"Our mind never truly shuts off. Well, according to what I've read on the
internet and my own experience. Even in our deepest of sleep our mind is
constantly working. Throughout the day our mind subconsciously processes
things as they appear before our eyes or pop into our minds. It may be easy
to physically change what you see, but the thoughts never stop coming. We
have no control over our mind sometimes and that terrifies me as someone
that suffers with a mental illness.
For me there was never a "trigger" as they call it. No real traumatic experiences. My family had some issues as I was growing up, but I had a
wonderful childhood. At the age of 14 I attempted suicide by an intentional
overdose. I was required to stay overnight in the ICU and no treatment was
ever followed up. I didn't know what I was doing at the time; I've told my
therapists it was more of a cry for help than trying to end the temporary
suffering. Afterwards I was fine for a few years. I was the usual dramatic
teenager, the typical outbursts, but nothing extreme that concerned anyone
or even myself.
This all changed when I turned 19. I don't know what it was,
like I had stated, there was never a trigger. I had recently enlisted into
the military at 18 which was a huge stress factor for me but never
considered it to play into my depression. Maybe it does, who knows.
Eventually I got married and things took a turn for the worse. Mind you, my
husband has been my biggest support. We have our issues as every normal married couple and although he didn't understand my illness, he was always by my side. I began to self-harm and occasionally think of suicide. I researched ways to do it, took the time and really considered all pros and cons of the methods I discovered. We had two firearms in our house and I researched which one would be better to take my life with, I researched people who had survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The things that turned me away from that option was the possibility of my husband having to find me like that and live with that for the rest of his life, or live with a disfigured face for the rest of my life. Neither of those sounded
appealing. Then there's the overdose route. Since I had tried this route
before, I knew I had to take it up another level if I wanted this to be
successful. I checked my own pill stash, and researched everything to see if I had what it takes. Turns out most drug overdoses are ones that have to be prescribed to you which weren't a quick option for me. They are also more potent when combined with alcohol. There's also ways to build up certain chemicals over a period of time so your organs shut down one by one & eventually your body gives up. I considered this method as well, but figured it would be most painful. I would either pass out and choke on my own vomit or waste away in a hospital bed. I considered a few other methods as well, such as hanging and jumping, but those would require finding a place with height. I figured by the time I got there I would have changed my mind or someone would stop to have a chat with me along the way. All of this sounds crazy to read and admit to another person, especially if they never have been through this, but these are the thoughts that would fill my mind daily. I never thought it was weird, it was normal for me.
When people think of depression they usually don't think of someone like me. I was always bubbly, smiley, always dancing and singing at work, squealing whenever I see a cute animal, always down for a shopping trip. You can't see depression and it took so many people by surprise when I finally sought help. It hurt the most when people didn't believe me. I felt like I had to prove my illness and justify myself. Only a few people in my life knew, my parents and my husband. My husband saw all of it. The coming home crying or feeling I had to destroy everything in sight every day, the cuts on my arms, the violent outbursts, the physical and verbal abuse, the low self-esteem, the invisible hole I crawled into every chance I could. He begged me to get help and I always promised I would. It took almost a year of this for me to reach out. Although I wished for a quick fix, I've had to take it day by day. On 03/07/2015, I almost took my life. We kept a pistol on the nightstand & I never took it out of its holster until that night. I sat with it in my hands for hours. For me, I always have life and death on each shoulder constantly battling it out. The only thing stopping me was that my husband would be home that morning after working all night at the prison. I didn't care if anyone else had found me with my brains blown out. I never wanted him to feel guilty or that he should have done more. Technically, because he is a military member as well, he should have reported me the instant he knew I wanted to harm myself.
On 03/09/2015, I went to my MH on base & laid it all out for them. I never told anyone how I felt, the people that knew only saw the physical effects it had taken on me. Later that day I was escorted to a rehabilitation hospital where I started medications & daily therapy. Since then I have been through a lot of therapy sessions and although I am nowhere near where I wanted to be I am making progress. We have so many briefings on suicide in the military because it's a huge problem for us. Sometimes I feel that they are too concerned about us knowing our resources & making sure we attend the briefings & click through CBT's rather than getting down to the actual reason why so many troops feel they need to take their lives. Although every situation is different, most of us do have the same stress factors.
The brain is such an amazing complex thing. So many nerves, chemicals, like tiny roads inside our skulls. It's almost like torture when your own mind
betrays you. No one WANTS to kill themselves. No one wants to live with
these thoughts, but depression, or any mental illness for that matter, will
trick you into thinking that. Therapy and medication are designed to change
your thinking patterns and balance chemical imbalances in the brain such as serotonin but I often wonder if there really is a cure for depression. Not
to be a pessimist, but how does one completely eradicate this feeling? I
really do love living. I get to experience love, food, the warmth of sun on
my skin, napping, nature, animals, family, friendships, the feeling of
clothes still warm from the dryer, holidays, looking for shells along the
beach, I get to have all of life's little pleasures along with the troubles
which help shape us into people who can handle strife in responsible ways. I want to be that person more than anything but obviously I still have a long
journey ahead of me.
Sometimes I wish depression was something you could
see. The worst part is knowing you have it but thinking that everyone else
around you is truly happy because nothing appears wrong from the outside. My own illness has taught me to be more compassionate towards others, even when they are lashing out or hurting others, because I have no idea what they are struggling with. We often hurt people close to us because that is how we show our own pain. It doesn't make it right, but it is a temporary coping mechanism for some when we give some of that pain to another person. The worst things you can tell a person suffering with depression are "just be happy" or "everything will get better". If it were that simple to just be happy, we could put psychotherapists out of business. And maybe everything won't get better. Everyone has different circumstances which led to their illness, some which cannot be changed. Your situation can certainly improve, or even get worse, but therapy is designed to help the individual learn to cope. I hope that anyone that is suffering inside finds the courage to tell someone. You don't even have to be ready to get help yet. Just getting it off your chest can do wonders. You are not a freak, and you certainly are not alone. I initially thought that needing professional help was a sign of weakness, but weakness is hiding it until it consumes you, because sooner or later, it inevitably will."
- Candace Vineyard