Every time I come to this space, whether it be to write or edit a blog, approve or “like” comments, view stats or work on design, I think about the name of this blog:  “a thought before leaving” and wonder if it’s right.  And each time I think, “yep”, and move on.

But nowhere do I describe what it means to me.  So I thought it was about time I did.

When I first started this blog, in July of 2016, I was in the 12th month of a major depressive episode which also encompassed various levels of anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder & panic disorder).  I had been forced, 8 months earlier, to quit a job I not only loved, but had recently retrained for in a completely career shift, and I had become entirely agoraphobic. I was also, on some level, dealing daily with suicidal ideation.

I felt depressed, anxious, purposeless, worthless and, most of all, finished. The only two things that kept me from seeing suicide as an option were 1) a promise I made to someone not to take my life and 2) the knowledge that whatever method I would use to try to take my life was not 100% guaranteed.

And so each day I greeted the day with the thought “crap, I’m still here”.  It was only one of many thoughts, of course, but it is the one that is important to this story.

One day I thought “since I’m here anyhow, I might as well say something” and this blog was born.

It became a way for me to express myself – my thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, desires, rants, upsets – so that I could get them out of my head.  Many days I would write but not post.  Just the writing was enough (I was also hesitant to post due to perfectionism and shame). It helped me in moments where I either felt entirely alone, or I wasn’t able to really share with others (for whatever reason).

Most of all, it gave me an outlet when I’d have one or many (sometimes obsessive) thoughts about dying or suicide.  I would simply say to myself “let’s write that down” to either get out of my head, or find a purpose for those thoughts, before actively or passively wanting to die.

and so it was:  a thought before leaving my life/the world.

…and it shifted my focus from leaving to staying; so that I could exist another second, minute or day.

It’s become much more than that.

As the months have rolled on (I’m now in month 20 of this major depressive episode) and I’ve had various stages and levels of personal recovery, this blog (and my Facebook page and Twitter feed) have become the place where I express, examine and practice my feelings, thoughts, growth, recovery, labels, purpose, beliefs – in writing.

I have created fixed spaces for myself where I exist.  I take up space.  I push boundaries.  Sometimes to push against other people or the world, but mostly to claim my own space, and feel comfortable in it.  For so long I have lived in a world where I made myself invisible.  I suppressed.  I was quiet.  I  compressed my mind, emotions, body & spirit into a tidy box that was presentable; because somehow I needed to present a specific person to the world.  And I realized just how small I made my world – my self.

So now, not only do I think about the expression “leaving” (in “a thought before leaving”) as leaving the world behind – I also think of it as leaving my self behind.

I now come to this space to write and expand my world, so I can shift the focus from leaving to taking up space.

And so it remains; a thought before leaving the world and my self.