A Little Bit of Hope

In May 2012, I planned to kill myself. But at the last minute, I didn’t. You hear about these moments of clarity that seem so fictitious and ridiculous and too good to be true, but they actually exist.

On paper, nothing was “wrong” with my life. In fact, my life was pretty ideal to an outsider looking in. But my head? My head was in a dark, dark place, a place that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Depression is a silent killer. It eats away at your soul, bit-by-bit, until there’s nothing left except for the shell of what you used to be. It hurts. Some days, it’s a physical pain. Others, it’s the pain of simply knowing that you’re still stuck in the world, making the lives of those around you miserable. That day in May was one of the latter.

I’m not writing this post for pity, because I know that’s what some may be thinking. I know others may be rolling their eyes because they think posts like this are attention-seeking. That’s okay. I used to think the same thing about those who “suffered” from depression.

(By the way, I used quotation marks because once upon a time, I didn’t even believe depression was a legit thing. Funny how the universe sets us straight, huh?)

I’m not writing this to brag or seek attention, and I most definitely don’t want pity. In fact, I hesitated to publish this because I know some people will never look at me the same way again. I posted this for three reasons.

1)      Awareness for the ones who believe suicide victims are “selfish.” I can see the logic behind that statement. Those left behind after someone takes his/her own life are left with the questions, the grief, the suffering. But from an insider’s point-of-view, I can tell you this: The person who took their life likely suffered with grief every day up until their last moment.

2)      To let others know that they’re not alone. Up until I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I’d known that something wasn’t quite right. What I didn’t know was that, despite what I constantly told myself, I was not alone. There were others out there who didn’t believe anyone would care about what they were going through. There were others who thought the “light at the end of the tunnel” was a crock. To those people, please hear me loud and clear:

Your brain is lying to you.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are people who care. There are people who want to listen.

The Trevor Project

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

To Write Love on Her Arms

JK Rowling said, “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” The accuracy of that quote has me in tears. It also brings me to number three.

3)      To let others know that there’s a reason for your rock bottom. Because if you don’t go through the valleys, you’ll never truly understand the beauty at the top of the mountain.

Wordy Wednesday – A Light in the Darkness

Monday, September 10th, marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week. I recently blogged about my own struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. I’m lucky that I received the help I needed just in time. Some people aren’t so lucky.

From a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health:

Jean Ko, PhD and coauthors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, found that more than 1 in 10 women ages 18-44 years had a major depressive event during the previous year—representing about 1.2 million U.S. women—but more than half of those women did not receive a diagnosis of depression and nearly half did not receive any mental health treatment.

121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. 121 million. That number astounds me. And you know what’s even more staggering? 2 out of 3 people that suffer depression never seek treatment for it.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. Source

So, what can we do? Well, talking about it is one thing. So many people suffer in silence because there’s a sense of shame that tends to come with a diagnosis of mental illness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, though. Some people just need a little more help than others. When will we, as a society, realize that?

Another solution? Love. A simple, four letter word that can make all the difference. Love each other. Care for each other. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you see someone is struggling, help them.

Depression is a disease in which most people suffer in terrifying silence. In that silence, the brain has a chance to go into overdrive with feelings of guilt, of hate, of sadness. And if given enough time, those feelings can manifest into, “What can I do to make this go away?”

Remember that statistic? Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

A little bit of understanding, of love, of hope, goes a long way. If you can even spark the tiniest bit of hope in a person’s life, do it. The bullying has got to stop. The shaming of people with mental illnesses has got to stop.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, here are a few links that will hopefully help a little. To Write Love on Her Arms is a mission that I adore. I’d say the world can use a little more love, yes?

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

To Write Love on Her Arms: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Wordy Wednesday – I’m Okay. Really.

She’s the girl that has a huge smile on her face. She’s the one that laughs loudly – sometimes too loudly – at your jokes. She’s the person you go to when you have a bad day because, hey, she’s always in a great mood. She must have all the answers, right?

What you don’t realize is that, you don’t truly know this girl. If you did, you’d see that her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Her laugh is forced. She radiates optimism because she desperately wants others to have it, even if she doesn’t.

What you don’t realize is that she’s dying inside.

It sounds dramatic, maybe even too much so. But depression is a tricky thing, you see. Some people don’t even realize how depressed they are until it’s too late. I was almost one of those people.

A little over two years ago, I had a perfectly healthy, happy, bouncing baby boy. I had an amazing husband that worked his butt off to support our family. Everything in my life was perfect, except for me.

Postpartum depression hit me like a ton of bricks. The problem was that, I didn’t know what it was at the time. I was told I was experiencing “baby blues,” and that my issues were completely normal. I walked out of the doctor’s office baffled. It was normal to cry at the drop of a hat? It was normal to think that my baby hated me? It was normal to think that he and my husband would be better off without me?

So, I continued on with the daily routine. I kept a smile on my face, and when asked if I was okay, I’d respond with an automatic, “Just fine.” Let me tell you, keeping up an appearance when you’re slowly deteriorating inside is exhausting. I saved my tears for the shower. For when my husband went to work and the baby slept. I never let anyone see me cry, because I didn’t want to be more of a burden.

I lost weight. I’ve always been on the thin side, but at my lowest, I was under 100 pounds. It wasn’t that I was intentionally starving myself – I just had no desire to eat at all. I withdrew from my husband, and had little-to-no bonding with my son. There were times when things were looking up, of course. Those moments, while few and far between, were what kept me going. Looking back, those were the moments that kept me alive.

I was good at existing. Living? Not really.

I did this for two years, y’all. A few months ago, I was going through a “bright” phase. And then, one night, it was like a flip switched, and my world came crashing down. I curled up in bed and cried for hours after my son went to sleep. My heart ached – literally ached. My brain was swirling with thoughts I hadn’t had in a while, thoughts of how much better off my husband and son would be without me. Thoughts that told me to “just do it. Just put an end to the misery.” People often view suicide victims (yes, victims) as “selfish.” But what those people don’t realize is that the victim usually isn’t even thinking of his/herself in that moment. So, what did I do?

I went into the other room, where my husband was watching tv and oblivious to the torture taking place inside my head. He looked at me with wide eyes and asked, “Are you okay?” And for the first time, I said, “No. I’m not okay.”

And that’s where my recovery began. Because in order to claw your way out from that dark hole, you need to admit that no, you’re not okay, and that you need help. And Lord knows, I needed help more than ever.

I saw my doctor the next day. I started an anti-depressant the day after that. I began therapy the next week. And every day, I thank God that I was able to admit that I needed help. Because I wouldn’t be here, writing this, if I hadn’t. My son would be without a mother. My husband wouldn’t have a wife. My parents would have lost their daughter.

I’ve gained ten pounds in the past month. I’m exercising daily. I’m HAPPY, you guys. For the first time in years, I’m able to say, with confidence, that I’m okay.

Really.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now. I know there are others who have suffered far worse than I have. But I want to drive one final point home.

I’ve seen people say that depression is “all in a person’s head” and that person needs to “get over it.” I say that’s the biggest crock of BS I’ve ever heard. And I kind of want to punch people for saying crap like that. You can’t possibly know just how badly depression can grip a person’s very soul. I lost myself for a long time, guys. I didn’t do that to myself on purpose. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

If you know someone who’s depressed, love them. Hug them. Tell them how much they’re loved and cherished. They may not believe you at the time, but those words? They’ll linger in that person’s thoughts forever.

Trust me.

There is no magic cure for mental illness. This is, and likely always will be, a daily challenge for me. But for now, I’m better. That’s a start, right?