4 am thoughts: my depression and birds singing.

TW: depression, suicidal thoughts & SH

I spent several years, when my depression was at its worst, barely sleeping. Maybe I’d get one or two hours a night. I always had school the next morning, and I always went in. I’d lay in bed, sobbing silently or attacking my skin, for hours. At this point it was still small stuff – nail marks and scissor lines. I hadn’t discovered that there were better ways yet, stronger ways for the stronger pain. In some ways I was still very much innocent. Eventually I would run out of tears and grow too tired to move and just lay there. Like I was frozen to that spot, to that moment in time, to that numbness which was the only kind of serenity I ever got. The rest of life was a blur. A painful torturous blur of hate and hurt and furious emotion that wanted to eat me from the inside out. But in that moment, when I was just too exhausted to do anything but lay there… I was numb. The pain was below the surface then. Sleeping was an escape from the nightmare that had become my everyday reality, but I couldn’t sleep. This was the only escape: just being numb.
A few hours later I would hear them: birds singing. Nothing much, just a blackbird or some finches. Sounds which I’d recognised since I was a baby. I’d hear the birds outside and feel the cool morning breeze drift through my window and onto my burning skin. It was like the tap rushing water onto my cuts; that sensation of calm after a storm. With those sounds and that feeling, I knew another day had come and it was a fresh start. Not a start to try again or fix myself… I was beyond that. I didn’t want to be fixed, I couldn’t be fixed. But it was a fresh start nonetheless. It was like a minor break in the clouds just for those few hours where I could feel the air and hear the birds.

In the following years it remained much the same. Except by five years in it was slightly different: I would lay there, gripping the sheets or clawing at my hair; white-knuckling it ’til morning. I wouldn’t give in to the urges that coursed through my veins stronger than the blood that needed to get out of them. I wouldn’t give in and get out that razor from the hidden place. I would stare at the books on my shelf, as though I could see right through them, and right through that box, and see the glinting blade just lying there waiting for me. I would see it, but I wouldn’t give in. Those were the years that my true strength; my utter stubbornness really found itself. I didn’t stop hurting myself because I thought I deserved to be happy, or because I didn’t deserve the pain, or because I didn’t like the pain anymore… I stopped because I decided I was going to. Just like that, one day, I decided to stop and I did. Not for any great, profound reason, but just because. Maybe for her – a little bit for her. For her I just stopped. I think I thought I didn’t deserve it anymore. I didn’t deserve that relief that it gave me. I think I thought I had to suffer through it. I had to feel it, because that was truly how much I deserved it.

The nights were the same amount of anguish and loathing. Every night was another journey of numbness. Of struggling and silent screaming and clutching at the bed just to stop myself from breaking down what I’d ‘achieved’. Even though I didn’t care if I broke that night because I was already broken and how much more smashed can something be when it is already dust? When it isn’t even the skeleton of what it once was, when it is just empty remains that aren’t even remains anymore. But I didn’t do it.

And just the same as before, every night I would hear the birds. At about two-thirty they’d start. I could identify them all. I still slept with my window open and eventually, unmistakably, every night for seven years, the birds would start singing. I’d feel the cold morning air float through my window and onto my arms and I’d listen to the birds singing. It was like a sign that a new day had come, a fresh start like dew on the grass. However terrible the day was, whatever awful thoughts I had and whatever appalling things I did… The birds would always start singing and I would always breathe in the fresh air and know that there was a new start. Even when I knew that that start would end up the same way as all the rest. It was new. There was a glimmer, a chance.

All that got me through those seven years was the chance that one day it might be better. Even when I did give up and even those I can’t-remember-how-many times I tried to end everything, I still knew there was a chance. Sometimes that chance for things to be better was the chance I would succeed, and be free. Sometimes that chance was living. But there was always that chance. Because the birds always started singing again, just the same, for seven years of my hell.

And now the seven years are gone and it’s been three years since I last bled, and I’m alone and broken and beaten. But I’m here. I have cracks and scars and bruises that just won’t go away; I have urges and wishes and desires I hardly can admit to myself… But I am here. And I am lying in bed at university in the middle of a city I love. I’m not lying in my little room in the middle of the countryside surrounded by heath and forest. I’m not that scared little girl anymore. I’m still scared, and I’m still trying to fix what the world did to me and now I’m trying to fix what she did to me too… I’m trying to fix it all. But being fixed is not impossible now. Nor is it necessary. I am me, whether I am broken and scratched, or whole and smiling. I am me, and I am alive.

I am lying in bed and I’m still sleeping so very badly every night, and a lot of the time I still wish I had succeeded one of those times. I still wish it every single day and it’s still on my mind all the time. I still have those feelings and I think that I will always greet them like old friends because they were there for me when I thought no one else was. But I’m in a city and it’s three am and I can hear the birds singing outside my window. I can feel a shift of cold morning air on my arms as I write this and I know another new start has come.

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