Saving me from…me.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”

― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story


Have you ever just felt like you don’t know what’s going on anymore? Like you don’t care about anything anymore, like you’ve lost your motivations to do just about anything and you’re confused about your feelings and you can’t explain how you feel. You have that feeling of emptiness and the feeling that no one is there for you. That feeling that no one understands you anymore. And it seems like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore?
Yeah I get those feelings too.

I recently suffered a bit of a breakdown, where everything just suddenly got to me. Normally I can maintain a pretty good hold on my depression, almost to the point where I half convince myself that I’m cured. However recently, I found myself on a downward spiral. Unable to pick myself up, feeling lost, broken, betrayed and like a burden on my friends and family. Added with the special topping of stress at work, bills, getting in a car wreck on 10/02/14 which really kind a ruined my weekend. Then of course there’s that hurt, those missing pieces in my heart in the form of my mother as I wonder why she did all the things she’s done. I won’t lie, I don’t miss many of my mom’s family, but I do miss my brothers, even my older brother, in fact I miss them every day.


So I fell and it was out of desperation that I reached out via facebook asking for prayers, for support. Because in truth, I was a hair’s breadth away from taking my own life, to me, living just felt too painful. I felt like I was trapped in a burning building, with the flames slowly encroaching on me, making it unbearable, and driving me ever closer to that moment where I was honestly thinking that my best option was to jump, because at least then it’d be over.
It took me awhile to read over all the messages and comments people had sent me, offering me their shoulders to cry on and a friendly ear to listen to whatever it was weighing on my soul so heavily. IT helped. Talking with my dad helped a bit more. Going to church and being prayed for by the entire congregation as they all took turns embracing me helped even more. But I’m still trying to build myself back up, so I’m hoping that writing and telling you about it will help. Because truth is life can be a little hard sometimes.large
Truth is, sorrow, despair, loneliness, suicide, are all words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss. …Though their currents run through us all, in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of one’s life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls. As someone once said,
“Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.” Once you’ve leapt off that metaphorical
bridge, when you’ve reached the darkest depths of your inner ocean, just remember to keep kicking for the light at the surface and that’s what I’m trying to do. But sometimes we don’t’ have to jump at all; we just need to learn how to swim.

So if you want to know what depression is like, it’s like feeling like something inside of you if missing, or broken, you feel alone. My chest feels tighter and constricts, like a huge weight is pressing down oppressively on me, making it harder and harder for me to breathe. It’s like I’m trying to swim and keep my head above water while an anchor is tired to my feet and I just can’t catch my breath and I’m slowly losing strength. I don’t feel real, I don’t feel like I matter, that I’m not really living, like I’m just going through the motions.

I hate depression.
I hate those pity parties people throw whenever they have a dry spell, or go through a breakup, or experience one minor hiccup in an otherwise blessed life and then go on facebook, or twitter, or lamenting to their friends how “They’re so depressed.” When they’re not, they’re really not and it always comes off as “Hey look at me! Give me attention, I’m a little sad,” And this sucks for those of us who are really struggling, which causes people to tell us to nut up, man up, shut up and get over it. I admit, some people do want to throw a pity party for themselves, while the rest of us…we’re barely holding on and just want to crumble at someone’s feet as curl into a ball and just cry.

The pity parties make it harder for those of us who are really suffering to speak out. Because we fear those pity parties, we’re afraid you’ll think we’re just attention starved and we’ll get the same frustrated and annoyed responses those people sometimes get. So I kept my mouth shut, my head down, and I kept doing my best to just limp along. Sometimes, we withdraw and pull away from others, because we’re so consumed with the struggle, which often leads to suicidal thoughts or tendencies, which build and build, often leaving it to our friends and loved ones to pull us kicking and screaming back out into the light.

I hate when people joke about depression or suicide, it’s not really something to be taken lightly or to joke about and makes it harder to notice those who are crying out for help, the ones who need it the most.
Yeah having your heart broken sucks, but it’s hardly as debilitating as constantly thinking, or wanting you life to end, because you just feel miserable and alone. It’s more like you’ve forgotten your smile somewhere and no matter what you do, you just can’t find it, so you wear a false one and tell everyone you’re fine, when you’re really not.
Many of my long time readers and friends may remember when I spoke about trying to take my own life. But I survived and I half convinced myself that I survived for a reason, there had to be reason didn’t there? Doesn’t there have to be a reason? And in a strange way these questions I ask myself help keep me going. Maybe I’ll write something world changing that’ll spark that positive change we so desperately need into today’s world. Because I’ve always been a survivor and it helps to sometimes think that there is a plan for me, that I wasn’t this monumental, cosmic accident my mother and my depression lead me to believe. But still, it doesn’t make living any easier. I struggle and strain against the ores every day, searching for a reason to smile, looking for that connection, to feel loved and accepted. I do this every day and it does help whenever I’m in a relationship and find little texts on my phone letting me know she was thinking about me, or just to say hello.
So this is my voice and there may be many like it, but this one is mine and these are my words, and this time it’s for the mothers and daughters, the fathers, sons and friend and the sons of sons. We all have our own private battles we’re raging against, currents we’re struggling with, and loss we’re trying to come to terms with. Believe me, we’re trying to heal, but the healing leaves scars, scars on our hearts, minds and souls, wounds you’ll never see and we’re always too terrified to show.
The bullies and those like them have spent their life telling me I was and am a failure.
So time and again I wrapped my heart in a cast and I sign it, “They were wrong! Because they had to be wrong,”

My name is Joshua Cooper. I suffer from depression. It’s an ongoing process until I find peace. There are days when I think I’ll be okay, that everything will be alright, when I busy myself with my writing, or reading to help pass the time, when I’m surrounded by loving friends and family, when we’re all together and having fun. I find the secret to staying alive is staying busy. Going to the gym and doing my best to stay healthy, going on long runs to help clear my head. Having faith also helps and gives me someone to talk to for when it all feels to be crashing down around me. But still what works best is having good friends and family around, having good times, sharing in the laughter, the celebration and love of those closest to us. You see, love, laughter and good company are all enemies of depression.
One of the things I hate the most about depression, is how eventually most everybody at one point or another says, “I’ve had bad things happen to me too, get over it.”
Get over it.
Seriously, get over it? Like I somehow could just let go of all that pain, the fear, the rejection, the doubt, and just forget about it. Because believe me, if it were that easy, I would. I would open my hands and just let go. There is no just getting over it and we need something more than some advice you read one time off the back of a cereal box. What we need is to not feel alone, to be validated and have someone just hug us, to hold and say “Yeah, that sucks, I’m so sorry, but I still love and care about you.”
I hate when people think the thought of letting go and forgetting hadn’t occurred to me before, or realize I’ve been fighting tooth and nail just keep my heads above water. You just can’t compare your life to mine and say, “get over it,” or “stop it,” like the cure for depression can be found in the contents of a first aid kit, because trust me, I’ve looked, it’s not there.
I hate when others feel the need to compare their lives to mine and attempt to tell me how they were depressed, or sometimes get depressed and tell you how they pushed on, like it’s somehow meant to make me feel better. You can’t compare one life to another, you will never know the injustices I or anyone else has suffered, every situation is different, every battle personal, we are not legion, we are one. I am one, I am an individual, and my pain is real, not made up and not in my head. It’s mine, there’s so much I didn’t tell, so much I’ve never told. Things I struggle to tell people, because what happened to me feels unbelievable and I still hurt because of it. This loss, this pain, can’t be compartmentalized or filed away and when I sit down and tell you these things you’ll only ever be the outsider looking in. It’s like breaking a bone and having someone who’s never had a broken bone in their life telling you to just breathe and telling you it can’t hurt as badly as you’re making it out to be and comparing it to the time when they stubbed their toe. It’s not all relative, it’s not trying to recover from a broken heart, which I admit, that alone cuts deep and becomes a soul hurt. But having your heartbroken is more like a beautiful sadness that inspires poetry, growth, music and teaches us compassion. Everyone suffers from broken heart at least once and it should make you feel more alive because there was something in this life that actually made you feel this hurt.
For me, my depression began when I was still just a kid, it was shortly after my parents got a divorce and it didn’t take long for the hurt to begin. My mom would always go on and on, telling me that my dad didn’t really love or even want me, that he was just trying to win my affection so when I grew of age, I would choose to live with him instead of with her. All so that he could get out child support, and then he would always tell me the same thing about her. As a child, it wore on me, and in the end, it was my mother who was proven wrong, as it it was my father’s words which rang true, which still hurt. (To my dad’s credit, he did stop telling me these things about my mother when I told him how it was tearing me apart and explained she was always saying the same about him)
Worse I grew up with buckteeth, greasy, messy hair, warts, failing eyesight and a bad speech impediment. So school was bad enough and almost every day I would get teased and made fun of. But worse was coming home and having my older brother teasing me even more about my teeth, my speech and the warts on my left hand while mom would sit and laugh, while forbidding me to ever say anything in return, daring me to get upset. I would always try to ignore him at first, but he would never stop and I would eventually feel like a stick of TNT lit from both ends, so I would explode. I would say every hurtful thing that came to my lips, in attempt to show him just how much words could hurt. Of course I would always get in trouble, beaten and then grounded. I hated growing up in that house.
I hated family gatherings too, because like clockwork they too would always find something to tease me over, usually it was my speech, other times it would be looks, or how my eye would sometimes twitch whenever I ate, unless I really focused and concentrated on not doing it, (The result of one of my numerous beatings I received, sometimes by the hot wheels racetrack which forever altered my Christmas list, making me ask for more Nerf Toys) but some members of my family made my life a living hell with all their teasing. Of course whenever I would get visibly hurt, or upset, they would say that old stupid rhyme about sticks and stones, as if a broken bone would hurt more than names I was being called, unaware that I would be called them all, all the time, every day. . At home, at school, around and with them.

So I grew up believing that no one would ever fall in love with me, that I’d be alone forever, and would never feel like the sun was something someone had built for me in a tool shed. An ingrown life it seems is something that even the best surgeons can’t cutaway. Of course it never mattered how mad or upset I would get, they would all just laugh and tell me how I was being too sensitive, that it was all out of good fun, that they were only teasing. But there’s a fine line between harmless teasing and being just toxic and making me ganged up on.
One of the worst feelings in the world is that of everyone ganging up on you, watching you, laughing at you and feeling like you’re on your own. My own family made me feel like a broken branch grafted on a different family tree and would often wonder why I was struggling with depression and why so often I never felt like I belonged.
So I withdrew, I spoke less and less. I disappeared into books, my toys and video games and words, creating my own stories, because there, no one could make fun of me and I couldn’t see everyone smirking as they all sat and stared, trying to make me say, or do something they could all laugh at. I was eight years old, and I felt like a joke. But back then, I never knew what depression was, or that was something I had, but that’s when it started to fester and grow, when I started praying for death.
I would often wonder if anyone really loved or cared about me, since they would all treat me so poorly and always tell me how they loved me. . How can you believe in love when those who are always claiming to love you are always tearing you down and making you feel worthless, like you’re less than nothing and that your feelings don’t matter?
I hated my life, I hated my bad eyesight, the nose they mocked and ridiculed, I hated all the words I couldn’t say, wondering why no one could just let it go and leave me be, to let me be and let my words be just words and not another opportunity to make me practice and repeat until I got the pronunciation right. Which would be fine one on one, or in private, but having everyone crowd around you mocking you as you try and fail is a bit stress inducing. I mean didn’t they see I was struggling, spending years in speech therapy and spending hours and hours practicing how to roll my Rs and curl my tongue. It wasn’t my fault my mouth garbled all the words I was trying to say.

Public school, taught me that kids could be cruel. I’m not really sure about what grade I was in when the school halls became a battleground, where I found myself outnumbered day after retched day. practicing being invisible, giving no clues I was ever there, becoming like a ghost who roamed the school halls with my head down and doing my best to just shrink away and not be seen, staying inside for recess, because outside was worse. All I wanted was to fit in and to be accepted, to make everyone my friend, but only a few accepted.

No one understood I was juggling loneliness and depression while walking a tightrope with a noose around my neck, trying to dodge every cruel jibe and School soon became a game of just trying to get out alive….
For those of you who don’t know what it’s like living with depression, let me just say it’s like having this demon, this thing on your back that’s always there whispering things like,
“No one really likes you,”
“You’ll be alone and lonely forever,”
“Why are you even wasting your time talking to this girl, you know she’ll never like you,”
“You’re ugly,”
“You’re dumb,”

“You’re weak!”
“Everyone’s laughing at you,”
Sometimes it’s soft, and almost like a whisper in the back of your mind, and sometimes it shouting and screaming,
“You’ll always be weak and never accomplish anything, so why bother?”
“Hey listen, you’re a burden on everyone around you, you should just kill yourself.”
“Do you know no one will care if you die?”
“Your own mother didn’t even love you, so why would anyone else?”
“You’re just a big joke and everyone is making fun of you behind your back, you’d be better off dead.”
“You’re a loser, you’re stupid, and you’re nothing.” These are all the things that go through the head of someone with depression.


But I fight it and you have to fight it too, you have to believe that things will get better. Because depression….it’s a lie and that’s all it does, it lies to you and it will try its damnedest to make you feel like it’s the truth.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this, I’m still here, fighting the good fight, for these memories and others like them stem from giving away my todays and having no tomorrows. I love fully, forgive completely, speak softly, I’m slow to anger and above all else, I’m myself. Sometimes it does get hard for me, the bills, friendships, relationships, loneliness, the loss, pain, betrayal’s disappointments and the despair. With the worse knowing that most of my friends or family will never understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and support you just the way you are, because you’re wonderful just the way you are. Most people don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I can be so demanding and difficult for my friends because sometimes I just want to crumble and fall apart before them. Wanting them to love and want to be around me, even though I am no fun, lying in bed, feeling broken and alone, not moving.

My flags are traffic lights, and at night it glows red, amber and green, and I’ve seen them everywhere. So I guess in that sense, the road really is my home. And I’ve got story after story of what it’s like to miss a home-cooked meal, of what it’s like to wake up and feel that absence in your life.
Some days collapse on me like the night. I can tell I haven’t slept when a light peaks through the blinds and finds me with my eyes wide open, hoping I can take all these poems and stories I printed on post-it notes, fold them into tiny boats then launch them towards the shores past your defenses, taking root in your sea of your emotions, and to colonize in the chambers of your heart.
Because the days are getting better.
It helps to talk about it. To get it out, it’s like a pressure release but inside you.
I’m still looking for that person, whose kisses make me feel like I’m home and who’s there for me even when the days get bad and who’ll give me the sun that lives in their smile. I’m a hopeful, wistful, depressed, romantic, geeky, but athletic insomniac, that’s optimistic about tomorrow, looking for whatever reason to smile, even if it means I have to walk another mile. So listen to me when I say, you’re not alone, and remember it pays to talk about it and it’s okay to cry.