Friday, September 18, 2015

Suicide Prevention Month

It is suicide prevention month. I am seeing it all over Facebook, my friends saying to talk to them if you need help or just need an ear or whatever. Seeing all of that got me thinking and remembering.

Something that a lot of people might not know is that I was suicidal for about 10 years; from the time I was 16 until I found out I was pregnant with Rit at 26. I suffered from severe depression, and I still deal with my bipolar disorder. I made so many plans to end it all during that time, even attempted a couple. I want to share my experience, hoping to bring understanding to those who have not felt that despair and bring hope to those who continue to fight it every day.

When I think about those days now, it's hard to believe it was that bad for me. But I still remember them, the thoughts that went through my head. I was depressed and I couldn't explain why. Everyone kept asking me why and I would tell them I didn't know. To them there had to be reason, but the truth is there isn't. Sometimes you just are. I felt worthless. I felt like all I did was bring down the people around me, hurt those around me. How could anyone want to be around someone as ugly, as fat, as awkward, as undesirable as me? I was a burden to those around me. I hated myself. I truly felt that the world would be better off without me, that my friends would be happier without me, that they would be relieved by my death. I know it seems harsh, but that was how I felt. That was my "normal". When you have those kind of thoughts every day with no end in sight, is it really so far fetched to believe that we would want to stop it?
I tried anti-depressants but they didn't work. And the side effects scared me off of trying medication for a long time. It wasn't until I hit rock bottom with the bipolar disorder that I was willing to try again.
So what changed? The new medication was helping. It was stabilizing things. Then I became pregnant with my son and it changed my body chemistry. I still deal with the bipolar disorder, but it's become more manageable. I've felt true happiness, seen the light in the darkness. I do slip back into depression occasionally, but I don't have thoughts of ending it anymore. I want to live for my son, I want to see what the future brings for us.

Suicide is a major issue still. There is no quick, easy way to fix it.
If someone comes to you and tells you they are depressed and thinking of suicide, don't dismiss it. Don't say they are doing it just for the attention. They are not. They are fighting those thoughts and reaching out for help. Be there for them. Talk with them, but most importantly LISTEN.
Depression is not just something you can "snap out of". You can't "just be happy". It's a process. It's a chemical imbalance. It is a sickness. It's fighting to get up each day and make it through each day.
If someone talks about suicide, don't tell them they are being selfish. Don't try and guilt them by "reminding them of everyone who would be upset if they died". It won't help. That's what I was told repeatedly by people. All it did was make me feel worse. It didn't help. Because, honestly, I felt that by killing myself I was doing the people around me a favor. I wasn't being selfish in my mind. I always felt that the people saying that were the selfish ones, putting their feelings ahead of the person suffering, of the person fighting. Don't guilt them, assure them you are there for them. Let them know they matter to you, that they are important to you, that they aren't alone.
One of the big things I dealt with, and still deal with, is feeling like a burden to those around me. I know I can be difficult to be around at times, especially when going through an episode. I worry that people only are there for me because they feel sorry for me and pity me. When the depression hits hard, I wonder how anyone could love me.

I know I am one of the lucky ones. I battled the suicidal thoughts and I won. I still battle the depression occasionally. I still battle my bipolar swings too. But I also know the feeling of happiness, and I know I can feel it again. I know I have people who truly love me, and that is my lifeline when I have to do battle with the dark thoughts.
If you are fighting too, keep fighting. Keep fighting until you can find that light because it is there. Even if you can't see it yet, it's there.

There is a website called Depression Comix that has done a great job showing the difficulty of living with depression. I recommend checking it out.