feeling suicidal

I always figured that i’d die before my time, and that ultimately it would be me to take my own life. Even after I started getting help, I still took unnecessary risks that could have killed me and I still thought “what’s so bad about dying?”

Driving on a highway, I’d pass other cars with a very thin margin of error where, if the pass wasn’t completed successfully, there would be a pretty brutal car crash. I didn’t care – I almost DARED people to crash into me while i passed other cars. I was only thinking about my own life – “oh well, if i die, so what?” until I realized that my actions actually could impact other people.

I don’t drive recklessly anymore. I hate that I let myself get to that point.

You know, there’s nothing wrong with dying, but there’s nothing wrong with living either. Now I really don’t want to die by my own hand

-Anonymous

depression medication withdrawal

But there is a downside to medication – the withdrawal effects are BRUTAL even if I miss them by a day.

I experienced withdrawal the first time my dosage was upgraded; my body didn’t react well to the new dose – I got nauseous, dizzy, disoriented, and light-headed. I figured it was the anti-depressants that were causing those symptoms, so I stopped taking them entirely… bad idea. I was bed-ridden for days because I couldn’t move without wanting to throw up.

Anti-depressants are like a dam. They stop the water (depression) from flowing, but water builds up on one side of the dam. Stop taking anti-depressants for more than a day and the dam breaks. Everything that built up beforehand, that wasn’t affecting you, all of a sudden comes out of nowhere and hits you like a sledgehammer.

-Anonymous

adjusting to medication

The first week I didn’t feel much of anything, but things stopped feeling less hopeless. I was… overly optimistic about everything or almost uncaring, but in a positive way. Tather than “what’s the point” it became “what’s the point of worrying? Things will work out however they work out.”

I felt… light. Like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I remember walking around and feeling almost as if I was floating.

Eventually taking medication just became part of my daily routine, almost as unconscious as brushing my teeth.  My depression wasn’t as strong, and when it hit me, it didn’t last as long as it usually did. Eventually I started to feel normal, well aware that bad things happen and it’s okay to feel sad, disappointed, angry or just rotten about them – that’s just normal human emotion. But at the same time, I could finally just accept things and started to view my problems as surmountable. My failures did not mean I was a failure myself – just that I had unfortunate circumstances or had made a mistake. It wasn’t the end of the world, and I didn’t beat myself up for it.

-Anonymous

depression is like an ongoing storm

Sometimes your only option is to ride it out by treading water (using whatever thought exercises you’ve got). Sometimes, it’s not a heavy storm at all and you can enjoy it or have it affect you minimally. But sometimes, it’s too intense to ride out, and you need whatever you can get to survive it. My psychiatrist was the coast guard who came to my rescue when I was drowning at sea, but only if I knew in advance I might need it. Medication on the other hand was like a life-preserver, something I had to keep me afloat even when I was too tired to keep treading water.

-Anonymous

choosing to take antidepressants

Before the tragedy – the loss of a good friend well before his time – I had gotten complacent vis-a-vis my depression. I figured “well, I’m still breathing – it could be worse and so long as it isn’t, I can deal.” But the problem is, depression can work incrementally, bringing you down into the abyss one step at a time. I had gotten to the point where suicide was a viable option and I hadn’t even seen anything wrong with it, really. I just… felt like shit and every day felt worse than the one before it. I didn’t care about anything. It’s not that I didn’t want to care, it’s that I actually *couldn’t*

But when I lost my friend, something clicked. I realized I actually cared about something – the people in my life. And at the wake/funeral, I realized that if I were to die, maybe people would grieve for me too and having felt that pain – the first thing I truly felt in ages – I did not want to inflict it on anyone else, especially not the people I cared about.

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cultivating friendship while depressed

The friends that tried to understand were frustrated – people just didn’t understand how, despite having everything going for me, they were confused as to why I hated my life and everything about it. I can’t remember what brought the good friends around to understanding my situation, but in 2010-2011, something changed. I actually openly acknowledged to my friends that I had depression. It started slowly, but more and more friends were accepting of it. They just said “i’m sorry to hear you’re going through that, and if you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

The open acknowledgement happened by accident, but it was honestly one of the best things to ever happen to me:

One day I was Skyping with someone who would eventually be my girlfriend (now ex). I had just smoked up (pot was a crutch, an escape, and, well, just something I did for fun from time to time) and realized “crap, I have to take my medication.” When I got back, she asked what I was doing. I answered that I was taking my medication. When she asked why, I told her. And then I told her about my darkest times – the suicidal thoughts, the cuts, the narrowly-avoided attempts, and the moment that changed my life. I thought “holy shit. If i can be this honest with her, why can’t I be honest with others?”

I slowly started realizing that the depressed version of me wasn’t me. So, one at a time and very slowly, I told my friends that I was suffering from depression, and that if I ever seemed off or detached or upset for no reason, that was why. I didn’t expect them to understand – I was just putting my cards on the table. By that point, I realized either my friends were going to accept it or they were going to deny it. So I figured “what’s the worst that’ll happen? That I’ll lose my friendship? If I do, I guess they weren’t friends to begin with”

It’s a boiled down version of a very powerful Dr. Seuss quote: “Be who you and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

-Anonymous

supportive parents

My dad witnessed me almost commit suicide once. I think that’s how they found out something was wrong.

My mother put a heavy emphasis on finding God. I was raised a Catholic, and am currently agnostic. But there was all that talk of “you just need to find strength in faith” etc or “maybe if we throw him in a bunch of social situations, he’ll snap out of it when he sees how much people care about him!!

My parents were supportive the whole way through, even if they didn’t understand.

They wanted me to get help. They didn’t take away my knife, they didn’t stop me from talking about suicide to other people – they knew I needed to talk to SOMEONE – but they definitely kept a very close eye on me.

They were frustrated, more than anything. They were trying so hard but nothing was working. I can’t remember how, but somehow they found me a doctor that actually knew what they were doing. They took me to my appointments regardless of what was on their plate. They made sure I saw my friends, even when I had fresh cuts on my arms. Somehow they knew that I needed distractions and as much help as I could get.

-Anonymous