On the Anniversary of the most life changing event of my life I have to say just how incredibly thankful I am. 2 years ago this month, in a long brewing state of increasing depression, I attempted to end my life.
While I was mortified about what I had done and incredibly lucky to survive it, I was told by the psychiatrists that after hearing my story, they were surprised it took me that long to actually try it. Seriously…I was not being funny, because there is nothing funny about it…but yet, that statement actually is a bit amusing.
But I don’t take it lightly. In fact I promised myself to remember it, to not let it ever be in vain. Not to dwell on it, no, but to remember it. Remember the lessons learned, the warning signs, and to not let it be a secret, however degrading and embarrassing it feels at times.
It has taken 2 years to be able to come completely clean and be open and honest about it in this forum. I have shared it at a few women’s conferences I have had the privilege to speak at, but never blogged about it because of the wide accessibility of it all.
I guess I was afraid of what people would think. I was ashamed I even did it – what with 2 amazing, beautiful daughters that depend on me. But mostly, I wanted to protect the people I loved the most. My closest family members don’t even know about it…yet. I have no idea if they ever read my blogs, but if they do…well…now they know too.
Lastly, it has been incredibly hard to address this because I never wanted to make it seem like it is ok to try what I tried. I am lucky…I survived. But it was SO wrong. That is NEVER an answer. And up until now, I couldn’t find the words to articulate it in writing.
So let me start off by addressing family members and even close friends. Not just mine, but any surviving family members of anyone who has attempted or worse, successfully committed suicide. It is not your fault! Nothing you could have done, said, offered could have prevented it. When a person gets to that final stage of actually going through with it…No one but themselves or supernatural forces can stop them.
Ironically, it took me experiencing it and thankfully surviving it, to understand that. I had lived with years of guilt, confusion, anger and sadness that my own mother attempted it and very nearly succeeded to the point that she was incapacitated for several months after her brutal and intentional try. I am sure my father and brother also carried that, and may still carry those feelings of burden.
But people – it has nothing to do you with you. It has everything to do with the depressed person’s state of mind, self pity, misconceptions, confusion, and yes…a lot of pain and sadness all heaped up into an insurmountable mountain. It is about the loss of hope, faith and love– altogether.
It’s about honestly not being able to face life and feeling like death itself is the only justifiable state of being that might provide peace and quiet from the sadness…intense, debilitating kind of sadness. The kind of sadness that doesn’t let up, but covers like a dark, damp fog and permeates into every fiber and membrane of a depressed persons being for not just days or weeks, but months maybe even years.
The kind of irrational thinking that lies and tells the depressed person that they are better of gone than possibly inflicting the world with their presence any longer. The kind of sadness that tells even a mother or a father that their children would be better off without them than with such a wrecked, broken, useless shell of a human being.
There is no one on earth that can convince anyone of anything different, once they have sunk that far. The only thing that can save that person is a personal revelation of some kind – either supernatural or by their own power.
So those of you that are walking around with nooses of guilt that you could have prevented it – get over it. It’s not about you. And it is only robbing you of the joy that every person deserves to grasp for. And anger…is an appropriate feeling, but at some point you have to just get it all out and move on, or face living an emotionally crippled life, which doesn’t do any good for yourself, loved ones and the world in general.
That leaves only two other groups to address which I will lump into one…those of you who know someone who is depressed or those of you who are depressed. There are sometimes warning signs, however, sometimes people are remarkably good at hiding them –even from themselves through acts of denial (that would be me).
See…people knew I was sad, but no one knew what was coming. Not really even myself. I didn’t even leave a note. I just pulled into the garage and waited. However… (Um…Here’s a BIG red flag!!) I did a trial run a few days before! Before that I did a lot research on how to do it, what would happen, what to expect, etc.
Hello…if you are ever at this point…it is time to get help folks! It’s just like if a diabetic went into some kind of shock…this is your body trying to tell you not to ignore your chemically imbalanced brain anymore.
Ok, since I brought up chemical imbalances. Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room here. It is quite possible that you may need to seek medical attention and yes…I am going to say it – God forbid…take…medication.
I am a Christian. But I have to really blunt and honest here…the Christian community is one of the most negligent of all communities when it comes to this. Not that I am saying that medication is the answer all the time, but encouraging a severely depressed person to merely pray instead of seek medical attention is about as negligent as telling a person in cardiac arrest to pray themselves well.
I will let them off the hook and chalk it a matter of ignorance, but it is time to get real here. I have lived it. I know. I needed medication to get to the point where I could even honestly pray right. My mind was just too clouded by the time I reached a certain point. I was not in my rational, right mind. Everything was distorted. Much like a heart out of rhythm, my brain was out of rhythm, and it took the aid of medication to get it synced up again. There is no shame in that people.
We are blessed to have science and medical advances, and medicine is no more the enemy than alcohol or guns are. It’s how they are handled and used that makes them good or bad.
OK…so besides medication…what are some other tangible things that can be done?
Do not isolate yourself. Or if you know someone who is depressed…try not to let them isolate themselves. Again…not that you can save anyone once they reach a certain point…because let’s face it – we all have our own choices to make. But, if you happen to be aware of yourself or someone else being depressed…intentionally reach out- Both ways. Both the depressed person and friends of the depressed person.
Now this is key…depressed person – it is more important for YOU to reach out. To try! To pick up the phone. But also understand – people are busy! People are also incredibly self involved and largely unaware of other people’s true feelings. Especially if they have never experienced depression. Don’t hold it against them or make it a personal thing if people don’t revolve their schedules around you.
This is hard for a depressed person to grasp, and if they are severely depressed, they will just be pissed at the world and themselves anyway. But if you are just in a depressed state it is important for you to know not to take things so personal and to keep trying. It’s possible to get out of a depression just by getting out and doing stuff you love. With friends or just on your own.
Try to pinpoint when you started feeling depressed in the first place…was it around a job change? A move? A life event? Identifying the root cause is huge. Then you can start addressing that root cause with truth. A lot of times depression stems from disappointment, loss, or abuse that has gone unaddressed.
When big things go unaddressed, they stew and grow bigger under the surface and end up getting blown out of proportion and perspective. Addressing the root cause can be monumental.
Then – the big one – acceptance. Some of the life changing events that left unaddressed causing depression may never be able to be undone or changed. All that is left is acceptance. Acceptance can conquer anger. I am living proof. Acceptance can conquer self pity. Living proof of this too. Accept that shit happens. And it happens to really good people sometimes…for no good reasons sometimes.
Then…the other big one. Forgiveness. And when bad things happen to good people and there IS someone to blame…there is forgiveness. You must learn how to forgive the thing or person that caused the damage…even if that person is you. Forgiveness is freedom. It is your get out of jail and live free card.
No one can unlock that door but yourself. Stop living like some justified vigil ante or self piteous martyr or embittered victim. Take Tom Petty’s wise advice. You don’t have to live like a refugee. You have the right to be angry, but not to live in anger every day. Be angry! Get it out! Then move on. Forgiveness does not condone or justify…it releases you from the anger, guilt and bitterness that will choke the life right out of you.
So there you have it. My uncertified, but personal tips for smacking yourself into healing. And yes…if you pray – certainly do that. I prayed a lot during those 5 days in the nuthouse. Oh…the stories I have to tell, but that is for a different time.
Now and then I think how tragic my baby girls lives would have been had I been successful. I will always be so incredibly thankful to God, the police officers that responded and to the 3 friends that became sisters to me by the unconditional nonjudgemental love they showed me. I have been given a second chance. I became a butterfly…hope. And hope gives more hope when it is out flying around, being seen, not being silent.