Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Depression Monster

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to share my experiences with this topic.  I have been sitting here for 2 hours trying to type this up. Trying to outline it like a formal paper.  Trying to figure out how to be elegant.   Trying to give this the “respect” I think it deserves.  It’s not happening.  So, I’m just going to start typing and try to regurgitate my memories of dealing with this monster as best I can. 

Uncle Clyde and me. June 1989

I have dealt with depression and anxiety for a very long time.  The first time I vividly remember being depressed was when I was 12.  I don’t think I realized there was a term for it, but I knew it was something far more than just “sad.”  It was also the first time I thought that maybe the idea of death wasn’t so bad. Whether the pre-pubescent angst of “I wish I were dead!” or the start of teen depression, it was a very real thought and it was scary.   

I continued to have thoughts of suicide over the next few years. Then in April of 1987, due to family and school drama, I decided that dying was far more appealing than living.  I took a handful of prescription pills that belonged to my grandma and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night dizzy and sick to my stomach.  I did not tell my parents about it because I knew that would lead to even more drama. Weeks later, when my mom DID find out, she did not know how to handle it. Instead of seeking help for me, she said “Great. I have a nutcase for a daughter.” The topic was never brought up again.  I’ve long since forgiven her. She was dealing with her own issues and needed help every bit as much as I did.

I used to believe that I was depressed solely due to my environment and circumstances. But after leaving home when I turned 18, the depression did not go away. And as I grew older, I learned that it had as much, if not more, to do with genetics as it did with my environment.  Depression runs in my family.   On my mom’s side and on my dad’s.  It’s why my mom was not able to deal with my depression. She hadn’t yet dealt with her own. It’s why we suffer from addictions. It’s why my dad was not able to be part of my life for so long.   It’s why on September 3, 1992, one of the greatest men I knew, walked out on a beach in Provincetown Massachusetts, held a gun to his head and took his own life.  I will never know all the reasons my Uncle Clyde felt death was his only option, but I do know depression and addiction were the real killers.  

The path leading down to the beach where my uncle spent his last moments. A beautiful place. As morbid as it sounds, I understand why he wanted to be there.

Thoughts of suicide still haunt me.  There are days, though now few and far between, when I feel death would be preferable to life.  But I refuse to leave my children with that legacy.  I refuse to let the temporary feelings of despair lead to permanent grief for those I love.  Because those feelings are just that, TEMPORARY.  And they do not erase the joy and the love that I feel on the good days.  And the good days now far outnumber the bad ones. 

Recently, I came to the realization that God had a plan for me when I got pregnant at such a young age.  I was given a gift. I was given something that I felt was worth living for. For that, I am eternally grateful. 

The rose bush near the hotel room where my uncle spent his last days.


  1. Thank you for sharing something so intimate, so personal. I understand the feelings of death being more comfortable than life. But I do believe there is another plan. If you had succeeded that night so long ago, I never would have known you. And that would have been a tragedy. xoxo

  2. Beautifully written Sweetie! Wish I would have known you and could have been there for you when you were younger. I applaud you for your strength and love all that you have brought to our family, you are a very special and caring person. We are blessed to have you in our lives! I am also thankful the bad times are so much less than they were in your earlier years. Always here for you Sweetie! Love you and miss you lots! Sending you lots of (((HUGS)))! Aunt T

  3. My beautiful and intelligent niece, you are so important to so many people. You need to know that there are so many others that pray for you and send good thoughts your way because of the person you are. When I'd seen you for the first time after many years at your high school graduation, it was if a treasure had been re-found. The fact that you are sharing on your blog the past turmoil proves that I am correct in thinking you are the person you are. You are putting yourself out there to help others even though you are revisiting painful memories. I will always be here for you. I Love You! Uncle Dave

  4. It truly takes courage to speak openly of things that are typically treated as 'unspeakable'. I believe sharing tough topics can have a positive healing affect on ourselves and also helps others to not feel so, so alone or weird. My own mother told me she had had desperate thoughts during a very difficult time & single parent. But, she said it was the thought of 'what would happen to her 5 children?' that helped her to pull herself through it. Counseling was not an option and she had no one to talk to. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you for all the kind words. I'm still a bit stumped on how to respond. Just know that I really appreciate all the comments.