A Letter to My Uninvited Visitor, Depression
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
I don’t recall extending an invitation. If I did, it was unintentional. I don’t even know when he first arrived. I only recall realizing he was there on the day he tried to kill me. I stayed wrapped in a blanket that entire day. I wore my jacket inside the house. I could not get warm. He was making me so cold. I just sat and stared. My family spoke words in my direction. And I think I spoke words back at them. He was clouding my mind with numbness one minute and jumbled thoughts the next. I couldn’t focus or concentrate. Nothing made sense. There was only one thought that occurred to me that seemed to make sense at the time. There was one thing that I could do to stop the confusion and the coldness. There was one way I could have peace. I could end it all. I could take my life. So I decided I would do that.
I knew my family would miss me, but I thought that they would be better off without me. I believed I was incompetent and just too messed up. That’s what the visitor wanted me to believe. So I made a plan. I knew how I would take my own life. I would make sure my husband found me. I didn’t want my children to see. I felt strangely peaceful about the whole thing.
Thankfully, my husband arrived home from work early on the day that I planned to end my life and stopped me. He told me that I had to get help. I agreed. I was in inpatient psychiatric care for about a week. The doctors there gave my visitor a name: major depressive disorder. They found the right combination of medications to help me. I saw therapists who taught me coping skills and self-care strategies. I had weapons to use in my fight against depression. I was released and was able to come back home to my family. That’s when the real work began.
For the first couple of days, there was no sign of the visitor. I called friends again. I went out again and I talked to people. My husband and I even entered a lip syncing contest, and we won! “Great,” I thought. “This depression thing isn’t so bad. I’ve got medicine and coping skills, and I’m taking care of myself. I’ve got this.”
Then came the morning that I didn’t want to get out of bed. It’s not the usual, “No one likes getting up early,” or, “I’m not a morning person,” kind of thing. It’s a feeling that you literally can’t get out of bed. It’s being completely overwhelmed by the thought of simply moving. It’s knowing you have so many things to do but don’t have the energy or desire to get up and do them. And that’s how I felt that day. Again. My first thought was that the visitor had returned. My second thought was a realization; the visitor had never left. Depression would be with me every day, maybe for the rest of my life. I had to make a decision that day. I had to get up of the bed. The visitor laid there beside me. He grabbed my hand. He pulled. He tried to envelop my whole being in his dark cloud. I remembered that day, the day he almost successfully took my life. I fought back. I fought hard. I chose to remember that I have things I want to do: laugh, cry, travel, bake, get more tattoos, dance, sing. I have things I want to be: a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, writer, speaker, encourager, and who knows what else? I want to live.
Looking back now, I can see the years the visitor stole from me. I see photographs of events I attended, but I don’t remember them at all. When I try to recall the years of my life leading up to the day of my near suicide, it’s as if a fog comes over my mind. It’s like they’re someone else’s memories. The uninvited visitor took so much from me, and I didn’t even know he had invaded my life until he almost took it.
I’m working on getting my life back now. I am still in the process of figuring out where I went and who I am. I’m still deciding what I want to do. Every day I find another piece of the puzzle and try to see where it fits. It’s messy. It’s ugly sometimes. The darkness is still there. Some days it seems far from me; other days it feels as if it’s suffocating me. Sometimes I want to scream. Sometimes I do. Other times I want to cry. I do that, too. More often, I try to find a creative outlet. I try to do something constructive when I feel that the weight of depression is too much to bear. I write. I pray. I color. I go outside. I watch a comedy. I’ve also learned to share my struggles. I parent a child with severe special needs, so I started a support group for families with special needs children. It helps to know we’re not alone.
I cannot get back the years depression took from me, but I can move forward and refuse to let it take any more. I can take charge of my life. There are some things that I can control. I can take my medications. I can choose to take care of myself. I can use the coping skills I’ve learned. I can rely on the support of my family and friends. I can do my best to keep that uninvited visitor from getting too comfortable again.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via lolostock