Unless you live under a rock or aren’t as involved in social media as much as I am, you might already know that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’d get into the facts, statistics, and other tidbits, but that’s not what this entry is about. What I want to do is share my story. Actually, it’s not so much a story as it is the beginnings of my journey.
The first time I considered suicide was when I was a teenager. I roll my eyes to think about how ridiculous that night was, but it was considered a significant event in the eyes of my first psychiatrist, an ancient man with a hearing aid who asked me to repeat everything I said–not the kind of thing one looks for in someone dealing with mental health.
The Event: I spent most of the evening swallowing random amounts of whatever I could find in the medicine cabinet only to throw it all up and cry in my mother’s arms until I was ready to fall asleep.
Fast forward to my second pregnancy. That was such a messed up time in my life. I was overwhelmed by everything and seriously thought that my unborn child would be better off without me. For weeks I considered driving off a bridge, swerving my car into oncoming traffic, just doing something to make the pain stop. I was hospitalized twice. The first time, I was put on two different medications that turned me into a complete zombie. After being released, my OB (who was a complete jackass in the end) decided that, according to his new prescription database on his Palm Pilot, I should not be on those medications. He never considered my actual mental state. So I was ordered to stop taking my meds immediately. He didn’t give me any instructions on weaning myself off the drugs. I ended up in the hospital again, put back on medication, and re-released into the world as a pregnant zombie. Eventually, I came off those meds in a whirlwind of family disruptions. But that’s not part of this story.
Over the past ten years I have been on and off several medications. As I write this (tears streaming because I’m just that hormonal/emotional), I am not taking antidepressants. There’s a bigger part of me that knows I have family and friends who are ready to reach out if I need help. But there’s still a somewhat smaller part that is really scared not to have a medical crutch. My feelings are easily hurt right now. My emotions are out of control. I’m grumpy. But I hope that everyone understands that I may need help even if I don’t ask for it. Most of the time, pride stands in the way and I won’t ask for help. Ever. It embarrasses me. I’ll tell you right now that the best way to help is just to barge right in and be there. Otherwise, I’m going to pretend everything is okay.
Here are the facts:
I lost a close friend to suicide. It still hurts.
I’ve thought about suicide more times than I can count.
Today, though emotional because I’m opening these wounds for Prevention Day, I am not feeling suicidal.
But someone else might be. If you know someone who’s struggling with depression, please reach out to them. It just might be the difference between life and death.
September 2015 update:
After the birth of Willow, I was able to resume medication. While some days are better than others, I’m grateful for family and friends who are always there for me no matter how up or down I am. Depression and anxiety are invisible diseases that manifest in ugly ways. Awareness is the key to prevention.