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I was there once. In fact I’ve been there a few times over the course of my life.
The first time in my teens when I only had enough courage to take calculated amounts of pills, until one day I didn’t care anymore. I threatened that I’d stab myself in front of my sister if she didn’t get off the phone. See, I had to tearfully call my closest friends and give them things. I wanted to be done. But, I was also scared, oh so afraid. I wasn’t so much afraid of not being around anymore, as I was that those closest to me would have to miss me. So, I fought the pills I’d taken (which weren’t as harmful as I’d originally thought, thankfully) and I wrote a very long letter to my guidance counselors. They intervened and I got some help. That was only the beginning of me asking for help. I’ve gotten help many other times in life since then.
I haven’t always sought help though. Like that time I wanted to run my car off the road, at 80 or so. I didn’t just want to run it off the road, I actually wanted to ram it into the concrete divider. I wanted the pain and the heartache and the loss and the alone-ness and the everything to end. On the outside, I already looked pretty successful, but I still wasn’t enough – or so I thought and believed at the time.
Then there was the time in the not so distant past when I binge drank for 3 or 4 months. I wanted to escape the lack of the direction, the loss of control, the pain, the heartache, the alone-ness, the confusion. This time I was wiser, a bit stronger. I eventually reached out for help. I reached out for help more than once from more than one place.
Then, after Baby Boy was born and we were settled at home. I was so alone, I didn’t know how to be a mother, I wasn’t sure I could be a mother. With no network, no friends to call on, stuck at home, having given up my career. All the change, it was too much. Things were bleak, nothing really interested me, nothing excited me, I barely felt a thing. I didn’t reach out for help from anyone on the outside, thinking it wasn’t so bad, thinking I couldn’t be, though I knew I was. I was depressed, I was lost, confused, and I felt alone. I didn’t want to end it that time, but I wanted not to feel the way I did. I wanted to go away, recapture the life I had before, one where I knew what I was doing, where I felt things that were better and stronger than fear. I wanted to curl up and disappear, but I couldn’t. Baby Boy relied on me. Hun relied on me for Baby Boy’s sake.
Eventually, I turned a corner.
Each time, I eventually turned a corner.
Sometimes it was through recognition and understanding from others. Sometimes it was simply time. Sometimes it was asking for help. Sometimes it was through making changes. Always I turned a corner. It wasn’t easy. Some days were so hard, harder than I thought I could handle. Some days I mostly gave up, not eating, not sleeping. Some days I lashed out at any and every one. Some days I mostly just cried. Some days I tried to use tools I’d learned along the way.
Each time I pulled through I learned something new. Whether it was that I wasn’t alone, that I had my own answers, that things really weren’t so bad on the other side, that I was stronger than I thought, or even just a trigger. Every time I pulled through, the truth was there – I always wanted to live.
That’s not the case for everyone. Some don’t make it through to the other side. Some make it through quite scathed. Some, like me, make another vow to watch closely, to pay attention to the triggers and the signs, to not go as deep as before. And sometimes that works, but always there’s a chance it won’t. And that. That’s the reality of depression.
The reality is that there’s a chance of not making it out. And for the 30,000 or so every year who don’t make it out, there are at least 600 times that many who do, no matter how closely they didn’t.
If you or a loved one struggles with depression, or any other mental illness, reach out.
*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255