Inspiring Others to Overcome Suicidal Thoughts When You're Still Dealing With Your Own
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to start this story. It’s difficult when there are so many pieces to weave together for someone to understand. To have someone catch a glimpse of what life is like living with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), if you want to be medically correct.
Today marks one year since I was admitted into the hospital because my life was in danger by myself. Today is also my 20th birthday. It’s an interesting thing, trying to think about celebrating 20 years of life when you wanted to end it at 19. Yet, here I am writing this.
In all honesty, I want to inspire others and show them how you can recover and overcome this. But I’m not at that point quite yet. The brave thing I can claim is getting help, and even then it took a lot of tears and convincing to drop everything and sign into a hospital.
The real truth is, I still struggle every day. There have been countless times since then that I have wanted to give up and felt so incredibly lost and defeated. Even after a four-day stay in the hospital, weeks of out-patient group therapy and one-on-one time with my therapist of more than four years now, I have had nights where I want to go through with it, nights where it seemed like the only option.
The truth is, living with these illnesses is just that. You will live with them every day. Sometimes, I can go through my day as anyone else, completing tasks and enjoying the world around me. Others, not a moment passes without thinking about not being here. It’s especially complicated when you add on the anxiety. Not only is it incredibly debilitating in social aspects, it never lets anything go without doubting it first. To say I worry is an understatement. I process, panic, analyze, plan, re-plan and panic. You get the idea.
Shutting down ultimately becomes the easiest option, and I have been there. I have been 100 percent shut down. Slowly, I have been growing back into who I am, allowing myself emotions and most importantly, the ability to care for myself. I recently told this to a friend and it struck quite a chord as I realized how true it is. When you’ve been to the bottom, you can start climbing back up, but you will always know the feeling of being there.
Some days, it’s a curse. I am reminded of the pain and hollowness that was within me. Yet, it can also be powerful. I can see how far I was from who I am and want to be. It shows me the things that define me and I cannot lose again.
My depression took a lot from me, friends, opportunities, time, experiences and almost my life. Why was there an uncontrollable darkness I couldn’t see through? Depression doesn’t just pick and choose. It becomes your whole world. It seems there’s no use fighting or finding a way to the light that could be behind all this darkness. You are convinced that this is it. This is life and soon enough you don’t want any part of it.
My depression brought pain to others and myself. What was I to do? Apologize for the demon I could not control? Depression controlled me, and I let it because it was a lot easier than fighting a losing battle. The problem though, with my “logic” was I was only ever thinking of how I could fight it myself, alone. One of the obvious reasons I never considered help was the seemingly sparse amount of people who seemed to understand and who didn’t shrug it off as “sadness” or an “off day.” There seemed to be few people who instead legitimatized, acknowledged and respected it for what it is, an illness.
My heart aches for the friends I lost along the way. Do I feel anger toward them for slipping out of my life? No. I wasn’t fighting for myself and I didn’t fight for them. It is not their fault for not understanding or being able to have a friend who couldn’t be their version of a “good” friend all the time. I know it isn’t easy, but my hope is maybe one day I’ll be able to find some place back in their lives.
I try not to think about the opportunities missed by the constant voice telling me I couldn’t do it or why bother even getting up when failure is inevitable. There were chances I would’ve taken, friends I could’ve made and goals I could’ve reached. Yet, I can’t change the past. As much as I wish to turn back the clock and pull myself out of that bed and try to find myself somewhere in the empty shell I had become, I can’t.
What I can do is think of the opportunities that await. It’s hard to describe the feelings I had when I decided I wanted to end my life because frankly, there were none. I was dead inside and it seemed right to finish off the rest. Nothing had meaning. The small amounts of time I was allowed outside of the darkness were long gone and suddenly the things I had held onto, the strings that kept me holding onto life had snapped. It wasn’t enough. The pain, the sadness and then the nothingness clouded me.
Suddenly, I couldn’t think of the way daffodils bloomed in the spring (my favorite), how the sun felt on my face or how my sister loves me with all her heart. I couldn’t feel anything. It was a numbing calmness almost. To be so empty, you don’t even fear the thoughts in your head as they write a letter to the world you’re leaving behind and formulate a plan to end what already seemed to be over.
But, here I am. A year later, better off than I was, but no where near perfect. I just met with my psychiatrist to change my medication for the fourth time and I meet with my therapist twice a week. While it may not feel like I’m beating it, I’m fighting it and that is one of the strongest things you can do.
Image via Thinkstock.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.