Trigger Warning: Suicidal Thoughts
I forget a lot of things, but I will never forget that day.
Prior to that day my mood, my demeanor, my energy, my zest for life… all of it had slowly started spiraling downward. I figured it was just stress from work and life in general. I figured I just needed to snap out of it. Be happy, you know?
But that day changed things for me.
Prior to that day I started having some “scary” thoughts, as I call them. I started to think about ways that my life could end here on Earth. I started to question whether anyone would miss me. I never thought I’d have the courage to do it myself, so I started wishing that I would get in a major car accident and die immediately. I remember telling God repeatedly that I was ready. For some reason it was always the same intersection that I found a glimmer of “relief,” wondering if my time had come.
My then-fiance had talked me into a camping trip. I loved nature (although I much prefer running water and indoor plumbing and no bugs), but I agreed to it because I thought it would help me feel better. It was a long day and I was trying to figure out what and how to pack for this “backpack camping.” I like to be prepared for everything, so I was having a hard time fitting EVERYTHING into a small backpack for a whole weekend in the woods.
He called. It hurt to answer the phone because I was peopled-out for the day, but I answered. I begged him to help me pack because I was overwhelmed. He walked me through a seemingly simple, but SO complicated at the time list of things to pack. I choked up but successfully hid the tears until I hung up the phone.
After I pressed end, I hit the floor and sobbed as hard as I could physically sob until I passed out. I woke up partly under my bed when he came over and found me. As you can imagine, he was very concerned. I was… empty. I was tired and empty. He picked me up, ran a bath for me, and stayed with me all night.
I thought I had reached the end. I felt nothing, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was newly engaged. I had a fun job. I was “skinny.” I had friends. I was doing all of the things I was supposed to do to be happy.
And I was empty.
I had an amazing friend who also happened to be a nurse. She was my “safe space” to talk about all of this. Prior to meeting her, I assumed mental illness was something people made up as an excuse, or it was something only really, really, really disturbed people had. It surely wasn’t me. But she listened so intently as I spoke about my struggles. She encouraged me to take “MHD’s”, or Mental Health Days- a concept incredibly odd to a person who was only ever allowed to miss anything if I was puking. That was it. But as I started to slow down and take a MHD here and there, I felt a little better. Then I did the bravest thing of all: I went to the doctor. I told her about my scary thoughts in a puddle of tears. I agreed to medication, knowing it would take awhile to kick in and I’d have to sit with the pain awhile longer. Knowing that it might be the wrong medication and it might make things worse before it got better.
And it did.
The first medication I took escalated the scary thoughts. I started to think about how many pills I’d need to take to end my life. I thought about walking into traffic. I was terrified of waking up in the morning because it only felt harder with each passing hour.
We quickly tried a new medication and added a “booster” to help relieve some of the immediate pain.
It was hard. It was scary. It was frustrating.
But… BUT. It was also brave. And life-saving.
It’s been a bumpy road since then. I’ve learned why the doctor tells you not to get off a medication when you feel better more than once. I’ve learned that it might go away for a year and come back when you least expect it. I’ve learned that medications will need to be tweaked constantly. I’ve learned that I need to take good care of myself overall to help manage it all so I don’t have to live a numbed life.
I still have really hard days, and even really hard weeks. But the majority of days and weeks are not bad.
I’m thankful that we have science to help balance the chemicals in my brain, because “just be happy” was never going to work for me. I tried. And maybe it’s not the answer for you, either and I want you to know that it’s really brave to stand up and say that you’re hurting too much. Even when it feels like the room is empty, I promise there is a crowd of people ready to pick you up and cheer you on. You just have to speak up.
I choose to be vocal about my mental health because when I wasn’t it was all too much to bear. I cannot imagine how many more days, weeks, or months I might’ve made it hoping and praying that I would get T-boned and taken off this Earth.
Please don’t be silent about your struggle. Find someone you can talk to about it. Talk to a friend. Talk to a doctor. Speak up and let people know that it all feels like too much. It doesn’t make you weak or a burden. It makes you stronger and braver.