Content Notice: This story contains references to Suicide.
That November morning, I barely slept. I faced the insurmountable task of meeting a deadline while incredibly depressed and suicidal. In the fall of 2018, I was a Ph.D. student in a humanities program in the Midwest, and I had been grappling with this depression for months. If I missed this deadline, I thought, it would be just another shameful mistake in a year full of mishaps and professional blunders. The idea of one more embarrassment, one more mistake that would cast doubt on my ability to be professional, was too much. I just might kill myself.
Before that morning, there were small fantasies, daydreams, imaginings of doing something “on accident” that would cause my death. My bipolar brain was operating like a highway, with each lane moving at varying stopping and starting speeds, complete with gridlock, accidents, pileups, speeding, road rage, and falling asleep at the wheel. My brain was busy and very exhausted, and this feeling was starting to seep into my body. I felt physical fatigue.
This looming deadline for revising my qualifying exams was another impending disaster; a tsunami of dread big enough to wash away the California shoreline I lived near.