A few years ago, my undiagnosed depression came to a head. For me that was my introduction to suicidal thoughts and ideation. This came as a surprise to me. I had spent my entire life from childhood to parenthood abhoring the idea of death. It terrified me. I think the curious mind sometimes finds itself wondering about the afterlife, and I was no different, but as bad as things may have gotten for me, monetarily or spiritually, I always came back from it because suicide was not an option.
I hadn’t really noticed it change, but one day it just did. I knew there was a problem when I began to think that suicide was actually a good idea and I began to plan how I would do it. Every time it came up as an option, something talked me out of it. I thought I was going crazy, with the lethargy and the mood swings. I didn’t know depression and anxiety reared their ugly heads, but something was pushing me back down and towards the end.
I called a friend on one of these nights to relay that morning’s thoughts, the only thing keeping me alive was that I’d be taking away the only car we had from my family. He said something to me, I don’t remember quite what, but I know that he stopped whatever he was doing, and he spoke very softly, gently bringing me back home.
When I finally went to my doctor, she immediately put me on medication, anti-depressants. I didn’t want meds, but I also didn’t care that I was going to take them. The first batch didn’t work at all; in fact they made things worse. I wasn’t suicidal anymore, but I also wasn’t anything anymore.
We finally hit on a combination of meds, talk therapy, and I began taking a writing workshop, and attending church services. I was Jewish, so this was a bit odd, I suppose, but it worked for me.
That was in 2012. Here it is 2015, and I am finally feeling like a real me. This positivity, where I could feel the change probably began at the end of last year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2014.
It is a long road, and it can get worse before it gets better, but I did get better, and you will too.
There is a path to take; there are ears to listen and shoulders to lean on, and there is hope.
Do not be ashamed or embarrassed. Use all the resources at your disposal. Join a support group; online is equally helpful as in person. Find what works for you. Also find things that you have access to that will help you cope through the bad times. This week, I hope to offer you some of my coping tools, and where I take myself, whether physically or mentally when I’m having a bad day. We all have bad days. I still have bad days, but that is life. Life is up and down, and all around, and if I can get through my clutter, you can get through yours. You are not alone; you are never alone. There will be someone who will surprise you with their generosity of spirit. I have faith in you.
Today’s first resource is the sticky note at the top of the page. Do not rely on me, or anyone to get you through. You need a professional. These are some places that can help you through the most difficult times and on the right path to recovery. I still think of it as recovery. Take your mental pulse every couple of days. Don’t let yourself fall into a hole and forget how to get out.,
I saw a great quotation the other day:
“Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has mental health. It’s your responsibility to take care of your mental health.”
– Andrea Nguyen
It’s true; not everyone is mentally ill; not everyone is suicidal. However, everyone has mental health that they need to take care of, just like exercise for your body, you need to stretch and expand your mind to keep it in a healthy place. Think about the ways that rejuvenate you, and move you forward.
We are working towards no stigma about mental illness, and we should be striving for an equal balance between our physical health and our mental health. Get your mental health baseline.
Here’s a good place to start.