I have a confession to make: I do not like myself, I never really have. In fact, I pretty much despise myself the majority of time. I detest my existence so much that I’ve attempted suicide more times than I can count. The only thing that keeps me going are my boys. My boys have been my saving grace for the past 11years.
I live with depression. Everyday, every hour. I have all my life. I was finally diagnosed when I was 19 and put on medicine, which for the most part helps. That doesn’t mean though that the depression is gone, it is still there. I feel it everyday. Some days more than others. There are many days when I almost forget about it, but it is always there, lurking in the back of my brain.
I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom, more than anything else in the world. When I got pregnant, my life became about someone else, someone who needed me. Being a mom gave me purpose. I knew that little baby needed me even if I didn’t need me. I was no longer disposable and I knew I had to keep going no matter what for the sake of that little boy. Now I have four little boys and they count on me more than anyone else in this world, so I soldier on, no matter how bad things get sometime. I even pride myself on my strength to keep going. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some days I just want to check out completely, I just know that I’m not allowed to anymore, at least not right now. There are many days that I cry in the shower, binge on tv shows in attempts to escape being me, or try to sleep more so I can be someone else in my dreams (unfortunately, the hate I feel for myself follows me into my dreams and everyone in my dreams hate me). When things get really bad and I feel like I just can’t do it anymore, I lock myself in the bathroom with a razor blade and cut myself in hopes that the physical pain will relieve some of the emotional pain. Of course, most people that know me have no clue about this.
I don’t hide that I have depression, I’m very open and honest about that, but I’m less open about when I’m suffering from depression. Like most depressed people, I have a very hard time expressing that I’m struggling or asking for help. In fact, I’ll probably never even post this despite my desire to be frank and honest about things no one likes to talk about. When famous people commit suicide, people often say that they had no idea it was coming and that the person seemed happy and fine. That’s because that is the act depressed people put on everyday. We live our lives stuck inside of our own heads, which is a nightmare. Our brains are dark and evil and feed us images of ourselves that are distorted like a fun house mirror reflection. I’m sure many depressed people learn, as I did early on that no one likes depressed people. When I was first diagnosed, I lost many friends and was literally told by a few that they didn’t like when I wasn’t happy and couldn’t be around me if I wasn’t going to be happy. I’ve also discovered over time that if you show your weakness to someone and ask for help, they will punish you for being weak. Yet another reason this will probably never get posted. Depression isn’t something people want to talk about or be around, so we put on an act. The thing is, we aren’t trying to fool others as much as we are trying to fool ourselves. Maybe if we act happy and pretend to be ok then the monster in our minds that wants to devour our souls will stay quietly caged in the back of our minds a little longer. So each day becomes a battle. Most days we win, we hold back the monster, we live life. But doing battle everyday is exhausting and eventually cracks start to form in the cage and the monster gets free. Over time, you figure out ways to push the monster back into the cage (a good cry, cutting, small self destructive behaviors, upping meds, etc) . Sometimes it is over quick and other times it takes a few days or weeks. This is often when depressed friends will be MIA, but people don’t tend to notice because everyone is busy with their own lives. The problem is, it only takes the monster getting out once to become too much for a person who struggles everyday and for them to finally give up. That’s where these suicides that people think came out of no where come from.
When people do kill themselves the response is often that the person was selfish or weak or took the easy way out. All of that is bull shit though. Many times a person commits suicide because they feel like the world doesn’t need them or would be better off without them. They want to save their loved ones from having to deal with them. Even famous people who are remembered as “beloved”feel this way. Their brain doesn’t allow them to see reality, it distorts everything. That person certainly wasn’t weak either. I guarantee that they suffered with depression for years before they took their own life whether they were diagnosed or not. People don’t kill themselves on a whim. It is something they have repeatedly thought about and fought many times before. It isn’t an “ease out” either. Like I said, this person has thought about it many times before, thought about their loved ones, thought about what comes after death if anything, thought about nonexistence, and still decided that this was the better alternative. There is no easy way to kill yourself either. Before I had kids, I attempted several different ways. Pills aren’t painful, but they give you lots of time to think and possibly change your mind before they take affect. Slitting your wrists is painful and takes a lot of pressure on the blade, making it difficult to work against your bodies reaction to the pain. In fact, the body’s natural desire to survive is so strong that it makes just about any choice extremely hard to follow through on, it takes real determination to be successful. Only one of my attempts was successful. I flat lined, but I’d already confessed to taking too many pills to someone, my self-perseverance instincts kicking in, and they sought help. It only takes one successful attempt without interventions to be the end of someone. One missed sign that a person needed help. One person too scared or unable to ask for help.
So why am I writing this? It isn’t a suicide note or anything, but it is a cry for help. A cry for help for all people who are suffering from depression. After a couple of recent famous suicides there was a lot of talk about suicide and prevention. It got me a little angry because people kill themselves everyday. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Statistics say that 123 people commit suicide everyday in America and for every successful attempt, there are 25 failed attempts. That means that 3,075 people attempt suicide in America everyday. More than likely, someone you know was one of those failed attempts at some point in time and you probably don’t even know it. If you know me, then you know someone who has tried to commit suicide. So why is it that suicide and depression are only really talked about when someone famous dies from it? Why are the 1,122,375 suicide attempts each year never discussed? For the same reason that people suffering from depression don’t tend to share that they are suffering from depression, because of the stigma, because no one wants to be around the person with depression. According to the APA, “one in four primary care patients suffer from depression,” but only a third get diagnosed. If that is the case, we are all surrounded by people suffering from some type of depression so it is time we start being ok with talking about it. I’ve always been honest about my depression because I don’t want others suffering to feel like they are alone, but I haven’t been as open about my past suicide attempts. However, I’ve decided it is time to be open about them and my still daily struggle with depression, despite the risk of rejection, punishment, or ostracization I might face, because I’m not ok and neither are a lot of people and we shouldn’t be afraid to say that.
Am I suicidal? No. Have I been struggling with depression? Everyday, all my life. I tell people I was diagnosed with depression at 19 and many assume that means I’m ok now, but that isn’t how it works. I constantly struggle with it whether I show signs of it or not. Should that make people worried? Not really, but it should make people aware. You can go online and look up signs of depression and suicidal behavior, but in reality, that isn’t going to help as much as being open and honest and willing to talk about depression. Someone you know is suffering from depression right now and afraid to talk about it. Open up a dialogue, normalize it, make it no big deal to talk about depression, then maybe people will feel safe enough to get help or you might find out who needs it. If nothing else, people who are suffering from the isolating effects of depression might feel less isolated and stigmatized.
It is ok to not be ok! I’m not ok most days, but I’m still here.
Disclaimer to my mom and loved ones: please don’t call all worried and asking if I’m ok. I’m not struggling anymore than any other day. This isn’t about my current state, it is about the message that no one should be depressed alone. I love you and promise I’m taking care of myself.