Here is my sixth essay, of seven, about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, as well as tools, resources, and inspirations. I hope they help, and that you know you are not alone. Suicide is preVENTable, so let’s vent together. Talk it out!
My Experience: Today, I decided to talk about the roots of my depression. In my lifetime, I’ve had 3 personal therapists. I’ve also had a lot of trauma (therapist’s words). By the time I was 12, I had dealt directly with a myriad of abuse (emotional, mental, physical, and sexual) from the people in my life that were supposed to protect me. The majority of my time in therapy, especially as an adult, has been spent trying to learn tools to positively deal with the stressors and triggers in my life, building my self-esteem, and trying to figure out where exactly my life derailed. Which of the traumas in my life led to, or helped develop, the assortment of insecurities and emotional issues that plagued me presently? At times, it felt like an epsidode of CSI, when the analysts are using red strings to determine the directions of blood splatter. It could be as exhausting as the issues themselves. However, when I decided to go on medication, I came to the conclusion/realization that this is just who/how I am. This is how I was made. My family’s history with depression and suicide made this clear. As did the fact that I really could never pinpoint an exact event as a source of my depression or anxiety. I just know that they have been there for as long as I can remember. My dark passengers in this ride of my life. I also believe that because of my family’s history with depression, I never learned positive tools for dealing with, or managing, these emotions. I believe my depression and anxiety have always been there, but my experiences in life exacerbated their severity. My traumas reinforced my negative feelings about myself, and drove me deeper into anxiety by making me feel unsafe and unprotected.
Because I thought that my depression and anxiety was a result of my traumas, I really thought I was a unique freak. That my very personal experiences led to a very personal version of depression and anxiety. It’s been a relief to find that I am not that unique. To be able to accept that this is a part of who I am allowed me to delve further into learning more about depression and anxiety. As I mentioned in a previous post, this led me to finding information about others that suffered from the same types of depression and anxiety as I do. The worry fantasies, the picking at my cuticles. A nameless monster in the dark is terrifying. For me, putting a name and face to the demons that tormented me allowed me to find better ways to cage them, and to learn how to not let them hurt me. I’m not done. It’s a long process. But I feel more hopeful today than every day before in my life.
My Tools: Today’s tool has a very technical name: Fake It Till I Make It. Try googling that! I reached a point in my life where I realized my shyness and social anxiety wasn’t going to get me very far in life. It would most likely hamper me instead. I began to take steps to get over the shyness. I started to fake it till I made it. I would just pretend I wasn’t shy, put myself out there, and wait until it became second nature. I started small: talking to checkers at the grocery store as I was buying food. I know… sounds ridiculous. For me though, it was hard! Eventually, it got easier, then better, then natural. Most people are honestly surprised when I tell them I’m painfully shy. I’m not shy when I’m with my friends, of course. I can handle small groups, as long as I know the majority of those present. But put me in a large group of strangers, and I’m tense with anxiety and trying to find an exit strategy. At the same time, I have an innate need to be polite and make others feel comfortable, so if someone approaches me, I can start to open up. It’s the approaching someone else that I wither from. As you can tell, my tool has only gotten me so far. At least it’s better than when I was younger, and, of course, I’m still a work in progress.
I try the same approach with my depression. On days when I would rather stay in bed, I get up anyway. I may not feel like doing anything, but I fake it till I make it, and sometimes I get into the routine of my day and those feelings slip away.
How To Give Support: One of the best things you can do to help a person living with depression and struggling with suicidal thoughts is to understand. That, and give them a stick.
Resources: I’ve posted many links to this site because I think the work they do is amazing. If you are struggling, whether you are considering suicide or not, or if you know someone that is, please don’t hesitate to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Sometimes all you need is to #talkitout.
Share It Forward: I mentioned in a previous post that writing and talking about suicide and depression is very cathartic. This young man, Patrick Roche does so in a way that is moving, breathtaking and cleansing, for me. I hope it stirs you as well: Couples Therapy