September is Suicide Prevention Month. I think it’s important that I share this in case it might help others. Without encouraging words from others when I was younger, I don’t know if I would have made it this far.
For most of my life I have had issues with depression. I remember even as a child that I would feel unreasonably sad. This led to tantrums/acting up which led to punishment. As a teenager the depressive episodes only became worse. This may have been partly chemical/hormonal but also because of all the trauma I was dealing with in my home life (abuse). I didn’t know at the time that it would be a life-long battle. Back then I really thought that once I got out of the situation that I’d be able to live happily ever after. I held on to this hope into adulthood and marriage.
Once I began having children, I knew I had to do something about my depression. Happily ever after wasn’t completely working out. My husband and I would vex each other with our clashing baggage. I entered therapy for the first time when I was pregnant with my daughter. I wanted to deal with the depression so that I could be a better mother. It did not go well. The therapist basically told me that I needed to “just get over it” (the abuse and the depression).
When my daughter was one year old I tried again. This was the early 1990’s and there was actually much attention and coverage of the suffering/issues of those who had gone through abuse as children (physically, sexual, etc). Axl Rose was on the cover of Rolling Stone with an article detailing with the abuses he had suffered and how he was getting therapy for it. Tori Amos was the first spokesperson for RAINN. She wanted to help others after releasing the song “Me and a Gun” about being raped. However, the downside was that Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)/Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) was an in vogue hot topic at the time and hugely over-diagnosed. This is unfortunately what the second therapist I visited tried to talk me into. He worked through the university we were attending at the time and I’m sure he thought I’d make a great source for some scientific paper. I left after a few sessions.
I tried therapy again when my daughter was three. This time I tried group therapy as well as individual therapy. It was much more beneficial. The individual therapist concluded that I did NOT have DID/MPD and helped me through a few of my issues. The group therapy also helped me work through a number of issues but, most importantly, I didn’t feel as alone or as crazy.
Still, with all this therapy to improve myself in my 20’s I still didn’t pick up the pattern. I still thought somewhere out there I could reach my happily ever after if only I could just work through all the debris from the abuse. I was blind. I needed time to mature and perhaps to heal more as well.
I’m older now. I look over my sporadic journaling and it’s rather dark. I seem to write/journal more when I’m depressed. If someone were to just view these journals, it would seem that I’ve never known a moment of peace. That is, however, not the whole story. When I am not depressed (or angry) I can know some measure of happiness and can be extremely productive.
It’s important at this stage in my life that I can identify this pattern of depression. I know when it’s sliding over me. I know better what to do to protect myself. I can somewhat block it from coloring all of my life/my memories with bleakness. Most importantly, I know that it’s not going to last forever.
I have heard the saying about suicide, “Don’t solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution.” When you are in the throws of depression it colors everything as bleak. When I was depressed, if I read my journaling, it all looked very permanent – like moments of happiness were when I was just fooling myself. I was lucky I never did do myself permanent damage but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some close calls.
I hope through this honesty I may help someone else out there. I have come to benefit from the honesty of others on the net such as Jenny Lawson and Allie at Hyperbole and a Half. Thanks!
Suicide Prevention Resource Center