I posted this blog on my last blog page I had a couple of years ago and felt like it was still relevant and important to talk about on here. I am completely transparent about my past in the hope that it will help others get the help they need and shed some light during a dark time. So here we go.
I was introduced to suicide and depression at a very young age. My 12-year-old cousin commit suicide when I was just in elementary school. Although I did not understand fully what had happened at the time, I realize now that incident opened a door to a lot questions that a little girl should not have been asking. I learned at a young age that this world is cruel and ugly, and that even the kindest people are brought down by the evils that surround us.
I started noticing a change in my behavior and moods in 6thgrade. Sure, maybe hormones played a part, but it was more than that. I’m going to let you all in on a secret that only one soul on this planet knows and even then, I highly doubt she even remembers this happening… At the end of 5thgrade I wrote a note to each of my family members saying goodbye. Telling them I was going heaven and that I would see them someday soon. One of my best friends at the time found the note where I was hiding it and said she was going to tell my parents. I quickly tore it up into a thousand pieces and made her swear on her life never to speak of that incident again. I made her believe that it was just a joke. When middle school came along, a lot of changes began to happen. I found myself day dreaming about running away and starting over somewhere. I had it all planned out. I also began day dreaming about how I would kill myself. At the time, I was not familiar with the effects of pills, so I thought about using a knife. I thought when, where, how and I thought about it often. Do you want to know what else was happening during this time? I was successful. Straight A’s in all my classes. I was on multiple basketball teams (club, select, school). I had an awesome friend group. I laughed and smiled often. On the outside life looked great. But guess what? I was still miserable. I DID NOT CHOOSE MENTAL ILLNESS. I did not choose any of this.
With no one to turn to, I just bottled up my feelings and emotions. I cried myself to sleep and in the morning, I asked God why he woke me up. I prayed and prayed for a way out of all my sadness, anger and worry. I hated everything about myself. The constant racing thoughts I had about everything wrong with myself and my life nearly consumed me somedays. I told myself though I would never look weak in front of my friends and family. I didn’t want to be that girl that looked “attention seeking” or “high maintenance.” I didn’t want to be a freak and not fit in with everyone. I just wanted to be and feel normal. So I lived as normal as I possibly could.
Then something happened that absolutely change my world. My sister attempted suicide when I was in 8thgrade. We are very lucky to still have her here with us today. Her attempt on her life sent me into a world wind of emotions. It was around 12:05am that my dad came into my room to tell me my sister was on her way to the hospital. It was also the first time that I have ever seen my dad cry. I spent the next hour screaming in a pillow and crying. I had no clue if my sister was even going to live. Want to know the last thing I said her? I told her to quit being a bitch. The last thing I said to my sister was something cruel and terrible. To add to my sadness, I now had guilt. When I finally got that phone call from my dad that my sister was stable, I was relieved. But my sadness soon turned to anger. Anger towards her ex-boyfriend. Anger towards her friends. Anger towards her. I could not believe that she was going to leave me on this Earth by myself. I needed her. And she knew that. The days after her attempt were the worst. Everyone pretended like nothing happened and everyone tip toed around each other’s feelings. It infuriated me even more. This was something that needed to be talked about and understood. Not ignored and brushed under the carpet. But everyone deals with conflict in a different way, is something I have learned over the years.
My sisters suicide attempt taught me a few things. 1) I would NEVER attempt suicide. No matter how miserable I ever get or how bad things are, I will never do that because what she did nearly destroyed me. You never realize how big suicide impacts other people’s lives until it happens to someone close to you. 2) I was not the only one who was in so much pain. When you are suffering from depression, you feel so alone. Even if you are surrounded by all your friends and family, your mental illness tells you that you are alone in this world. I finally realized that other people were going through what I was too. 3) Life is so so so precious. We spend so much time holding onto bitter feelings and hate, that we often forget how short and precious life really is. I’m not saying it is easy to forgive and let go (trust me I have a lot of let going to still do), but this incident reminded me that I needed to tell people how I felt more often and to spread more love than hate. 4) I needed help. To admit you need help is one of the hardest things to do. Especially to someone like me who is a perfectionist and who everyone views as put together. To admit I need help is the equivalent of me saying I am not strong enough to fix my own problems. I so badly wanted to be able to “fix myself” that I ended up burying myself in a deeper hole.
My story from here gets a little better. My freshmen year of high school I had a teacher that was very open to talking about mental illness in class. He made us all feel comfortable enough to approach him if we were ever needing someone to talk to. I finally gathered up the courage one day to tell him I was having thoughts of suicide and he helped me get the help I needed. I was furious with him during the moment but I can look back now and be grateful for everything he did because he saved my life. I started going to a psychiatrist and a psychologist. My psychiatrist put me on a bunch of medication that turned me into a walking zombie. I now hate taking medication and am extremely reluctant to ever get put back on antidepressants because of the experience I had with them. But my therapist was able to help me get back on my feet again.
During this time, I also started dating a boy. A boy who changed my life. He was everything a girl wanted in the beginning. Sweet, kind, romantic. He would do anything for me, he stood up for me, and he taught me a better way to live. He brought light into my life that had been so dark for so long. But once the honeymoon stage ended, things took a turn for the worse. With each passing day, he became more and more abusive. Telling me I was nothing without him. Reminding me that there were so many other girls he could be with, so I better do as he says. He made me fear him and made me fear losing him. And then he did the most unforgivable act: he took my innocence. He took something I wanted to save for the man I was going to marry. Something I can never get back. I wasn’t ready and he knew that. But he selfishly did it anyways. And almost a decade later, I am still scarred and broken. He took a piece of me that I still have yet to get back. How does one talk about something like that? How does one “get over” something like that? How does one help her future boyfriends understand what she truly went through? If anyone has been in an abusive relationship before then you know how it continues to haunt you even after you buried it in the past. The amount of courage and strength it takes to leave someone like that is indescribable. I was terrified to stay with him and I was terrified to leave him. But one day I finally found the strength to walk away.
6 years. That is how long my first episode of depression lasted. 6 years. Now does this mean I was stuck in bed, crying every day for 6 years? No. I had good days, and shoot, I even had good weeks, sometimes months. But remember when I said I was high functioning? No one knew of my sadness and pain until I came out and spoke about it. Even then some people had a hard time believing me because I was so good at covering up my pain.
You never know what a person is truly going through unless you ask. We have such a hard time asking each other what is going on in our minds. Why? Is it because we are too inpatient to hear what the person really has to say? It is because we just don’t care? Is it because we are scared of what their honest answer might be? Is it because we just don’t know how to talk to others about our mental health?
Honestly ask yourself right now, why does talking about suicide and depression scare you so much?Our society is at an all-time high right now of people with depression and anxiety. Suicide attempts are up. We ALL need to become more accepting and aware of what is happening around us. The stigma that surrounds mental illness is sickening. People rather kill themselves than tell someone that they are suicidal and get help, for the fear of how society is going to treat them. Do you know how hard it is for me to share all of this right now with the world? I am supposed to be the girl who has it all together, who is strong and stable, who always knows what to do and how to handle every situation. Well news flash: I’m not that girl. I am a girl who has been shut down and shut up by the rules of society. I have been told that I am the problem and that I need to fix this on my own. That I created the life I live and have to live with the consequences. I said it once earlier and I’ll say it again: I DID NOT CHOOSE TO HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS. The Lord only knows how many times I have wished this away. To wake up one day and be “normal.”
If you are still reading this, I applaud you for sticking with me. There is much more I could tell you about my past, but that might be a conversation to have over coffee. My hope is that everyone that reads this takes a step back and asks themselves, how do I contribute to the stigma of mental illness? How can I help make mental health a topic that people are comfortable talking to me about? Maybe some of you need help yourselves. You can relate to what I am writing about and are searching for the courage to ask for help. Do not let your mental illness define you.Do not let it defeat you. Do not let it take control of your life. And if it has control of your life, fight. Fight for that happiness you dream about and hope for. Fight for a better future. Fight for yourself. “I need help.” Three small words that have a huge impact. First admit it to yourself, then admit it to a trusted friend, family member, coworker or whoever. NEVER end the fight though. Your life matters and your life has meaning. Even if you do not see it now. Your. Life. Has. Meaning.