpose was what I was missing.
I'm pleased to announce that I have already discovered my next purpose: To Love and Care for Myself. You've probably already noticed me working on this to some degree, but I feel it's time to own it. So I'm going to spend the next chunk of my life working on discovering what makes me happy individually and then obtaining it. I'm also working on falling in love with myself, loving myself the way I've always wished someone would love me.
I'm not sure how long it will take me to find this purpose fulfilled, but I do hope that I'm more aware next time, so I can find one soon after.
I can say this, at least: having the purpose of loving myself and making myself happy makes it so much easier to swim and not sink when major stress comes along.