Encomium of My Love

 Peter Dylan Piccirillo: the love of my life, and the reason I’m still here. Sometimes I get so sidetracked by life that I forget how truly lucky I am to have someone love me so hard and unconditionally. He’s seen the side of me that no one else has ever seen. The side of me that felt so hopeless, I thought the only way out was to end my life. He’s seen me cry and panic about small things to everyone else but large things to me.  He’s found drafts of my suicide notes and he’s caught on to what seemed like an allusion to me ending my life. He’s cried with me when things got so hard that I literally could not get out of bed or when I had to force myself to be productive even though everything hurt. He’s dealt with the pain of me wanting so badly to die, and wondered why love wasn’t enough to save me from myself. He’s been depressed himself. I put him through all of this for the last two and a half years, yet he’s still here fighting for my happiness and the will to keep pushing through my depression. For that I’m eternally grateful. It makes me wish that I could’ve been a better girlfriend and do more with him and for him. But the truth is, I’ve been so ravaged by self-doubt that I know he could do better than me, yet the thought motivates me to be better. He says I’m all he ever needs; I’m his best friend. He wakes up at three in the morning and bombards me with kisses all over my face. I’m still trying to unlearn the idea that no one would ever accept me and that I was worthless, unwanted, and unloved.

It’s not easy being in a relationship with someone who suffers from major depressive disorder. Most of us experience depression at some point in our lives, but not everyone learns how to manage it. Not everyone has a great support system or an outlet to vent to. In most black communities, mental illness is overlooked or repressed. Mental illness as a whole is stigmatized and often seen as an excuse. He had the option to leave once things started to get rough. At that point we hadn’t even lived together yet. I’d started to show my true colors and expose my demons; my despair brought out the worst in me, and most times for no reason. We were still a “happy” couple, smiling, laughing, and enjoying each other. Even with my struggles, he made me feel like the I was the only girl in the world. There was never a day that went by where he wouldn’t tell me a million times that he loved me or how beautiful and smart he thought I was. I could vent to him about the same stupid shit over and over again, and he would still listen as if it was the first time. He took care of me emotionally, yet I still felt as if nothing could get better. It takes a special kind of person to be as patient as he was with me. He put me before anything else and refused to give up. These are all reasons that I know I have to do better and get this shit under control, not just for myself but for the one I love.

The past couple months were so hard. Every so often I have these moments of heightened uncertainty and sadness that nothing could shake me.  This past month I’d considered committing suicide by trying to swallow my remaining bottles of antidepressants and sleeping pills. I’d thought, multiple times, of driving directly into the wall of my school’s parking garage. I thought Peter deserved a better partner. I thought my niece, Zola, would grow up and hate me just as much as I hated myself. Deep down I knew this wasn’t reality. Around this same time last year, I’d created a substantial plan of how I’d die and wrote notes to everyone individually in my family.  I just didn’t think I could handle everything at once: full time school, two jobs, all the homework, all the stress about money, my insecurities, my obsession with how timely things needed to be, and my worrying about every possible thing. I put on a front that I no longer cared, but the truth was, I cared way too much. I’d made up scenarios in my head that I believed to be real. At one point, I didn’t allow myself to sleep because I didn’t think I deserved to sleep. Then I ended up oversleeping, making myself late to school and work for weeks straight. All in all, I needed serious help.

I discuss these things as if they were in the past, but honestly, it’s still my reality. I’m still struggling hard with my depression. I still think of ending it all. Self doubt still consumes me. I don’t want to die; I just want the pain to end. And he still there for me 100% of the time. I know a lot of my friends can relate; depression lives within many of us as terrifying as that is to know.

To Petey: I know I’ve put you through so much, and not once did you think about leaving me. I was diagnosed with depression when I was thirteen. It’s something I will always struggle with, but I know that if I want to be better, I have to really want it for myself. I know I can’t let myself continue deteriorating. I made the conscious decision to stop taking my meds a few months ago because I didn’t like who I was when I was on them. I had plenty of opportunities to see a therapist, but I didn’t think they could help me figure this shit out. I knew that if I did end my life, you’d be ruined and faced with thousands in debt and a broken heart. I knew all these things, and yet I was so determined to do it. I will always love you for sticking my side, which is why I promise to do anything and everything I can to be the best girlfriend to you and to be my best self for me. You are lit-er-ally the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m in debt to you for all that you’ve done and had to give up just so I could keep the small bit of sanity I had left.  One day, I want to be able to give you the world, and be your shoulder to cry on just as you did for me

I love you.