(Blog courtesy of Debi Haden: www.debihaden.co.uk)
Only this week I have heard of two acquaintances losing a friend to suicide, both tragically young, with their whole lives ahead of them, but with what they saw as no other way out of how they were feeling with their depression than taking their own lives.
For many the thought of getting to a point of taking your own life is unimageable, for others I’ve heard it described as a selfish act.
In my own life I’ve experienced a cousin take her own life at 21, seen a close friend devastated by her boyfriend choosing to end his life, witnessed someone jump out of an office block to his death and had friends express their fears of dark thoughts.
We can never truly understand the complexities of their lives that drove them to believing this was their only choice, for everyone it will be different.
I remember as a Samaritan in training, aged 18, struggling to get my head round the concept that someone would make a choice to end their own life. That for some it would be the most in control and at peace they had ever felt in their lives. It wasn’t until in my 30’s when I was hit by crippling depression and stress that I finally got it, when I realised that my thought process of believing that the decision to leave this world was easier than the ongoing daily mental torture of just getting through…it was only in my darkest moments, at rock bottom, did I suddenly get it, did I truly understand.
When I finally acknowledged my depression, I realised that I had carried it for years, hiding it well, ashamed to admit to myself and others just how bad I had felt, was feeling. How even with friends and family around me, loving me, caring for me, I felt completely alone, like I was trapped in a bubble with the world going on in a muffled hush around me.
Those dark thoughts floated in and out of my mind on a regular basis, sometimes fleetingly, other times lingering for longer than I’d like to admit, always with the same focus that I didn’t want to keep feeling this crippling emotional pain, and that everyone would be better off without me.
I remember the day so clearly, the day I finally broke into a thousand pieces, at my desk, arriving at work having driven in that day feeling so unwell, both mentally and physically. It was an email that triggered it, nothing earth shattering, but enough to make me lose my facade and fall apart.
I don’t remember getting home that day, but know that for the three weeks that followed I barely moved from the sofa. I drifted in and out of a dazed stupor, coming to to witness the horror of 9/11 and then drifting back into my own bubble.
Finding my way…
I was one of the lucky ones I had a wonderful doctor who got me back on my feet, that got me support for my depression and told me it was ok to not be ok, but in time I would be. For the first time ever I could be me, no more hiding behind the facade, no more telling everyone I was fine when I clearly wasn’t. You see we get good at hiding it. You’d often never know because on the surface we hold down jobs, we have families, we do holidays and can even appear to have fun, but all the time underneath, we are hiding this dark secret, this crippling guilt, this shame, that we have depression, we have a mental illness…
It wasn’t easy or a quick process, but definetly worthwhile. In some ways I’m still working on me, and probably always will be, but I’m finally ok with that. I’ve learnt that there will be blips but they wont last, I just have to ride them out. I’ve accepted that it’s ok to ask for help, to allow others in to help and support me.
I’ve allowed myself to lose the shame and realise that some people will have broken bones, diseases and physical illnesses and some with have mental illnesses, none worse or better than others, just an acceptance that we might all need some mending along the way.
I still have cloudy days, but they have become less frequent over the years, and I’ve become more resilient and accepting of support.
I can now text or ring a friend and say ‘I’m having a bad day’ and know that they will be there to listen. I can say out loud that I’m low but I don’t know why. I can ask my hubby for a hug and reassurance, and that’s ok.
I’m at a point in my life that I can now support others with depression. I can help them find their coping strategies, their support system, and most importantly their voice to say ‘I’m not ok’
You have choices…
If you are struggling right now, I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you do have choices. You can feel better than where you are right now. It is ok to ask for help, and it really is nothing to be ashamed of. I believe I have become a stronger person since ‘coming out’. I wouldn’t be the person I am, or be able to help people in the way that I do, without my experiences.
Find out more about how I can help you with depression, stress or anxiety through the link below.
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