When I was younger, single, and without children, I never understood how someone could take their own life. How could life be that bad? How could you not get your depression under control? I mean, there are so many treatments available that something must be able to help. How could you leave your family behind? Leave your children without their mother or father because you chose to end your life? I have had a few friends end their lives due to depression and I couldn’t believe how they could just end it all. That was before I was smacked in the face with life.
I have grown up. I am married with three children. With the birth of my last child came the anxiety and depression. I was in denial for quite some time because I thought I was just overexhausted with just having had a baby and with two other children to tend to. I realized with the help of a few people that it was most likely depression that I was suffering from. I also realized that my childhood, being a good one, was also a bit mentally harmful. I have issues with letting people in, trust issues, and trouble expressing feelings to those I care about. I was taught to be quiet, independent, and rely on only myself. A “children should be seen and not heard” kind of upbringing. Makes for a difficult adulthood when you won’t allow yourself to be helped. Asking for help was a sign of weakness, I thought. Whatever the situation at the time, it was my problem and therefore I should have to deal with it alone. I finally crossed over the hill of denial and went to see the shrink. We tried MANY different antidepressants and MANY months of agony before finally coming to the right drug/therapy combo. There are some side effects that aren’t fabulous but overall I am doing much better. It was also recommended that I attend talk therapy as well. Found a fabulous doctor who noticed things about me that I had no idea of. She made me realize the childhood issues that were lying deep inside. Where before that I just figured it was a normal part of me. Now here is where I am going to get to the selfish or not part”¦
Like I said before, how could someone be so selfish by leaving their loved ones behind because of their depression? Now that I suffer from this horrible disease, I have a different outlook. There were many months where the only thing that kept me alive was my husband and my children. Had it not been for them I would not be writing this right now. I couldn’t get it out of my head that they would grow up thinking I had abandoned them. During this down time in my life it got me thinking. When someone has a painful terminal illness and they pass away, everyone always says, “Well at least they are out of pain and are in a better place.” Well, I consider depression to be a very painful illness”¦ emotionally and physically. It is so hard to get up in the morning and put a fake smile on your face. It is so hard to get out of the house and do the daily things life requires. These simple things to normal people are exhausting and painful to those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression. To me, suicide no longer seemed selfish. It seemed like heaven. The thought of no longer going through this personal hell sounded so wonderful and so peaceful. I would no longer suffer from the horrible emotional and physical pain I was living with daily. No matter how many treatments or help you may receive sometimes it just doesn’t take away from the pain and exhaustion that we feel. For some it is terminal. For some it is the only way out. Is that selfish? Tough to answer that question from someone like myself.
Today, I am doing much better, but still have off days here and there. I try to use a few different methods I have learned over time to get through these tough days. I actually talk to my husband now about ALL of my feelings. Before, I would have just kept quiet and hurt deeply inside. I would have cried myself to sleep. My husband says that depression is extremely selfish. Not that he means it in a bad way but when you think about it depression is selfish. You don’t let anyone in. You keep your feelings to yourself. Pretending is a daily way of life for some. Fake is the way. It is a one man/woman ordeal. All you want is to be alone. Being alone makes it so no one can ask you questions about how you’re feeling. You don’t have to pretend, fake a smile, or lie.
There needs to be more support for those who suffer from depression and awareness to those who don’t. You are not alone out there in this big world. There are so many people there ready to take you in hand and help you fight for your life, literally. If you have never suffered from depression, you will never understand what it is like to live with that kind of pain and exhaustion. But I beg of you”¦ never believe depression isn’t real. Depression is real… not an excuse to be lazy.
Editor’s note: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255