*Warning: this post may contain triggers for self-harm and material which may be upsetting. Please stay safe and steer clear of this post if you have these triggers.*
I had been meaning to post this last Saturday, but that was the day I got discharged from the hospital after my surgery to remove my brain tumor and I wasn’t feeling up to it. And then I began to wonder if I even had the courage to post this, since it’s even more revealing of where my mental health has been. This is dark stuff, guys, I’m warning you now. But I feel I must speak out. So here is the post in its entirety.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. I never thought this was something I would care a great deal about. Don’t get me wrong, suicide is tragic and suicide prevention is incredibly important. But it’s really hit me this year because I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at the end of last year. At the time, I was passively suicidal. And I was self harming. I was in a dark place that most people didn’t actually know I was in because I hid it from almost everyone.
And so I kept living. This is the slogan chosen this year by To Write Love on Her Arms, inspired by a line in the book Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I devoured the book in two days. I highly recommend it if you are depressed or know someone who is.
“To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”
There really couldn’t be a more honorable cause. Consider this statistic:
In fact, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year. This is on par with numbers reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which reported in 2015 that in 2013, there were approximately 113 suicides each day or one every 13 minutes. It is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15-34 years.
These are frightening statistics. Especially since I know how close I came to suicide. Twice.
The first date was August 23, 2014. At the time, my endometriosis was out of control. I was almost completely bedridden, in unbelievable amounts of pain every day. It was a Saturday, and two of our good friends were getting married. I spent hours getting ready because it hurt so much to move. Showering, doing my hair, putting my make-up on. Finally, when it was just about time to leave, I put my dress on, only to collapse to the floor in excruciating pain. I sat sobbing on the floor of our closet. I was in so much pain, I knew I couldn’t go to the ceremony. I was desperate for pain relief. My primary care doctor, who is a family medicine doctor reasonably familiar with endometriosis, had prescribed me Percocet for pain control, since she knew how much pain I was experiencing and that I was an honest patient. At that moment, curled up in the fetal position on the closet floor, I became so despondent of my endometriosis ever getting better that I had this strong and sudden urge to take all the Percocet in the bottle after David left for the ceremony. I thought that maybe, just maybe, the pain relief would kick in before I would become unconscious, and my last conscious moments would be pain free.
But I knew I couldn’t give in. I wanted to so badly, but I was in the process of seeking a second opinion from the Center for Endometriosis Care, who I truly believed could help me if they accepted my case. So after taking two Percocet in an attempt to dull the pain a little, I told David to lock my medication in our safe and to take the key with him, which he keeps on his key chain anyway. I laid down to rest while he was at the ceremony and by the time he returned, was feeling well enough (relatively speaking) to drag myself to the reception. I was still in a great deal of pain, but I was determined. We didn’t stay for very long and only managed one dance to “Unchained Melody,” with David holding me up because I could barely stand.
And so I kept living.
The second time I almost took my life was much less eventful. The date was February 3, 2016. I had had to call off work yet again due to the incapacitating migraines I was having (that would lead to my brain tumor diagnosis six weeks later.) My depression was at its worst and I couldn’t stand the thought of living another day feeling like I was. Despite the migraine, I spent two hours writing in my journal about all the reasons I could think of to rationalize my death; that no one would miss me, the ways the world would be better off without me, how I wouldn’t have to deal with these undiagnosed health problems that were ruining my life. Luckily, I had taken a (therapeutic) dose of Klonopin when I started writing, and by the time two hours had passed, I was feeling calmer, weeping silently instead of flat out sobbing and dry heaving. Eventually, my tears dried and I calmed down.
And so I kept living.
If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. There isn’t a person on this planet who is immune to the despair depression can cause. And you’d be amazed at the downward spiral your mind can go through once you pass a certain indiscernible point.
But I’m past that now, thanks to the love and effort of some very important people in my life. David, my parents, my brother, my in-laws, Holly, my (hopeful) future children, doctors determined to help me…thank you to all of you. You make life worth it.