(Note: this is the writer’s own experience and is not linked or associated with anyone else. It is not a story of fiction but reality. This was written in a bid to spread awareness after a recent setback that the writer experienced – the stigma or the backlash that the writer encountered while coming clean about her condition)
I suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety – having experienced the former ever since I was four years old and the latter about six years ago. Truth be told, I never thought that those panic attacks and breakdowns that I had were serious in nature – no one around me seemed to notice nor bother to help me with it when I confide in them. I simply thought that it was a way for my body to tell me that I’m tired and need a break (I used to work after school and hence I would be running around for at least 13 hours a day, 5 times a week ever since I was 7).
I began cutting myself when I was 12. I was in a fragile state of mind, my heart felt like it was being ripped apart and the ‘social’ bullying I was receiving made it even harder for me to fit it – I was already weird and had very little friends to begin with. It was a simple nick on my finger, and then I began to increase it – 2, 3 slashes on different fingers. I used to tell my parents that those cuts were injuries sustained during my Living Skills class – I was really into woodwork back then and so they bought the story.
As I progressed into high school, the trauma I felt became worse. A different school did not mean a different set of mentality apparently – I was bullied in high school too and well, things at home weren’t looking up as well. I ‘graduated’ from making small nicks on my fingers to width long slashes on my forearm. I wasn’t wise I suppose – I made those cuts on the outer part of my forearm rather than the inner, yet since I always wore a long sleeved uniform, the cuts were often hidden from view. Of course some of my closest noticed the cuts whenever I rolled up my sleeves but still, it wasn’t a big deal to them.
I attempted to end my life when I was 15. The cut that I made, on my wrist have healed by now, there’s only a partial scar left, however I still remember clearly the feeling I had when I made it. I don’t remember what made me stop exactly – but I do know that my family are unaware of this, even until today. A few of my classmates knew back then, but it’s like an old wives tale by now – no one cares any longer.
And I suppose that was what made me do it – because no one cared. I was the class clown, the constant Joker/Jester and yet I could count on one hand how often someone has asked me how I was – I don’t even need a hand actually cause the answer is none. Back then, kids who are sort of an outcast were often left alone – if you’re not popular, then high school would feel like hell. Of course if someone from my school were to be asked about me, they would talk about how I often behaved like a fool, disturbing people and cracking jokes as that was the persona I wanted to show to the world.
Yet some would remember how quiet I was, how I often spoke of sadness and depression and of not knowing how it felt to be loved in return.
As I got older, I stopped slashing my hands; instead I began using matches to burn holes on my forearm. My left hand looks quite ugly now with those scars on them – a fact I deeply regret every single time I have to attend an interview yet it is something I can do nothing about – unless of course I pay a huge sum to have surgery to remove it.
I had often seek help from friends and family – I have often spoken about being depressed and anxious, how I feel hopeless and lost and utterly useless. And yet, I never found the help that I wanted. For as far as I can remember, no one actually bothered about it, about me and after a while, I stopped talking about my condition, I stopped seeking help. I just continued hurting myself every time I felt the pain.
I knew that I wanted a way out – that contemplating suicide was simply because I was done with the pain that the world was dishing out on me and I wanted to quit, I wanted a means to end the pain that I was feeling. When I approached someone to talk about my condition, I was often ridiculed about it – about how as a teenager I had nothing to be depressed about and how I was being ungrateful as I am gifted with a comfortable life unlike those in the third world country.
And this was where my mind felt like it had enough. I knew I had some sort of a problem yet when I seek for help, I was ridiculed instead. When I approached my parents and told them that I’d like to see a psychiatrist, I was told that I’m being ridiculous, that the reason why I felt depressed was because I didn’t believe in God.
Which again, made me feel even more hopeless – for the only reason I didn’t end my life was because I feared God – I feared the taking of my life as my life was a gift from Him, one that I was abusing badly.
I attempted suicide once more in my early 20s – I was just too in pain, I experienced bouts of anxiety and panic attacks which ultimately lead to me being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). It subsequently became worse after an unsettling experience which caused me to being bed-ridden for a few months and losing 20% of my weight. Of course, at that moment, all thoughts about God, about family, the life that I had been chasing after was thrown into the wind. I was standing at the ledge for too long, I just got tired of waiting for a reason to step back.
And so I leaped.
This time, I encountered failure once again.
As I’m writing this, I’m glad that I failed. Over the past few months, I have become an important asset to my family – though I’m still a student, my parents are relying on me in many aspects. It makes me wonder, what would have happened if I wasn’t around?
Of course, it would have been easier on them in many ways as it would have meant that they no longer needed to support me, yet at the same time, knowing them ever so well, I know they would be lost without me, or worse, would be joining me. The probability is quite high and I realize, quite belatedly, that though I was – and still am, suffering an immerse pain, I still can use this life of mine to benefit others, even though I often feel hopeless and useless.
I felt suicidal for these reasons :-
- Unable to fulfill the role/standard applied onto me
- Self – loathing
The first two reasons are something I believe with time, and the right set of people, I can overcome it. And yet the third reason is what troubles me the most. I often find myself reliving the past, especially those with painful memories, and eventually I find myself trapped in it. I keep feeling trapped, and observed – as if my every movement was being watched. I began putting pressure on myself, setting the bar high, too high that I couldn’t even dream of reaching. And each time I failed validated that feeling of self loathing that I had – validated the feeling that I was useless and amounted to nothing. I begin to feel paranoid, suffocated with my own fears and inability to accomplish and achieve simple goals and in the end, I feel like giving up on life.
A recent heartbreak, though happened ten months ago, still feels so fresh in mind – yet in a weird way, rather than pushing me to the path of self destruction once again, this ill-fated romantic relationship that I had has instead become a driving force for me to move forward. This could possibly be because I am still harboring romantic feelings for this particular person yet I am amazed to find myself accepting in a more calmer way than opposed to how I would have normally.
My only theory behind this is that I value that person so much and I could see how devastated she would be if she finds out I ended my life because of the breakup and so I’m fighting against the urge, the want that I would normally get so that I wouldn’t hurt her more than I already have.
Over the course of these few months, my life have been quite rocky and the lack of support from friends and family had made me turn to writing – poetry to be exact as a therapeutic release. And boy, it worked wonders.
And still, though we have advance quite far in this modern world, mental illness is still viewed with so much of stigma. I was mocked by someone when I confessed that I had both anxiety and depression – simply because these two conditions are not ‘severe’ enough in their eyes to be labelled as ‘mental illnesses’. And this is the worrying part – I can’t fathom how someone could laugh at a person who was clearly struggling to put their feet on the solid ground. If a person who was seeking for support and help gets laughed at in such a way, they would of course want to just keep mum about their condition and let it hide inside instead. When I was laughed at, all I could think of was how I should keep my thoughts to myself, how I should be quiet about my pain and trauma the next time I was asked how was I.
This is where things get worse – as once hidden, these feelings, thoughts, emotions begin to fester inside, gauging the heart and the mind, spreading indescribable pain and torture. The mental anguish itself poses a threat to the sufferer and those around him, which would then grow even bigger with time.
It is very important that a person who is feeling suicidal to approach someone for help – it is also very important for that person to be heard. Most of the time, I felt like I have no voice – no one is bothered to hear me, what I have to say, what I need to get out of my chest. I’m always the listener – why wouldn’t anyone listen to me? – this is the kind of question that would circle around in the sufferer’s mind.
All we want and need is someone who would listen to us – and who would offer us support, a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on. How hard is it to offer that?
Suicide is a means to end – I don’t have to worry about my depleted life, the terrifying aspect of an empty future, the prospect of being forever alone. Therefore, the thought of committing suicide isn’t one filled with dread or worry, instead it is one filled with ecstasy that the root of the problems would be gone forever – that they wouldn’t need to worry and panic all the time any longer. The past too would no longer matter – we broke up, she’s found someone else? No worries, I don’t have to think about it come tomorrow. I wouldn’t be breaking apart this way any longer.
Does these kind of thoughts enter my mind? Yes.
Am I worried about these kind of thoughts? Yes.
Because I’m not ready to throw away my life. I want to serve people – or at lease entertain them with the words that I love to play/paint with.
I don’t want to ‘sneeze’ – I don’t want to give in to the impulse of ending my life without thinking of it. Granted, being able to wake up each morning to a new day is a gift, one that I should appreciate and yet, waking up each day, deciding that today is not the day I’ll be ending my life nor will I ever end it myself, is a difficult decision to make, one that I working hard on to ensure I never regret this decision.
Up until now, though I still have occasional anxiety attacks and breakdowns, I’m not letting it take control of me. I’m human though, sometimes it consumes me but I’m learning not to beat myself about it, not to hate myself for my weaknesses but instead embrace my flaw-full self and learn to grow from there.
And as I end this, I’m leaving my email up here to anyone who feels like they need someone to talk to but have no such person in their life. If you are contemplating suicide, remember that it is a choice, and so you can choose to either go on with it or stop yourself from doing it. How to know what choice to make? If you have such urges, give yourself a day, and think about it. Just because you feel like it, it doesn’t mean you have to do it then and there. Take a day, 24 hours, and do things differently on that day than you would normally do.
Email me, (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I promise to get back to you within that 24 hours.
You are not alone.
Other online sources of help:
- The Samaritans – trained volunteers are available 24 hours a day to listen and provide emotional support. You can call a volunteer on the phone, or e-mail them. Confidential and non-judgmental. Short of writing to a psychotherapist, the best source of online help.
- Talk to a therapist online – Read this page to find out how.
- Depression support group online: Psych Central Depression Support Group – Please note: this is a very big group, but amidst all the chatter, it is possible to find someone who will hear you and offer support.
- Psych Central has a good listing of online resources for suicide – and other mental health needs.
- Still feel bad? These jokes might relieve the pressure for a minute or two.
- If you want help finding a human being to talk with in person, who can help you live through this, try reading this article about how to Choose a Competent Counselor.
Sometimes people need additional private help before they are ready to talk with someone in person. Here are a few books you could read on your own in private. I know from personal experience that each one has helped someone like you.
- Suicide: The Forever Decision by Paul G. Quinnett, PhD (Continuum, ISBN 0-8264-0391-3). Frank and helpful conversation with a therapist who cares.
- Choosing to Live: how to defeat suicide through cognitive therapy by Thomas E. Ellis PsyD and Cory F. Newman PhD (New Harbinger Publications, ISBN 1-57224-056-3). Another conversational book with practical help for suicidal persons.
- How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention by Susan Rose Blauner (William Morrow, ISBN 0066211212). A very practical survival guide by an actual survivor.
- Out of the Nightmare: Recovery From Depression And Suicidal Pain, by David L. Conroy, PhD (Authors Choice Press, ISBN 0595414974). As if suicidal persons weren’t feeling bad enough already, our thoughtless attitudes can cause them to feel guilt and shame, and keep them from getting help in time. Dr. Conroy blasts apart the myths of suicide, and looks at suicidal feelings from the inside, in a down to earth, non-judgmental way. This is a book that will save lives by washing away the stigma of suicide and opening the door to a real way out of the nightmare.
You can check out this page too : http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/
Remember, you are not alone.