This picture is probably the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever shared and posted on any social platform. And if this story is too much for anyone to digest, I completely understand any unfollowings on my blog, or defriendings on any of my social media pages that may come as a result. But I would be doing a disservice to myself and to those that might need to read this if I don’t post it.
When I see articles about young people who commit suicide for being bullied, harassed, feeling it’d be better if they were not on this earth than people they care about finding out their secrets, it breaks my heart.
And then it brings me home…remembering the people I’ve cared for and lost to suicide. And then shocks me to awake when I remember my own personal struggles with the same issue.
This is my confession:
I have contemplated death and suicide, wanting to die many times over throughout my life (for a lot of the reasons that young people have gone through with it and probably more); and notably went through the steps and stopped just short of killing myself three times in my lifetime.
The first time, I over thought and over analyzed the tools I wanted to use. I turned and reviewed every item in my mother’s medicine cabinet, looking up every pill in it in her pill reference book trying to find the right one and/or combinations that would do the job fastest, never realizing that overdosing on any of them could have probably killed me. That was December 1994.
The second time, my then 6 yr old goddaughter and her mom called me just before I picked up the knife. I could have ignored the call. I almost did. But something told me to pick up the phone and answer. My best friend since middle school was on the other end and the first words out of her mouth were, “I’m sorry I have been such a terrible friend. I should have kept in touch with you more.” After about a half hour or so, she put my goddaughter on the phone and her words, in my opinion, is what saved my life. She asked me when was she going to see me again. And I told her that I didn’t know. She told me she loved me and gave the phone back to her mom. And I broke. For a good two hours or more, we talked. She listened as I cried and rambled and apologized for rambling and somewhere in the middle of all of it, she started making simple suggestions and by the end of the call, the two of them saved my life. That day I vowed that if I ever fell back into the dark, I’d get help. That was August 30, 2007.
The third and final time I wanted gone and almost did, I remember wanting to walk into oncoming traffic. I looked at and watched several buses that passed in my view and thought how easy it would be to just…step off the curb. The day I almost did, I was on the way to a dr’s appointment. And instead of following through with it, I picked up my cell phone and contacted my then caseworker that worked with the doctors that initially diagnosed my depression in 2010 and told her I needed to be medicated that day. She asked if I could wait til close of business and I told her flat out “no”. That was April of 2011.
I remember each incident as though it were yesterday. The movement of my hands when examining pill bottles, every footstep I took from my room to the medicine cabinet. Each time I chanted the proper way to slit my wrists. Who I phoned and said goodbye to even though they had no idea that the call was for that purpose. I remember what buses I took the day I made the last phone call to be medicated, how many days in a row I wanted to step right into the line of one of them just to end it quickly. The memory is as potent and strong as my memories of my first kiss, the feeling when I used to dance freely and not care if anyone was watching, or how it feels when I close my eyes and listen to music with my whole self. It NEVER leaves you.
I have been dealing with depression since I was at least 12 years old. From bullying and past assault, to extensions of medical issues I have that I didn’t even know had depression as one of its many side effects. I’ve lost a job because of it and even some friends. Since the official diagnosis in December of 2010, I had been on a wait list for a therapist under the program I was in at the time I didn’t have a job.
I look back at some of the poetry I used to write. And it was a clear cry for help that even I didn’t recognize. It took a very long process to realize that some of my work was in fact, a plea to be heard; to be seen; to be saved. Do I still have bad days? Sure. Every day is a struggle. I never know what to expect when my eyes open. Some days, the darkness is the most promising thing about the day. And that’s even with the meds I take. And some days, my light outshines the sun.
Having depression is something I have to deal with every day. It doesn’t go away and it’s a constant fight to simply breathe. People can say that you can just decide to be happy. I did that. I still struggle.
Since being diagnosed with depression in December 2010, I had been on a wait list program for the program in which I was enrolled, hoping to find a suitable therapist to deal with not only my depression, but a bevy of other issues as well. Since making the call in April of 2011, I have been on and still take two antidepressants. It is very possible that I will be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. And I’ve finally come to terms with, accepted and am okay with that. Since Feb/March of this year, I found and am seeing a therapist at least once a month, sometimes twice depending on our schedules. I love my therapist. I never thought I’d say that about a stranger, but I am so grateful for him. He has helped me in so many ways and though my road to being 100% okay is long, he’s been nothing but supportive every step of the way.
My point in posting the picture and giving my confession here is this:
Suicidal thoughts (and actions) have no clear concise path drawn as to what will trigger the need or the want to be gone from this world. There is no set cause for the thoughts that invade you, why you pick the time(s) you want to go; it can be anything.
It’s by far one of the worst side effects of any clinical mental illness that one can have. You can crave it like a drug, like an incurable thirst that can only be quenched by actively completing the process. It doesn’t discriminate, it eats at you til you finally want to give in to it and depending on how bad things can get…it’s even resistant to treatment. Because sometimes…all the medication in the world won’t stop it.
I’m not an expert on the matter. I can only identify with my own personal struggles and that of what some I hold close to my heart have confided of their own struggles.
But my advice to anyone is this: if someone you know is suffering from depression or giving off warning signs that they might be having suicidal thoughts, first and foremost, be patient with them. Quietly observe the patterns, talk to them. Maybe not about their issues, but talk to them in general. It is okay to ask how someone is doing. It is okay to ask if something is wrong. But do not push them to talk to you about their issues. That is where patience comes in. Because as much as you may want to help or try to fix things for them, pushing and demanding to know…it actually tends to make some retreat even more, causing more harm than good. Offer the ear, the shoulder, and/or the hand to hold. Let them know you will be there when they are ready to talk…no matter what.
Don’t be dismissive of your friends’ blue moments. While there is a line between having a bad day or feeling a little down in the mouth, if those periods are going on for longer than one deems “normal” or you see someone you care about withdrawing more into themselves…this is a sign that something isn’t right. So be at the ready and let them know that you’re there if they need you.
Keep the door open by being there, being loving, being patient, and being supportive. Sometimes that is the first door one needs to see opened so they know it is okay to walk through and get help.
Thank you for your time.
If you’d like to know more about what to look for, are feeling you need to talk to someone or just want to get the information out there…
Suicide Prevention Hotline In the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Prevention Lifeline website – http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – http://www.afsp.org/