So I’ve spent the last 30 minutes or more avoiding writing. I sat down last week to write this post and totally avoided it. But I do believe that now is the time. Now is the time for me to share why I decided to share such an intimate detail as my struggle with suicidal and depressed thoughts, especially on Facebook, the most public of forums. Let me explain.
I’ve always struggled with having a very poor view of myself. Who knows why I developed that way, but I did. I remember writing in my diary that I wanted to die from as early on as 9 or 10. I remember feeling small, weak, unwanted, unloved, and unimportant most of the time. At least 90% of the time. And I don’t remember much of feeling a different way. I’m not saying this is anyone’s fault, this is just what is.
But for whatever reason, God gave me enough of something to not go through with any plans to end my life. I just suffered. I don’t wish the pain of depression on any person ever. Because the crazy thing is that depression makes you feel weak for not having the “guts” to end your life. So you just cycle through waves of feeling bad and feeling worse.
As I got older, into high school age, I made attempts to share my feelings and sadness with some friends and they didn’t know how to deal with it. My best friend at the time told me once to just stop talking about it. That I wasn’t going to do anything. This began those feelings of guilt and the anxiety and agony around being “too sensitive” and “looking for attention”. I persevered on though. Writing was my solace. Writing got me through.
College, same story. I wasn’t so prone to share my depression by then, however, I annoyed the crap out of my friends with my paranoia and weird and crazy ways. Of course *I* had no idea that they were weird and crazy, but they were enough for them to have no problem distancing themselves for a year. Their biggest advice to me was “let go of the paranoia Leah”.
In college is where I made my first attempts to “get over it”. And I kept on trying to get over it and not bother people and not be annoying and not be depressed for years. I became hyper focused on self-improvement. I read tons of self-help books. I became militaristic about watching my self-talk and keeping myself “positive” and “happy”. I even started a blog for myself that morphed into as much negative feedback as it did positive feedback.
I’ve ultimately improved immensely. I’ve been very blessed with a few amazing friends. I’ve been crazily blessed with a super resilient spirit that (annoyingly sometimes) pushes me to continue on. My drive to understand and better myself has sown pretty sweet fruit and I’m a happier, more balanced person because of it.
However, I did also bear the horrible shame of having this depression. I also bore the pain of trying to figure out why I couldn’t just “get it together” and “feel better”. I felt “crazy” and afraid that people would reject me or feel weird around me or shun me. Some friends that did have glimpses of this side of me, because of their lack of understanding, hurt me countless times over. I wanted so many times to just “be ok”. I wanted to NOT bother them, NOT be so paranoid, NOT be so dramatic, NOT be so sensitive. God did I want that. Not that any of them knew this, but I was constantly beating myself up for not being able to be all these things that they thought should be so easy. I was constantly watching, studying, reprimanding, and “fixing” myself to be better. And I’m not saying that the quest to get over depression and suicidal thoughts was a bad thing at all. That journey of self-discovery that I’m still on is the only reason I’m still alive today. I’ve found the right coping strategies, the right tactics and techniques that get me past the danger of spiraling thoughts.
However, had depression not been such a “dirty” uncomfortable word, someone might have just asked if that is what was going on. Someone might have been more ok with working through a downward spiral with me and helping me pull out of it. Someone might have had kinder words and a more loving vibe when responding to me. I might not have had such a hard time with learning to love myself and value myself had people right in my immediate circle been more equipped to hold my hand through that process.
And that’s why I shared my suicide/depression story. Young kids are dying from killing themselves. One of the stories below is of a 13 year old that shot himself. Two other teens in his area killed themselves in the same time span of his death. I used to write things like the third story in my diary and teens and adults write these types of things and feel this way all of the time. These people are choosing death every day as a way to free themselves of that pain. What if someone had reached out to them. Even better, what if we lived in a world that wasn’t afraid of sad feelings; one where they knew that they could talk out things or mention bad feelings and be received with love and care, not ridicule and un-comfortableness. I know that I learned early on that talking about these things with friends was not the thing to do. Which in turn, I think led to my erratic, paranoid, and weird behavior as a teenager and young adult. What if instead, I had the right type of support.
Suffering depression is unfortunately not something that we can control. HOWEVER, supporting someone and helping them get on the upside of it IS a task that we collectively should be striving to get individually better at. It’s been a struggle to get to this point in my life where I can stop depression before it gets horrible. Depression robs you of your sense of self-worth and if you don’t have anyone around to share that feeling with, who can tell you the truth about how worthy and wonderful you are, depression stops you at best and throws you back in progress at worst, and kills you at it’s absolute worst. It’s a horribly vicious cycle. I struggle with saying that depression is the reason why I’m not further along in my life, however I will say that I know clearly that my lack of self-esteem has made even simple things extremely difficult.
So in sharing all of this, my hope is that
1. others who don’t suffer from depression will have a deeper compassion and perhaps a growing understanding of the fact that it’s not always just as simple as “getting over it”.
2. others that are suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts will be encouraged to know that it’s worth it to hang on :-). That people are learning, that people care, that people see the true beauty of you even when you can’t see it yourself.
Before I close I will say that it absolutely FREAKED ME OUT to share this. This was a huge step of growth for me but one that I know The Universe wanted me to take. When the Arkansas Suicide Prevention chapter asked me to share my story in support of the Suicide Prevention walk on Nov. 2nd, I realized that I had to do it, that my continued healing required it :). I’m healing and growing into allowing even more awesome things in my life. This story can’t shame me anymore and this fact about my biochemistry doesn’t hold power over me anymore :). For anyone else that is suffering out there, I hope the same peace comes to you as well one day very soon :).
Where I shared my story: https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasOutOfTheDarkness
Walk with us!: https://www.facebook.com/events/517467854991770/