As you can tell from the title, today's topic is much more serious than most of my posts. In light of recent events, I feel like I'm ready to reflect on my experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts. Words cannot describe how tragic these types of situations can be- I wouldn't wish it on anyone. No one deserves to feel so hopeless and alone.
I read an article today entitled "There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide" by Katie Hurley of the Huffington Post. That article, along with the news of Robin Williams' passing pushed me to write this post. This is going to be a long one.
I am a survivor of depression and suicidal thoughts. Although I never attempted to take my life, I did contemplate the possibility of leaving this world. I was in such a dark place and I felt like no one would understand what I was going through. On top of that, I thought talking about what I was going through would be a burden on my family. My mom struggles with anxiety and depression- the last thing I wanted to do was make things worse for her.
I kept everything bottled up inside. I stopped going out. I refused to communicate with some of my closest friends. I had issues controlling my anger. I lost interest in everything I loved (music, especially). I self-harmed multiple times. I thought about taking my life just to end all the pain. Looking back on it now, I didn't know these kinda of thoughts/ feelings weren't normal. I thought everyone experienced something similar to what I was going through. I carried on with my life (what was left of my life) and struggled silently day after day.
My depression hit rock bottom in May 2013. Still to this day, I'm not sure why it was so bad at this time. I had so many things to be happy about- we had a huge family reunion in Disney World that month, my brother just graduated from high school, and I was going into my junior year of college with a 4.0 GPA. So why wasn't I happy? I knew my family loved me, but for some reason my brain made me feel differently. I felt like no one cared; no one saw the cuts on my wrists, no one noticed that I was locking myself in my room for most of the day. Looking back, I realize that I hid everything from my family. Of course they didn't notice anything different- I was acting like myself, for the most part.
A few months later (around September, I think), I got into a fight with my mom. Nothing physical, just sending angry emails back and forth. I couldn't tell you what we were fighting about. All I remember is writing is something along the lines of "I've been dealing with depression and sucidal thoughts and no one seems to care." Mom and Dad decided that it would be best for me to live at home for the rest of the semester and seek professional help. I agreed to live at home but refused to talk to anyone. Eventually, I gave up and went to my university's counseling center. In the initial assessment and therapy session, Kathrine (who is now my group therapist) told me I was experiencing pretty severe depression, anxiety, and passive suicidal thoughts. We discussed several options, including group therapy or private sessions through the school or another office. I decided to start group therapy that March.
Through group therapy, I was able to talk about my feelings and emotions without fear of judgement. More importantly, I realized that I wasn't alone. The majority of the girls in my group also dealt with some form of depression or anxiety. Although I don't talk to any of the members outside of group meetings, I feel a strong connection to each and every one of them.
This is a bit of a tangent, but I feel like it's worth mentioning. I know this sounds cliche, but music literally saved my life. After a few months of self-harm, I realized that it wasn't helping anything; cutting only made me feel guilty and ashamed. Whenever I got to the point where I wanted to hurt myself, I put my headphones on and blasted Fall Out Boy until I felt better. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I just sat still for hours until my desire to cut faded. The feeling never actually went away- it was always in the back of my mind- but music helped me overcome it. To this day, I truly feel that Fall Out Boy's music saved me life (I know, I'm getting super cheesy, but I'm just telling it like it is).
Recovery is an ongoing process that may never actually end. I understand this, and I am ok with it. It's been 1 year and 3 months since I self-harmed or contemplated suicide. Regardless, it's still a difficult subject for me to talk about. I'm getting to be more open about it, though. Group therapy taught me that it's ok to trust and open up to people. I feel comfortable telling my mom anything, especially since I know she will always be there for me and will love me even when I don't love myself. Recently, I've talked to my aunt, who had a similar experience to my own.
I'm not to the point where I can talk about this to people outside of my family, but through this blog I hope to get there soon. This is the first time I've written everything done, and it feels incredibly liberating. I'll admit, I'm still not 100% comfortable with posting this, but I feel like I need to get it out there.
If someone you know is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, remember: communication can be life-saving. I know it's hard. It's taken me over a year of recovery to be able to talk about everything I've been through. Don't push to hard, but make sure the person knows you care about them. In my case, I just wanted someone to talk to me, but I didn't want to initiate the conversation.
If you're dealing with these thoughts and feelings, remember that you're not alone. Find an outlet for your frustration and anger. Listen to music, play an instrument, color, do a puzzle- do something positive to lift your spirits. It may be extremely difficult, but try to seek professional help. It really does make a world of difference to be able to talk about your feelings in a safe, nonjudgmental place. Also, I'm always here if you need or want to talk. I'm obviously not a professional, but I can try my best to help you through this tough time.
Here are two of my favorite quotes from two of my favorite people:
"Put one foot in front of the other. Keep marching forward even when doubt, fear, and failure all come knocking at your door." Jared Leto
"When you have a bad day- a really bad day- try to treat the world better than it treated you." Patrick Stump
I love you for making it all the way to the end of this massive post! Thank you for reading, and I hope to talk to all of you again soon.
I love each and every one of you!