I was a freshman in high school when I considered killing myself. I thought about it multiple times every day. How I would do it. Where I would do it. How would it affect the people in my life. That’s the one that always stopped me. For me, living with the pain of daily life was better than hurting the people I loved. But just by a little.
In the 80s people didn’t talk about depression. There were no pills you could take to adjust the chemicals in your brain. Suck it up. Pull yourself together. How? How are you supposed to do that when the weight of the world crashes in on you like a tidal wave? How do you pull your head above water when you are holding onto hurt that is so heavy it cripples you? How do you swim when your feet are encased in concrete formed from anger that is so strong it makes it impossible for you to move?
I didn’t tell anyone. Who was I supposed to tell? Freshman year found me in flux. My best friend for years was moving on and pulling away from our friendship. My mother was working constantly to try to earn enough money to keep us alive. My dad was not around. I was alone. At least… I felt alone. No one cared about my problems, and even if they did, I wouldn’t burden anyone with what was going on inside my mind, inside my heart.
One day I sat in English class and wrote a poem. “Little angel soft and pure, little angel so demure…” I didn’t realize it, but the words I poured out on that piece of notebook paper were a direct reflection of what was happening inside me. I passed it over to my friend to read. I don’t know what made me do that. I do know it saved my life.
She did not say anything to me. But she did say something to her mother. She went home that day and told her mother she was worried about me. She told her about the poem. Her mother called mine. Mine dropped everything and got me to a psychologist as fast as she could. She told me she loved me. She told me it would be okay. She told me we would figure it out together. She never once told me to snap out of it, to pull myself together, or anything else along those lines.
I got the help I needed. I got better.
I’ve traveled the depression highway since then, but it has never been as bad. But still, I remember that dark place. I remember that hopelessness. I remember the nothing. I remember that depression lies.
Depression, sadness, anger, nothingness, feeling overwhelmed… None of those are reasons to feel ashamed. Here are resources for those who need help:
Do you know someone who may be going through something? Read this post, How to Help and Support a Depressed Friend. Reach out. If you don’t feel like it is your place, then find someone whose it is.