Trigger warning: suicide, depression, self harm.
By any normal definition not dying before you hit the age of 18 is an incredibly good thing. But nonfiction doesn’t care for a neat definition. When you have depression and suicidal tendencies from a young age, you kind of assume that you will die before you turn 18. It brings you a weird sense of freedom. Everyone is making friends, getting experience, getting good grades and worrying about the future. You however do no such thing. You’ll get good grades-ish. And have friends-ish. But whenever the future comes up you just go “Oh, I’ll be dead by then,” and gloss over the finer details. You live for the now in every sense.
This is when things get a bit strange. You’ll not actually bother with preparing for Uni. You will take exams in topics that relatively interest you, not ones that will be useful. You will always choose the path of least resistance. When you have to choose a course to study at Uni you choose one that fits your final exams, the night before the deadline.
And then you don’t commit suicide. Your life becomes very ‘Alice in Wonderland’ after that.
You finish your final exams (which you never really studied for), you graduate high school (never thought you’d make it that far), and suddenly you are off to a Uni that wanted you. Nothing will seem real. This is when you start to disconnect from everything that happens to you. You feel like a passenger on a train. You have no control.
Uni is strange. Everyone is excited to be there, and some people spent 3 years choosing precisely which one they want to go to (you googled the course and city name you wanted and applied to the first hit). Everyone has a concrete idea of what they want to be and some have the experience to go with it. When someone asks you what you wanted to be when you are young, the only real answer is dead. You will feel like an imposter. You feel bad when you don’t get the best grades but since you are technically not supposed to to be alive you never put in more effort. You feel like a dead girl walking.
Suicide becomes your security blanket and also the annoying relative you avoid at family gatherings. Suicide will be your plan B if things end up going wrong. But your mind will also try to talk you into killing yourself when you are enjoying life. You’ll be sitting laughing with friends and think “Well this is nice,” and your mind will chime in with “Yeah, you know what would also be nice? Being dead. Like right now.”
I want to say it gets better. I know I needed to hear that when I was younger. But the fine print is that you never get rid of a mental health issue. You learn to deal with it. And I guess in that sense it does get a bit better. You will still have the razors hidden somewhere. But you will learn to talk yourself out of self harm. Sometimes you won’t even get out of bed, just roll over and go to sleep. Other nights will find you sitting in the bathroom at night, watching the light glint on the blade. When you come out after 3 hours you will feel drained; but your unmarred skin makes you proud the next morning.
The certainty of suicide never truly goes away. But it does morph from 100% to 98, then 95, and maybe even 80%. You will sometimes stare at the water below a bridge for a bit too long. Or just consider throwing yourself in front of the tube. One night you might even beg a friend not to leave you alone because you know for a fact that if they did you would kill yourself that night.
The fear is good. You never had that before. Over time you learn to live with it. You will make plans for the long term, even years ahead, something you never did before, cause hey, you won’t make it that far. But you did. And you will.
One day when you hear that someone threw themselves on the tube tracks you will be horrified. “How could anyone do that to themselves?!” You won’t find it ironic till late that night.
One day you no longer feel like an unwilling passenger in your life.
Kinga Mojzes is studying International Relations at King’s College London.
Hey, my name is Kinga and I’m a third year IR student. I have had and still have a peculiar cocktail of mental problems, which I won’t go into great detail here. However, I do believe that mental illnesses are not something to be ashamed about. I know that nothing fed my illness when I was younger than the persisting feeling of solitude. So I hope that if you recognise your feelings in my writing you will know that you are not alone.