But for the grace of God, there go I. Depression seems to be the “hot topic” of conversation these days, and I am glad for that. I am not glad for the reason for the attention to depression, but I am glad that people are becoming more aware that it is a real thing. I have struggled with depression on and off since I was 12 years old. At the age of about 20-21 years old, I asked a friend if they ever thought about suicide. They told me that they never had. I told them I thought about it every day. It was “normal” for me to think about killing myself every day. How would I do it? What would it do to my family and friends if I did? Would anyone miss me? Would anyone care? I had this conversation with this friend after I had spent the evening staring at a gun contemplating using it on myself. I praise God that I did not do it. What stopped me? First and foremost, God, but second, my Mom had told me as a kid that I would go to hell if I ever killed myself. As an adult, I don’t believe this thinking to be true, but I am so thankful she told me that because it kept me from doing it. It kept me from making a decision that would have taken me out of this world.
I would never have met my daughter. I would never have gotten to watch her grow into a beautiful young woman. I would have missed all of that.
That wasn’t the last time I thought about suicide. I have been on and off of medication since the age of 19 to help with my depression. I went off of my anti-depressants about a year ago because I felt like they weren’t working. I figured that my depression was circumstantial. I thought it would pass.
In the last year I have dealt with all of our kids moving out and moving on with their lives, the loss of my husband’s job, and his unemployment. Honestly, I was amazed at how well I felt, and how well I felt I was handling these situations. I knew it had to be the Lord giving me the sense of peace that only He can provide. While my husband was unemployed I ended up being able to go back to work. I was very excited about that because it was for a boss I had worked for on and off for the last 13 years. It was close to home. It paid well, and it was going to be part-time. I felt like I was running on all cylinders again. A friendship that I had had difficulties felt like it had healed (or was healing), and that made me happy. I could see God’s hand everywhere, and felt hopeful about my life for the first time in a long time. Although I did have moments where I felt the depression lingering, I was overall feeling better and hopeful.
Then on May 24, 2014, my boss (and friend) was tragically killed in a plane crash. He was flying a plane that he had built and they believe he had a heart attack during take-off. I went straight into denial. I couldn’t believe he was gone. I began to experience chest pain and the grief was overwhelming. I couldn’t stop crying. All of this is normal when there is grief involved, so I didn’t get concerned – yet. I went to work that Monday following his crash, and had the daunting task of calling clients and breaking the news to them. It was more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I continued to work for that week, and then (obviously) the job that I loved was over. The friend and best boss I’d ever had was gone. His wife was now a widow. His children had no more father. Everything that I was excited about, was over. The “things” that I felt were bringing me hope were now gone.
Now what? I threw myself into projects around the house. I knew eventually I would go back to work somewhere for someone so I wanted to take advantage of the time that I had to get some things done. I was feeling pretty good physically, so why not? Well, my body had other plans in mind. I have CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia, and stress can trigger a flare up. Turns out all the above stresses triggered me into a flare up like I hadn’t had in a long time. I ran a fever for over 2 weeks, had extreme kidney, lung and chest pain for quite some time, and depression came in and set up camp. I did two courses of prednisone treatments that helped a little bit, but it seems that my get up and go — got up and went. The doctor thought that the prednisone might even help my depression, which it did a couple of days. Then it came back like an unwelcome friend.
The only way I can explain a flare-up to someone who does not know is that it is much like having the flu, except there seems to be no end in sight. I felt so run down, sick, nauseated, headache, body pain, etc. so I spent/spend a lot of time either in my chair next to the window, or in bed. I prefer the window so I can at least see life. This is when I noticed that I have a drug dealer in my neighborhood, who also appeared to be running stolen property. He caught me taking pictures of him one day, and then another day the sheriff made a huge appearance outside his house. I’m sure Thief knew who had tipped them off. He, his family, his kids, his “friends” began to harass me. Hollering at me whenever I would leave the house, hollering at me when I would return. I began to get even more fearful knowing everything that was going on over there.
I have had a lot of contributing factors that have led to this current depression. Bad things people have said to me over the years will start going through my head — i.e. “you probably don’t really struggle with depression because the percentage of people who REALLY do is quite small.” Yes, that runs through my head as I’m struggling because then I think “you’re not really depressed.” I also think to myself that I’m just attention seeking. I’m over-exaggerating. I have also had well intentioned friends say “comforting” words to me such as “are you praying?” “Are you praying HARD enough?” “Have you fasted?” “You must have a demon.” Um, thanks.
This causes me to go further into myself because obviously sharing does not help. So I will suffer in silence. Depression is such an isolating illness — yes, mental illness. There. I said it. I am thankful for the friends that still stick with me through it all. I know it can be hard to be friends with me because sometimes I am not fun to be around, but God has blessed me with one friend who doesn’t care if I’m in a bad mood, if I’m depressed, is happy when I’m happy, cries with me when I cry, and just plain lives life with me.
What do you do for your friend who is depressed? Just be there for them. Check in with them. Call them. Text them. Email them. It doesn’t have to be every day — or even every other day. And please if you have nothing nice to comment, don’t comment at all. If you’re going to comment and give me your “cure all” — save it. Finally, while it is a passing thought on occasion (once in a great while) I have gotten to a place where I know things will eventually get better, and I know I would not ever commit suicide. People say “never say never” — but I couldn’t do that to my daughter. I’ve talked to friends who’s parent has done that, and have seen the devastation it leaves behind. I don’t ever want to cause that kind of pain. I know how to ask for help from my doctor and from counselors these days, and I’m not afraid to do that. I am also not afraid to call the crisis line, and have done so on several occasions. And that is okay.