I started to notice a change in myself around the time I was 15 or 16 years old. Teens are hard on themselves, especially girls IMO, but I felt like I was harder on myself than my other classmates and friends were at the time. While perfectionism and wanting to succeed aren’t negative traits, I seemed to be obsessed with achieving good grades and being involved in every school group I could be a part of. It was like if I wasn’t getting the best grade in the class or overachieving in my extra curricular activities, I got down on myself and felt like a failure. My senior year of school was the worst. Crying for no reason, letting little stupid things get to me all the time. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew it wasn’t normal.
My college years, for the most part, were not filled with extended depression times. After my first serious boyfriend broke up with my toward the end of my freshman year, I spent a lot of my time just being free and tried not to worry about life as much. Once I turned 21, I drank and partied quite a bit. Flirting with random guys at the bar boosted myself esteem and for a short time would make me happy. I lived for the partying and the attention from guys. That year from 21-22 is another story in itself which I’ll leave for another time.
I met my now husband a few months before I turned 22. Once we started dating, the partying started to decrease and I felt happier than I had in a long time. Nine months after we started dating, we were engaged and were hoping to marry as soon as we could. It was an exciting time for me and I was looking forward to my new life as a married woman. However, it all came crashing down when my mother was diagnosed with cancer seven months after we were engaged. The doctors gave her less than a year. Our wedding was going to be almost a year after her diagnosis. Over the next few months the doctors told her she had less and less time. My fiancee and I talked and agreed to marry in my parents house once my mom was sent home to die. All I wanted was for my mom to be there when I got married. I didn’t care if it was in a church or in an outhouse. I just wanted her there. She was sent home, but ended up back in a different hospital that same night. As the next few weeks passed, I was hopeful she would get come back home as she wasn’t declining and seemed to be improving.
One night I was up visiting her and she was eating BBQ chicken her friend’s husband had made. She was in a good mood and was feeling pretty good. I kissed her goodbye and told her I’d be up to see her the following day. At 6am my sister called me and told me I had to get to the hospital as mom wasn’t doing well. I didn’t think too much of it as we had been told my mom wasn’t going to make it at least three times prior to that and she was just fine. When I walked into her room, my dad and aunt were sitting at her bedside holding both her hands. She was breathing weird and unconscious. It looked like it was going to finally be the end. After a long day of sitting around with no changes, I decided to go home to my dad’s as I wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t want to be there when she died. I kissed her forehead and told her I was going home because I didn’t feel well. I knew she heard me as her eyebrows lifted and I could imagine her thinking “you are sick again?!” (I have chronic sinus problems so I was sick alot). A little before 4pm my brother in law called and said it was getting closer to her time of passing. A little after 4 he called again and said she had died.
After her death, my depression and anxiety kicked back in and it hasn’t really let up since. It’s been over a decade. I haven’t talked much about my depression to family. I casually mentioned it to my sister about a year ago and she said what alot of people say, “What do you have to be depressed about?” Those who don’t suffer from real depression (not just the down in the dumps, life sucks at the moment depression) just don’t get it. I’ve known several people, from older people to kids just a little younger than myself, since then who have taken their own lives. Some were people you’d have no idea they suffered from depression by the way they acted and how their lives seemed so perfect. Others I knew had suffered for many years. I’d hear friends say “how could they do this? It’s so selfish and cowardly.” When people take their own life, the ones left behind feel like the deceased didn’t love them enough or else they wouldn’t have done that. It’s so not true, but once you are dead you can’t tell them that. But I totally understood why they did it, and frankly I don’t blame them.
Sometimes, I was actually jealous they had the balls to do it. It’s a struggle for those of us who fight depression every day and eventually the struggle becomes too much. In my mind there isn’t anything anyone could have done to prevent the suicides. If it didn’t happen then, it would have happened later in some way, shape or form. The thought of suicide is always at the back of my mind. The only reason I haven’t tried it is because of my kids and my family. I feel it’s better for me to suffer alone in silence than to cause the ones I love pain and question my love for them. So I sit here and hope that one day I’m diagnosed with some terminal disease or accident and I can quietly leave this world in a way where my family will not question my love for them. That sounds pretty sad and it is, I admit that. There just comes a point where you don’t know where to go anymore and the fight becomes too much for one person to deal with.