mostly edited, structured pieces of writing (in the process of migrating from Medium)

I have only begun to learn how to live.

on what it is like to live after years of not being alive

Once in a while, I wake up disoriented. I look at my surroundings, and it is almost startling to remember not only where I am, but the person I have become. It still feels surreal, remembering the contrasts.

It has only been three years.

I was chronically depressed, insomniac and suicidal. People don’t understand why other people take their lives. It is when we look ahead and we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. We only see more days of enduring hopelessness and pain. The thought of longevity scares us.

The pain blinds. It becomes so overwhelming that we are convinced that our deaths will be a relief not only to us, but for our loved ones who have to cope with our perpetual darkness and tears.

I can probably write a million words, on how it had felt like to wake up every day wishing that I was dead. The guilt exacerbates. Yes, we know how many people are out there wishing for more days to live, and yet here we are wishing death upon ourselves. No, it doesn’t make us want to live more. It just becomes more unbearable. All that weight. Our lives no longer becomes ours, but they belong to those who wants us to live. For them.

For them. I didn’t love myself, but there are people whom I love. I desperately wanted my life to end, but I knew how much it would hurt the people who loved me, despite all my flaws and darkness. Each time I came close, I would see their broken faces.

For now, I am glad I hung on. For them. I honestly do not know if I would ever feel that paralyzing pain and desire to end my life again. But because I hung on just for a little bit more, I managed to live on a little while longer to to finally understand what it means to live, why I have to live, and why I should want to live.

That is another story for another day. I am still learning to tell my story. To tell it in such a way that I can be deeply aware about my luck, privilege and survivorship bias. That I remain sensitive to those who are still struggling, still unable to see any fragment of light. The ones where every single day of life remains a painful choice for them.

It remains part of reality that I cannot really be an example to them, to tell them that I am a living example of surviving life-long depression, that they too, can live a life that thrives. Like me now.

Sorry, I am not confident of saying that to them. I understand my survival depended heavily on my privilege to meet several amazing people who took leaps of faith on me, on an industry that despite all its problems, still remains one of the most open and empowering, and that I wasn’t in a situation that restricted my mobility.

I wish to tell them that the world will be compassionate for them, that if they tried, things are guaranteed to get better, but I can’t. I can’t tell them that the world will be empathetic and forgiving, because it is not always. Neither can I tell them that the world now understands that depression is neurological — that the brain gets fucking exhausted too, and that the world will stop seeing them as weak so let’s stop seeing ourselves as weak.

I can only work really hard to be part of those who want to build a world that may be worth trying to live in, one that doesn’t cause so much pain, one that tries to be just. One that looks really hard at what is causing so many of her people to be depressed, rather than just forming uninformed biases about them. I have no confidence in the world today, but I can try to work towards one where I can be confident of, tomorrow.

It has been three years, and it is easy to forget where I came from and who I was. There is one emotion that is worse than sadness, and that is the incapacity to feel anything. That your eyes are so dried out from all those tears and your brain is so tired from your misfiring neurons that you just feel nothing. A pain that is no longer emotional but comes from a place nobody can touch. You know you are gradually dying inside, and it is just a matter of time.

Being able to wake up and think about the things I care about and want to work on, is a privilege. I get reminded of this over and over again each time I recall my old self who could not even find the strength to live, much less think or have the cognitive ability to reach for self-empowerment.

For three decades I didn’t believe I could be any different — resigned to a life filled with pain and self-detestation — but time and chance have both proven me wrong. If my most stubborn belief was gradually disintegrated, then in my eyes, then perhaps, anything has the possibility of change.

That, must be a good way to live.

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