Have you ever read the symptoms of depression? It’s something I don’t think many people like to do, even when they have a friend or loved one struggling with depression. I, however, read about the symptoms quite often. I do it to remind myself that it’s what I have, that what I feel at times and some of the thoughts I have is just simply the symptoms of depression. There’s one that’s usually listed at the bottom about certain thoughts. No one really tells you or goes into detail about that symptom. No one talks about how when you have depression it’s a thought that you might obsess over whether you want to or not. It’s there, it’s a part of the depression. And it’s terrifying. Suicidal thoughts. Or attempts of suicide. Most would think they just go hand in hand, I mean they’re listed together as one symptom. Yet, they don’t always go together.
A suicide attempt for someone with depression is when things feel so bad after years of having suicidal thoughts. It’s an unfortunate, upsetting last resort because when someone takes their own lives, it means they lost to the sickness. It became too much to handle to the point that it killed their brain in such a way that the only option was to kill themselves. Some succeed, while others fail only to continue to fight the sickness. Those who succeed usually come out of left field. People just had no idea that someone so happy could take their own life. Then there’s those who fail. They were probably just doing for attention. It rarely occurs to people not suffering from depression that it’s just a cry for help.
I’m one of those people who failed. For a brief moment at the age of 17, I had a gun in my hand and listened to a thought that took over my mind. A thought that seemed like an answer to all the pain I was going through. Long story short, my mother had just got separated from a man who was abusive to me while we lost our house so I was adjusting to a new non-abusive life with a mother who was a little too caught up in her new boyfriend, and somewhere in between I was having a very big mental breakdown. I had been prescribed antidepressants, but the prescription I was given was not a good match for me. It actually made my depression worse. That’s the thing about antidepressants, they can either be a godsend to stabilize you, or they can be the little devil that makes things worse. It’s all about finding the right antidepressant on top of monitoring your mood and living a healthier lifestyle.
Something my mother and others around me didn’t educate themselves about. So there I was one night with a gun in my hand. I had learned had to use a gun from my stepfather a couple years earlier and still remembered rather well how to use it. Hell, I still know how to use one now and it’s been almost ten years since the incident. I was hysterical. That’s what I remember most. And also, the taste of the gun in my mouth before I turned it away from me and let my finger still pull the trigger. Let’s focus on that shall we. I turned the gun away from me. I was so close, but something click inside me. There was no going back. There was no future. I was too young to want to be ending my life like that. Some might think it was a coward’s fail, but I made a choice to keep fighting and it’s been the biggest and hardest decision I have ever made.
The next morning my mother took me to the hospital after my friend from next door found me with the gun in my hand and insisted on telling my mom. That hospital stay left quite the impression on me. My problems seemed minimal to the others around me at the hospital, but also it was surprisingly very much like Girl, Interrupted (something my aunt and a friend actually asked me during my stay). There were deeply troubled teens, some of whom had to be sedated often. Yet at the same time, I found myself surrounded by people who understood. Doctors, nurses, and other teens who had experience in the subject of mental illness and how you deal with it. I think about hospitals now, and though I had an interesting memory of the one I was in, I find myself terrified of going back. Even though I know I will be among people who understand depression, I know it will be different because I won’t be in the kids ward, I’ll be in the adult ward. I’m terrified that going to a mental hospital means I’m not succeeding in battling my depression.
However, I’m starting to realize that that’s a silly thought. Let’s back up some, back to that one symptom of depression that no one talks about. Suicidal thoughts. Like I said earlier, no one tells you about how you might obsess over the idea of suicide when you’re depressed. No one really talks about how the thought plays over in your mind like a broken record. About how you could be walking down the street and at least a hundred scenarios play out in your head on how you could take your own life. It’s terrifying when you really think about it. As a matter of fact, it terrifies me, and shakes me to my core.
It terrifies me because it makes me worried, it makes me scared of myself. I could be having the best day ever, and that thought can still weasel its way into my thoughts. I don’t feel suicidal. I don’t want to kill myself, nor do I have any intention. But when you find yourself thinking about suicide far too often on top of all your other depressive symptoms, it sometimes feels like despite your own protests, maybe one day you’ll end up taking your own life.
No one really talks about it. No one likes to talk about it. When I try to explain to my close family and friends about my depression, I fall short and say something like, “My depression is acting up” to which they don’t say much of anything. It’s a bit of a cop out, but how does one with depression talk about suicidal thoughts without worrying people? I mean, depressives are worried themselves and when we reach out, we want you to understand that we are sick. It may not be physical, but it’s there on the inside and we need things not to be stressful or overwhelming because that can make the depression worse. Luckily, my friends and family go for the route of sheltering me with love or taking me out to get my mind off things which is good, because that’s like a metaphorical band-aid for depression. But let’s emphasize that it’s just a band-aid. Depression can be a lifelong sickness that needs many band-aids, along with antidepressants, therapy, and healthier living. It all plays a part, but I’ve noticed that not being able to openly talk about my depression can also make it hard to properly battle my sickness.
So to the all my fellow depressives, don’t be afraid to talk, to open up. We now live in a digital age where we can find people to talk who can also be more encouraging than our friends and family on social platforms like Tumblr, etc. And that’s great. That’s a big step forward. And it should be practice. Practice for opening up to the people we see every day. We need to be able to talk to our family and friends about our depression and let them know that we are sick and we are struggling to cope with it. For the about the last ten years, I have been coping with my depression on my own. I still feel like it’s a burden. Heck, I feel like a burden. I’m still learning to understand that it’s normal, it’s part of the depression. I recently told my friend that I wanted to go to the hospital and she asked me why.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her even though she knows about my depression. It hit me that I never have the heart to tell people what’s going on inside my head because I don’t want them to worry or freak out; or worse, tell me to cheer up, or give me some extremely unhelpful pep talk. I want to go to the hospital because lately my obsessive thoughts of suicide feel like too much for me. I’m terrified I might have a breakdown at any moment and lose it. Yet, if they don’t know how I’m feeling, and I’m not able to be my voice of reason like that one night when I was seventeen with a gun in my hand, then who will be my voice of reason? Who will be your voice of reason? Don’t be afraid to say I suffer from depression. Don’t be afraid to say I’m having suicidal thoughts. We need to end the stigmatism, and it needs to start with us.