Yesterday was National Suicide Awareness Day. A friend’s post on Facebook last night made me aware of the day, but more importantly it reminded me of the lies that depression can tell a person.
“Life is not worth living.”
“I am not loved.”
“I am not good enough.”
Seeing that post last night jogged my memory. You see, there was once a time when I was so filled with despair that I no longer wanted to go on living. The most painful part of each day was waking up. The knowledge that I had an entire day of pain ahead of me was almost more than I could bear. The only thing that kept me from ending my life was the fact that I could not leave my children in a damaging manner. While I wanted to die, I didn’t want my kids to live out the rest of their lives with the burden of losing their mother through suicide. I believed, though, that they would be better off without me. That’s how bad it was. The depression that filled my head and my heart was telling me lies. “Your children are better off without you. You bring everyone down. Everyone around you would be better off if you do not exist.” I am familiar with the lies depression can tell.
During that dark time, I wracked my brain for a “clean” way to die. I wanted to be gone, but I didn’t want to leave a trace that I had been the cause of my own death. The best method seemed to be a terrible car accident. Day after day, I drove the road to work willing and begging the semis coming towards me to cross the center line. For a time, I contemplated crossing the line myself, but I was afraid of causing harm to others. I didn’t hate anyone else…just me.
Remembering this terrible time in my life is not easy. Admitting it here and writing about it, is embarrassing. I am not proud to have ever been in such a place of pain and despair. Remembering it, makes me feel ungrateful for not recognizing the many blessings and wonderful people in my life. Had I been willing to reach out in honesty, I would have had an army of help gathered around me. That is another lie of depression. “You are alone. You should be ashamed. Hide your secrets.”
The worst thing of all is that the unbearable pain I lived through during that time was caused by the insensitive actions, lies, and betrayal of someone I had considered my dearest friend. My belief in myself was shattered. I lost my place in the world. Maybe I had lived a sheltered life up until that time, but I had never experienced being discarded by someone that I had cared about. Shortly after this experience, my dad died unexpectedly. I crumbled from the pain, loss, and loneliness.
It was a terrible combination of events that shook my world to the core. I was lost and floundering. I was sinking and drowning. I had recurring dreams of being lost in a dark forest, waving my arms through thick spider webs and tangles of black branches and tree roots, trying and trying to find my way to light and safety.
Thankfully, there were good people in my life who did care about me. They reached out to me, and they pulled me back from the edge. I allowed myself to grieve, but mostly I allowed myself to be propped up by others for a while. I sought help. For a time, I took medication, and truly, it saved my life.
It frightens me to imagine the “what ifs.” What if I had crossed that center line? What if someone had not recognized that I needed love, help, a friend, advice, or their concern? I shake my head now in disbelief at the level of pain and despair I felt back then, and I thank God that I have begun to find my way back to a better place.
I received a text this morning from a friend. We met through blogging, loss, and depression. While those may not be ideal circumstances to make a new friend, I treasure her friendship beyond words. Many, many times, we have turned the pain and despair of depression into giggles. She and I are connected in a way that I had always imagined two sisters might be connected.
Today she reached out to me in sadness. She knew I would understand, and I do. She was remembering a day from years ago that should have been a treasured memory. Instead, that memory has become a reminder of betrayal. It made my heart heavy to imagine her pain today – a treasured memory had become a bitter reminder, not due to normal loss, but through the horrible, insensitive actions of another. I reminded her of how far she has come and of her incredible strength.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,but for the heart to conquer it.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore
While I am not Australian, Thursday is their National R U OK? Day. Their website is a wonderful resource for information on identifying those who may need your help. Take a look around you. Take a moment to reach out, to be kind, and to be a friend.