In 2012 I found myself going through an existential life crisis. This crisis developed into reverting into a reclusive nature, spending the majority of my hours indoors and lacking healthy or regular human contact.
A few more months passed by and before I realised the troubling lifestyle I had then developed an entire social anxiety and agoraphobia.
It felt like it happened nearly overnight, that one day I was simply enjoying playing video games in my bedroom (rather than doing the university work I was supposed to) and the next I can recall looking outside my bedroom window to see the constant motorway traffic whizzing by and feeling sheer terror at the thought of going outside to experience it.
Unsatisfactory life, unsatisfactory mind
In hindsight, it’s easier to see that this anxiety disorder that had developed wasn’t just an accident, but a result of a combination of poor life choices, lack of life satisfaction, troubling personal relationships and the typical life crisis of an early twenty-something.
It also grew over a much longer period than I had realised, as looking back and being able to remember significant depressive episodes whilst living in two different places and at two different courses during my higher education.
At the height of my anxiety disorder, I remember that I was a very isolated individual. I lived with a friend who I had become increasingly distanced from, as I began to feel that we didn’t quite match up as friends as I had imagined. During the time I also had an on-again, off-again romance that I had met during my days of student halls partying.
I was living away from my hometown and rarely saw my family and friends, working a job in a call centre that largely involved showing up amongst a sea of other people wearing headsets and listening to people complain about their unpaid bills for eight hours straight, then head back to my lonely apartment without having had much actual human interaction. I only went to university whenever I absolutely had to, not having built many good relationships there.
It’s easy to see now that my human interactions during this time were either broken, unhealthy or nonexistent.
It took a bunch of internet research and chatting to strangers in online forums to understand why my body was beginning to shake uncontrollably, why the constant pressure in my chest wasn’t just gas, and how I seemed to develop a character in my head that commented on my everyday activities that I affectionately named the gremlin.
Well, the last part may have been a dash of psychosis or temporary insanity, I’m still not sure to this day – but the rest was all down to one big anxiety disorder.
The road to recovery was long, and in some ways, I am still recovering, but this isn’t about the recovery. It’s about what it’s like to consider ending your life just to make the torment go away.
How the mind talks you into it
Many of us consider thoughts like ”I wonder what it would be like to run in front of that bus” as its a weird part of human nature as we ponder our own mortality. But there’s something of a sliding scale when it comes to suicidal thoughts, on one end of the scale you have the musing thought and on the other, you might be preparing your 10 reasons why.
What I experienced was somewhere in the middle. There wasn’t any point in which I was planning the act, like a predetermined and considered event but there was a consistent thought about the internal desire and infinite end to the pain I was experiencing.
I distinctly remember waiting for my train to pull in each morning that I had to pop into university and having the same thought:
”I could jump in front of this train and no one would be able to stop it”
Scary thought, right?
A solution where there was none
In honesty it became a bit of an obsession, it seemed like such a simple solution to such a complicated internal problem. It felt like if only most problems in life could be solved with just one simple choice, something that you actually have control over. That feeling of control gave me some resolve and strength in a sea of conflict and reaffirmed the desire.
Of course, I never went with the thought – otherwise, this would be one pretty spooky article.
The point of this is to try to explain how feeling entirely lost and without any sense of control over your situation can force the mind to look for a way out and when you have a mind that isn’t currently able to weigh up reasonable options then the big choice of life naturally comes into view as the ultimate solution.
But then as I came to terms with the disorder I had, I could reason with myself that what was happening to me was simply a chemical imbalance in my brain. An imbalance that needed balancing out, and that there were solutions to do that.
As a highly logical thinker, even in times of distress, I was able to logic my way out of the thoughts of suicide and instead decide on a different solution for myself with the help of medication and family support.
Eventually, I reached the end of my ability to self-diagnose and heal and simply reached out for help. To my doctor and my family. It turns out a lot can change when we just ask for a helping hand and see that there is a lot to live for.
If we were to choose to put a full stop on our existence then we’d never find or see all the incredible and positive experiences and people that will come into our lives. By just wondering the possibilities of our future and our own potential, we can begin to see that whilst there is endless possibilities of the bad, there is also endless possibilities of all the good.
It’s just out there waiting for us to find it and I for one am looking forward to finding each and every positive experience yet to come.