The madness we survive….I spent almost two years of my life buried in a very deep dark hole trying to fight depression and suicidal thoughts on my own. I stared death in the face. Just the two of us sitting in silence, looking back at one another on three different occasions. Luckily I found the strength to walk away from him.
I laid in bed more days than I was out. I went through days without even remembering how. Cried more tears than a body could produce. Sent calls to voicemail more than I could count. It was a silent fight. Because until I wrote and made it public, no one had a clue.
It changes a person. It changes their heart, their mind, their soul. And you don’t go back. You don’t go back to who you used to be. Those scars, whether physical or emotional, they are there forever. The bruises heal. The aches go away. But the scars…they stay forever. You never forget the suicide attempts. You never forget the places, or the dates. You never forget the meaning of all those songs, or the smells that remind you of when. Even when you try and forget…you still remember.
It becomes a part of your story. Whether it’s a short chapter or a very long one, it’s a part of your book. Some chose to be ashamed of that chapter but I chose to use it to reach out to others. A reminder that they aren’t alone, that their feelings are validated, and most importantly, that they can come out of it. That there is hope. There is a light at the end of that seemingly endless tunnel.
People deal with things differently. People love differently. People heal differently. But the crucial point to all this is that that person, that person that hurts so deeply, is still a person. They are someone’s mother, a sister, a best friend. That person deserves to know that their life matters, even when they think it doesn’t. That person was me! If that person is you, read all that over again, and know that when you get through all that pain, you will be stronger than you’ve ever been.
If it’s not you…remember that all it takes is your hand reaching down to help us up. An offer to sit in the dark with, to hold their hand, and wipe their tears. A non-judgmental, real, friendship. Be that friend. It matters.
I was sitting in my first counseling session with my anxiety at full peak. To be honest, I should have been sitting in this chair months ago. A pen could have dropped and I would have cried because I was, simply put, at my breaking point. My son was noticing how upset I seemed all the time, how something simple I would once laugh off gripped me at my core, and how our home was not as happy as it was before. The constant guilt of that would eat me alive.
I sobbed at that first appointment, the full hour appointment tears ran down my face. I cried about how I felt I had failed my son, how lonely this stage of life was, and how overwhelming life is when you are a single parent. It was as though once I opened those flood gates, which I’ve worked so hard to keep closed, I could no longer close them. They were stuck open, both in therapy and once I left. This was almost too much to bear, I thought. I cannot go back; this did not help me at all.
As I walked out of the office, I refused to make another appointment. I used the excuse, I’ll call when I have my calendar in front of me. However, as I was walking to my car, I noticed I mentally felt lighter. Almost as though I could take a deep breath and fully let it out without tensing up. My jaw was no longer clenched. A coping mechanism I often would resort to, to help hide my anxiety.
I took a hard look at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red and swollen, my makeup looked like a hot mess but I was smiling, I was relieved of my burdens. See after three more appointments, I’ve learned that a large portion my anxiety is because I have placed those unrealistic expectations on myself. Yes, now society has a standard, or pro-quo, but who the hell cares, right?
I was the root cause of my anxiety because I felt compelled to hold it in, conform to the standards of a husband and wife household, along with not ask for help because I didn’t want to fit the mold of the often misleading single mother label. Instead of taking care of myself and finding my triggers for my anxiety, I would hide, lash out, or cry. I would often times forget to breathe, I would find myself tense all the time, and the cycle would continue, day in and day out.
Today, I fully recognize myself in the mirror and it is all because I took one of the hardest steps of my life, reaching out for help.
What’s the most important thing you’ve done this year? For me…it’s that I survived. One year ago today I sat in the garage, put the keys in my ignition, turned it on, and sat there screaming in sheer pain. Calling out for her, but she never came. I sat and pounded the steering wheel, grasping at my chest because it hurt so bad. The physical pain…it was just too much for me to take, and I wanted it to go away. This was my only answer. But as I sat there, uncontrollably crying, something made me turn off the ignition and open the garage door. It wasn’t that I wanted to live, but whatever it was, it was stronger than me or the pain.
For me that night…I was desperately trying to end the pain and conquer my problems. I could not bare to live my life without her. It was simply unadulterated desperation.
Depression. It’s living in a body that fights to survive, with a mind that wants to die. The suicide attempt(s) have become a trauma that I have had to learn to deal with. Some days it’s a battle, some days it’s ok. I suppose there should be no shame in fighting the war, because at least I’m here to fight it. I won’t say there haven’t been days when I haven’t revisited the thought again, but then I remember I promised myself never to allow someone to have that much power over me again. And at the end of the day I need to remember to celebrate the courageous person that stares back at me in the mirror and all that she has overcome. Because in the end…long story short…she survived!
A few days ago someone said something to me that has been stirring inside me ever since. Not a good stir. And not a good topic. Not something I would never talk about publicly, and never in a million years finding myself writing a blog about. But in hopes of shedding some light on a much misunderstood topic, a very relevant one in today’s society, and one that is now a part of my story. Suicide. Relax. Obviously I am here typing this story so it didn’t happen. But if I were recording a tape from 13 Reasons Why this would be one of them.
Recently my world has literally fallen apart. My wife, the love of my life, my everything, my best friend…left me. My family torn apart. I lost my job. Had been out of work since February desperately looking for anything without any luck at all. My daughter and I have been living on next to nothing trying to make ends meet the best we can. Sounds like a country song right? If only I could play it backwards and get it all back! I have been deeply depressed. And that is putting it lightly. I stayed in bed for days on end. Not eating. Not sleeping. Just crying. Throwing up. I would get up only to make sure my daughter had food or to take her where she needed to be. I was endlessly applying for jobs. I would put on my makeup, cry it off on the way there. Fix myself in the car before going in. Cry on the way back home. Crawl back into bed. And do it all over again the next time. This went on for weeks. Months. The panic attacks are still insane. I even have them in my sleep. I wake up gasping for air, thinking I am dying because I cannot breathe. Clinching at my chest, the tears rolling down my cheeks, trying to calm myself down as my heart is beating so hard I can feel it in my throat. Wishing the dog could dial 911 so someone could come help me. The mental and physical pain from a broken heart is real. And it is unbearable. I write all this not to seek attention. But to paint the picture of where this blog is going.
The way people deal with pain is different. And to each their own. On the night of June 5th, as I sat alone in my home, hysterical crying, I felt I was to the point where I needed the pain to stop. I couldn’t take the physical pain another minute. I was not the strong person everyone thought I was. I was not the mother my daughter needed me to be. I just wanted the pain I was feeling to go away. So I took the keys to the truck and I went into the garage, and I started it. And as I sat there crying the pain was more intense at that moment than it has ever been. My broken heart…how was it even still beating? I called out for help. But no one came. I wanted to die, but only because I wanted to the pain to end. It seemed like I had been in there forever. How long did this take? I was too scared. So I turned it off and opened the garage door. I cried myself to sleep sitting right there. But the next night…I did it all over again. And again….I was too scared.
So here’s where the stirring comes in…If anyone ever confides in you that they have attempted suicide…don’t tell them that’s the coward’s way out. You have no idea what they are feeling or what they are going through. And let me tell you something…everyone is entitled to how they feel. You have no right to tell them how they should feel. Anyone that is low enough to attempt to take their own life and is confiding in you with that information is trusting you enough that they think you will support them in some way shape or form, not come back with some type of negative comment such as that. People who attempt suicide have their reasons and I can guarantee you that none of those reasons is to ever intentionally hurt someone they love. You’re missing the point completely. It’s solely about the pain they are feeling. And if you can’t find anything to say that isn’t negative, then turn around and walk away without saying a damn thing! If you cannot be supportive than learn to just be quiet.
I am in a better place now. No I am in no way shape or form better. I have a long way to go. I may not ever be better. I still hurt. My heart is still in pieces. I don’t know that I will ever be whole again. Who knows. But what I do know is that I was stopped both those nights for a reason, and am thankful for that reason. I am not strong like I used to be, but I know I am brave because I was able to cont;nue on when I really, really didn’t want to. And I know that I now have something else to advocate even stronger for, because it is more personal now more than ever.
Know that if you’ve felt this way, or are feeling this way now that you’re not alone, nor do you have to be a warrior in this battle alone. There ARE people that care! Reach out…even if it’s to me!