Tag Archive | friendship

She Is So Worthy Of Saving

Mary sobbed uncontrollably as she looped the flimsy rope over the ceiling beam in her bedroom.  She was a small girl and the rope should be strong enough to hold her, she thought.  Her heart clenched tight with anguish.  Crushing pain racked her little body.   She just had to push away the chair she was standing on, and hopefully the pain will stop.  The pain will stop, it had to!

She just wanted the pain to stop.

She couldn’t handle it anymore, she hurt so much.

She didn’t want to hurt anymore.

She didn’t want to feel alone anymore.

She didn’t want to feel like a failure anymore.   She didn’t want to feel her father’s disappointment in her anymore.   The pressures of being 12 years old were so overwhelming.  She could never live up to what everybody wanted of her.

She just wanted to die.

Good bye Daddy.  Good bye Mommy.  Good bye little brother Jay.  She cried even harder thinking about her family.  They wouldn’t miss her anyway.

“Mary! Dinner!”  Mary heard her mom calling her for dinner.  She collapsed into a bawling heap on the ceramic floor.  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Please help me!

Mary’s next attempt at suicide was when she was 16 years old.  She left school in the middle of the day, took the bus home and overdosed on a bottle of pills she had been saving, waiting for the right time.  She was hospitalized and discharged after a few weeks.

At 19 years old, Mary went away to University.  She had been so happy the summer before her university days were to begin, and so ready to set out on her own.  Her life as an adult was upon her, she was ecstatic and so very optimistic about her future.  She had a wonderful man in her life who adored her.  Her grades were among the honors, and she was attending one of the top universities in the country.  She was young, and beautiful, bubbling with life and vitality.  Her parents were supporting her through university.  Everything was good and right in her life.

Except it wasn’t.

She had hoped that she had outgrown the angst and pain of her teenage years.  She had thought those days were behind her.

She was wrong.

The pressures of being alone in a foreign city without her loved ones intensified her feelings of being alone.  There were high expectations of her to perform and achieve beyond her successful parents’ accomplishments.  The deep abyss of pain began to gnaw at her insides until she could not hold it in any longer.  She began to cut her arms to relieve some of the pain inside.  Before long, she was suicidal and had to be returned to her parents’ home and then hospitalized.

She was finally diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Borderline Personality Disorder.  She was treated and discharged with a plan to continue treatment and community support.   She cheerfully wished everyone a hearty farewell, and happily skipped out of the hospital with nary a backward glance.

At 2 in the morning, four days after her discharge from the hospital, Mary called a friend she had recently bonded with from the hospital, sobbing that she couldn’t handle it anymore.  She abruptly hung up and her friend could not get a hold of her after.  After repeated attempts of calling her cellphone, with no response, the friend knew she had to find a way to reach her.  In a panic, the friend called the local directory, and guessed the names of her parents which her home phone number could be listed under.  Luckily, the friend was able to reach Mary’s father and asked him to check on Mary.  They found Mary overdosed and unconscious, but thankfully still alive. 

Mary’s parents, though educated and loved her very much, floundered in their effort to understand and support her in her illness.  They couldn’t understand her depression, because her life was full and advantageous compared to so many others who were less fortunate.  She had everything anyone could want.  Their attempts to raise her spirits and motivate her, only added to her frustration and feelings of loneliness and being misunderstood.

I see so much of my younger self in Mary; Her feelings, her experiences, her attempts, and her struggle to live and die. 

I wish I could tell her that it will get better. 

I wish I could tell her that those awful feelings of despair and wanting to die will go away and never come back.  

I wish I could tell her that there is a magic little pill that makes everything right and happy again.

But the truth is, I can’t say with any kind of conviction that things will get better, not when I am struggling everyday with those same feelings of hopelessness.

I can only tell her that she will learn to cope better with the illness, learn to cope better with the feelings, with the pain, and with the intruding thoughts that make her feel so small and want to die.

I can tell her that there will be extreme lows in her mood, and they may not be preventable every time, but she can learn to recover quicker from those lows, so that this miserable burden becomes easier to bear.

I can her that there will not only be lows, but highs as well, because life can still be enjoyed when she has good days, weeks, months, or even years without any hint of darkness or despair.  It can happen.

Depression is treatable. 

Mary is now only 19 years old, still so young.  There is still so much she can do, still so much of life yet to experience.  Even with this mental illness, and the dismal outlook that inherently comes with it, she can still have a full and complete life.  Yes, there will be dark days, but there is help and support to brace and carry her through those difficult days.  There are people who love her, and care for her, even though she feels unworthy.

I want to tell Mary that it is okay to ask for help, and accept that help when she can no longer cope with the illness.  In fact, it is preferable that she reach out for help, rather than succumb to the darkness in isolation.  I want Mary to hear me tell her that she is so worthy of saving, because she has so much light and love to offer the world.

Stay strong Mary.

You will laugh and enjoy the light again soon.  And there are still many hours of twerking yet to be done!

Post script:

Mary is a real person and her story is true.  I have changed her name and called her “Mary” to give her anonymity and respect her privacy.

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“I Could have Been A Better Friend” ~ The Mantra of Survivor Guilt

Survivor guilt; a visceral animal that silently gnaws at a survivor after a loved one has committed suicide.

After the fact, the survivor looks back and agonizes over what they could have done to help;

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Photo Credit: Sandi Yee

“I could’ve been a better friend,

I could’ve been a better sister (brother, mother, father…)

I could’ve done more to show that I cared,

I could’ve done more to help if I had known.”

As someone who has attempted suicide, who has been immersed in darkness and doom, there is really nothing that anyone can do once the decision has been made.

Suicide prevention and intervention are at best temporary measures to stall a tidal wave.  It’s a strip of bandage on a gushing wound.

There is really nothing that can be done to prevent a determined suicide short of putting the person under suicide watch.

When the Depression comes, it is all consuming.   There is no logic, no love, no light, no sense of right or wrong, and no sense of up or down, there is only abysmal pain and despair.  Nothing anyone does is going to make any difference to that mental state of mind.  All those promises and contracts made in therapy not to hurt yourself, or to call someone when you feel that you will hurt yourself, those are the farthest things from the mind in the grips of mental anguish.

My attempts to commit suicide were not successful (else I would be dead and not writing this article), not because of what someone else did to stop me or to help me.  They were feeble and ineffectual attempts because I was young and ignorant.  I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know how to kill myself properly, and I bungled it.  How totally inadequate of me.

The next time will be the last time, because now I know what to do.  Now I am older and wiser.  I know my plan is fail-proof.  It is lethal.  I am not young nor am I ignorant anymore.  Suicide is no longer my cry for help, it is because I want to die.  My plan can be executed regardless of external intervention or prevention.  It’s just a matter of when.  My husband knows this, he knows my plan.

So when I see all the awareness on Suicide Prevention the powers that be are propagating,

I am not convinced.

I applaud the good intentions, the efforts, commitment and desire to help.

But I see reality a little differently.

Image Credit: afsp.org

Honestly, do you really think that removing potential poisons, ropes and sharp objects are going be effective in preventing anything, if the person has made their decision to commit suicide?

Delusion!

I see this as merely a coping tool for friends and family to feel less helpless, to have something they can do, anything they can do, to help.

wrist cut lines

Photo Credit: Sandi Yee

A dear friend of mine was completely ignorant that her beloved teenage daughter was hiding a razor blade in her room.

For a $1.50 at Walmart, anyone can buy a blade knife, complete with small plastic handle so no need to worry it will become too slippery to handle when drenched in blood.

This tormented teenager cut herself for months, and no one had any idea that she had been doing it.

To this day, the parents do not know.

I am the only one she trusted enough to tell.

That razor could have easily sliced through vital blood vessels if she was so inclined.  She would have had privacy to do so, because in our society, we give our teenagers the right to close their bedroom door and shut out the world.

Robin Williams hung himself, while his wife was in the house.  It takes at least 5 to 15 minutes of asphyxiation to die by hanging, unless the neck is broken immediately.  He had not been on suicide watch.  He was found dead.

The suicidal mind just wants the pain and suffering to end.  No one would know unless they had cried out for help, unless the warning signs were so obvious that they could not be ignored (for instance; stumbling out of their bedroom and announcing to a house full of family and friends that they have taken a bottle of pills; this actually happened with a family member).

Even then, everyone has their own lives to live, their own burdens to bear.  They cannot be expected to sit on suicide watch for their mentally unstable sister, daughter, friend…

My doctor told me to go to the hospital if I feel like I am going to kill myself.

I just have to shake my head at that.

I have lived with this condition long enough to know that feeling like I want to kill myself is part of my daily life.

If I am going to kill myself, I probably will.  And it’s not going to be with sharp objects, or poisonous substances, or the ghastly rope.

Would my friends and family have survivor guilt?

Probably.

Would they regret that they didn’t do more to prevent it?

Probably.

Could they have done anything to prevent it?

Probably not.

And no.  I am not going to kill myself today.

My Guardian Angels Wear Fur Coats

The first time my dogs saved my life, I knew I would forever need one in my life.

Suicide is always in my mind, a way out should my world gets too overwhelming, and my reasons to live just don’t make sense anymore.

Panda and Cubby

Panda and Cubby

On this one particular day, I was driving with both my dogs in the car; Cubby, a silver/gray poodle cross, and Panda, a lab collie cross. We were on our way home from somewhere, I don’t remember much from that day, the trigger, the reasons, or the people. The only things that stand out in my mind from that day were the intense feelings of despair and pain coursing through my body. They were so powerful, so fierce, I could barely drive, or see through my tears. I just wanted to stop the pain.

I knew there was a bridge ahead.  The urge to drive right off the bridge into the strong currents of the river raged strong. To sink into oblivion and leave everything behind, the fears, the pain, the hopelessness.

I imagined the scene; the car filling with water, my acceptance of taking water into my mouth, my nose, my lungs, and the peace I would have with my body sinking into depths of the murky river. The End.

I felt my puppy’s tongue lick at my teary cheek.  Then the image of my dogs flashed through my mind, of taking them into the water with me, drowning with me. Except they weren’t calm like me. They were terrified, struggling, pawing at anything they could get at to keep their little heads above the water.  Whining.  Yelping.  Their trusting eyes full of fear, begging me to help them, to get them out, to save them.  They didn’t want to die.

Oh My God!  What was I doing? These dogs were my beloved pets, adopted into my life, and loved as if they were my own children!

I pulled off the road and sat in the car, stunned at what had just happened in my head. It was real, the thoughts, the feelings, the impromptu scheme of drowning myself as I got closer to the bridge. It wasn’t the thought of dying that shook me. What shook me to my core was that I would kill my dogs. That I would inflict fear and death on them, as the last thing they would experience from me. How horrible to do so. I could never kill them. They deserved their life. They trusted me. They followed me. I am their mom, their alpha, they would go anywhere with me.

I could not lead them into suicide with me. I had to take them home.

“I am not drowning myself today. I am not killing my puppies. I love them too much to take them with me.” I said to myself over and over again.

I sat in the car for a long time, sobbing out my relief at what I didn’t do, what didn’t happen. They didn’t know why I was crying, or why I held them so tightly. They were content to just let me.

I took them home and we lived another day.

Thinking back to that day still brings chills up my spine. Even though it never actually occurred, the images of my dogs struggling for their lives as the car filled up with water are still vivid in my mind. I didn’t take my own life that day because I didn’t want to take their lives as collateral damage. They saved me that day, just as surely as if they had dragged me by the neck and doggy paddled me safely to shore.

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Panda 1995-2012

The two dogs from that day have since passed, and still I miss their presence by my side. But I am grateful for the time I had with them. They kept me present, gave their unconditional love and devotion in times when I felt like life was unbearable.  They stayed by my side when I was buried deep in the dark hole that is my bane in this life.  They kept me grounded by giving me their bodies to hold onto when I felt myself drowning.  Without intention or plan, they came into my life and became my therapy dogs.

Thank you, my girls, thank you.

Welcome

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Living with chronic depression is a daily process.

It is a management of emotions each and every day, from morning til night.

It is the commitment to look up, even as you are drowning.

For many who have never experienced depression, it is difficult to understand that it is a disease, an illness that needs constant and consistent treatment. One can never fall off the wagon, because falling off the wagon could mean death.

I am talking about Chronic Clinical Depression, the kind of depression that never goes away, no matter how good life is, no matter how many people surround you with their love. The kind of depression that grabs hold of your entire being, your heart and your soul, and pulls you down so deep that you are submerged in an abyss of darkness where there is no air to breathe, no light to see, no love to feel. There is only pain and aching hopelessness.

I have lived with depression my entire life.  At 42, I am finally strong enough and secure enough to share the struggle that has consumed me for as long as I can remember.

In my search for an understanding of my depression, healing, and trying to make sense of what was happening to me, I have looked to so many people, to so many sources, only to find more of the same negativity and despair I was struggling with.

Yes, there is information out there, clinical, unfeeling statistics of what depression is, how it can affect people, and how to get help and get better. And then there is the “woe is me”, bitter wailings of people who can’t move on from being fired, from getting dumped, from getting rejected, from life.

I did not want any of that.

I wanted to find hope. I needed to find hope.

I needed a path that I could walk, with someone whose story was similar to mine, that I could walk alongside and share my journey with.

I finally found someone who could be this for me, and more.  It took me a long time to finally find a sense of belonging and camaraderie with someone going through the same daily struggles as me.

Image credit: MotivatingGiraffe.com

Image credit: MotivatingGiraffe.com

She is my Godsend, my someone to talk to, who is going through the same daily struggle, the same medications, with children, husband and family situation that was and is parallel to mine.  Having her helped me to really know that I am not alone, that I am not crazy, or lazy, or inadequate for this life. Thank you, Heather.

It is with this in my mind that I write this blog. I want this to be a place of hope, of healing and sharing, of finding safety and a sense belonging in the comfort of knowing that I also walk this journey of living with depression with you, my reader. I encourage you to share your stories with me, to comment on my posts, and allow me to share your stories with others as well.

Together, we don’t have to feel alone.