Clara Barnhurst

There are days when I just want to sleep. I’m tired, but I’m not sleepy on those days. I want to sleep because if I succeed in not dreaming, I can forget I’m alive. I’ll lie there, willing myself to stop. I’ll ask nobody in particular, ‘When can I go?’ I’ve had enough. I don’t want to be here anymore.

I have a lot of good people checking in to make sure I’m still here. They keep me distracted with words of encouragement, and it’s helpful. They remind me of the good things I’ve got coming up. Plans we have together. I like the sound of these things, but my affirmative responses to the reminders are silently accompanied with, ‘If I make it’.

I should be clear, I’m doing everything I can to stop myself from doing something I can’t undo. It’s a contradiction: I don’t want to be here, but I’m trying to stay. I don’t know why I’m trying to stay anymore, but I am. Maybe it’s because I care about the people around me. Maybe it’s because I do experience a lot of joy, even if I’m always in pain. I don’t know. Sometimes, the pain of living gets to be too much and my will to continue wanes. So far, the people around me have come through and kept me talking.

It’s a cliché, but talking does keep a person going. The interaction is what’s meaningful, not so much what is said. Keeping focused on other people and sharing small things about yourself, even if the subject of the talking is neutral. We always share, even if we don’t mean to.

So I endure. I plan, I chat to people. I look for that thing in me that makes me want to stay even though I don’t know why. I don’t want to be here, but I feel like I need to stay.

In past articles on this topic, I’ve discussed needs versus wants. It’s the crux of it, I think: I need to stay. I have things to do. I’ve got a bestie to go to Paris with, a fiancée to marry, an old friend to be a bridesmaid for. I have stories to tell, even if this condition makes it impossible to tell them. I have the ritual D&D game on the weekend with my brothers to restart. If I make it.


When the resolve collapses and it’s between the next text and the next pill, I feel I’ve let everyone down. We had plans, and I want to not wake up. We always think we have more time. That’s what I said to myself when my dad passed away. I wanted to come out that weekend, but I decided not to because I didn’t want to take the attention away from dad. But you always think you have more time. I thought I had more time with dad and I didn’t; I didn’t want to wake up alone having never taken that chance. So I came out and drew that attention away from him. I feel awful about it, even now. It was a crap time to come out, but it was the moment I had and I didn’t know if I would have that moment again.

‘I tried to kill myself,’ you think to yourself. Even if you didn’t take the pills. Even if they were just out in front of you and you were thinking that you’re gonna need a big glass of water for this, but you don’t get one because people keep texting. You feel like you need to reply, so you never get around to grabbing that glass of water or taking any pills. They’re just in front of you, waiting. It’s surreal. I tried to kill myself. I almost didn’t make it.

And of course, then you start to question your own resolve. You didn’t actually take them, so how do you know you would have? I know. You were able to get them out and take them to the bed, but not go get water - how do you know you weren’t just having a fantasy? It was real. Your friends probably never would have known what you were up to, you could have replied as you went downstairs to fill the glass. Yes, but they didn’t want me to do that.


It’s funny how we preserve our little habits even when we’re trying to stop being. Tear away all the little foil from the back of the blister pack. Don’t dent the blisters. Fix the ones you press too hard by accident. Line the pills up neatly. People are texting, better get back to them quickly. I’m not precious about people replying, but I always try to reply to everything immediately. I woke up with the empty pack squished under me and pills all over the bed. I took the time to push the blisters out before throwing it away. It’s a weird thing I like to do. I gathered the pills up and put them in a box for later. I need them for my blood pressure. I was late for work.

I try to explain that I just lost my grip. That Samaritans didn’t answer and I needed someone to talk to, to keep me here. I needed a voice. I got texts and that was enough that morning. People ask me why I didn’t tell them like I promised I would. I can’t say. I just did the only thing I could think to do: broadcast a need on social media and get the pills out. I want to go, but I need to stay. I needed help to stay. I was lucky to get some. I hope the people I didn’t tell aren’t too angry.

Depression makes everything conditional. I’ll finish my PhD proposal if I make it. I’ll meet up for a drink later if I make it. I’ll talk to you later if I make it. I’ll marry you if I make it. It’s not that I don’t want to do these things. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these things in life. It’s not even that these things aren’t enough to keep me alive. This stuff does keep me alive: I’m having a lot of fun. I just also want to die.

Things will get better. I’ll move in with my fiancée next month. I’ll feel safer coming home to her. I won’t wake up alone. That human connection is what keeps me here, and living with someone I love will keep that feeling going. If I make it. It’s only two weeks, so I probably will. Depression doesn’t let me have certainty, but this is as close as it gets.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

I’m still here too, grateful that a good psychiatrist and I were able to identify a med that has helped me so much.


Well written, I am glad you are still here and I look forward to reading your next post, if I am still here.

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