Population us

Sydney Walther, Editor-in-Chief

My walls are grey. My bedspread is grey. My picture frames are grey. Everything in my room is grey, a constant reminder of where I live: the grey area. Suicidal thoughts are thought to be divided by a very thin line, entirely a black and white topic. Black: I want to kill myself. White: I want to live. But what some don’t understand is that fine line is outlined in grey. That’s where I live.

It is going to be hard for me to explain how some people feel, how I used to feel. But this is the best I can sum it up: I don’t want to die, not even close, but existing is just a little too hard right now. And I know some people might say that’s no way out, but for some, they’re so far gone they THINK that’s their only way out. They’re wrong. I was wrong. We’re wrong.

I’ve had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid. The first strong memory I have was of me sitting in my bathroom at 2am. Tears streaming down my puffy, blushed face, a blank stare into the mirror, and a bottle of pills traced by my fingers. Could I tell you why I felt this way? No. Could I tell you why when I’m on a late night drive alone I imagine what it would be like if I crossed through that guardrail, ran that red light or what would happen if I simply ceased to exist? No, no and no. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with emptiness, voids, oblivion, you name it. Sometimes I wanted to fill the emptiness, suppress any thoughts of letting it carry me with it. I wanted to frighten it, instead of letting its dark nothingness flood over me with no hopes of swimming. But other times, I longed for the tide of nothingness to take me away. I longed to be vanished and erased.

It’s a confusing feeling. It’s a scary feeling. And sometimes it isn’t a feeling at all. When the depression takes over, I’m not in control. I’m on autopilot, and watching my life from the outside is like watching a slow motion plane crash. Every self-deprecating thought, every single person and moment that hurt you, every bad thing you’ve ever said comes back in like a tidal wave. It outruns you, it reaches you, and it pulls you under. I feel like I’m suffocating and I only come up to breathe when I can’t fight anymore.

The scariest part is you never know when or why these thoughts come up again. Some days you’re just so happy and think, “this is why I stayed” and others you’re hanging on by your fingertips and you’re thinking you’d be better off dead. And in my mind, I know this simply isn’t true and I wish I could just turn it off but I can’t, and trust me I try.

And then, it stops. The water is calm, the waves recede, and the sun comes out for another day. But when you least expect it, you see the next wave on the horizon and you know you can’t outrun it.

At this point, y’all are probably like, “Syd, hunny, you should get some help.” Don’t worry, I have it and through it, I’ve learned that the grey area, population Syd, isn’t lonely after all.

It didn’t make any sense to me, how could I spend so much time thinking about being dead without actually wanting to die? So to everyone who feels this way, and those trying to understand someone who does, stop thinking in black and white, think grey. You aren’t alone. I’m not alone. We’re not alone.

For YEARS, I thought I was the only one who had a contradiction with what it means to be alive. But, through the expansion of thoughts and my (un)willingness to seek help, I now see life in color. Grey hues explore the edges of the colors, but they’re there nonetheless.

My biggest mistake was never telling anyone these thoughts for fear they would be disappointed or freak out and send me somewhere with white walls and overly cautious nurses. Instead, I found a safe place, with colorful walls and people who wouldn’t sugarcoat my faults, but accepted me and my mind. I will forever be grateful for my incredible parents, brothers and those few friends who pulled me out of the water and pushed me (against my will) to get help and continue to support me. I was wrong, I was never alone. The nothingness wanted me to think I was; it knew what it was doing, even when I didn’t. Finding an outlet was the best decision I never made.

Writing this was just what I needed to face the darkness and show it some light. And I’m not saying that every day will be a white day, sometimes the grey gets a little blacker. But, with hard work, the only black will be your shadow in the light.

I beg you to PLEASE find a way to keep seeing the lighter shades. Exercise, pray, write, sleep, talk, do whatever it takes to make you stay above that line. I know. You think this is okay because you’ll never act on it, but it’s not. I felt that, and now I know that’s not how I’m supposed to feel. Facing it sucks, but it’s worth it. It helps. Your feelings are real, you’re NOT crazy. I’m not crazy. WE aren’t crazy.

This isn’t normal, but it’s not uncommon either. The grey area isn’t population you, it’s population us.