I Was Suicidal, and I Am Not Ashamed of It.
I was depressed for a generous portion of my young adult life.
For so long, it was much safer for me to take a pill, mask my pain, and suffer in silence than to open up to anyone. Because even when I did, I was hit with a barrage of comments about how unappreciative I was for the “life God had given me.”
I spent my whole life holding my wounds close to me, because the last thing I needed was to be shamed away from my feelings. I didn’t know who was safe. I buried it all deep inside where no one could hurt me. It’s easier to pretend the pain does not exist, because we live in a culture where people would rather be right about their opinion than compassionate toward the needs of others.
They’d use gaslighting tactics, and I didn’t understand this was abuse until too late. But I did understand that no one was accepting the way I felt. Somewhere along the way, the message becomes your story isn’t as…
“isn’t as” bad as someone else’s.
“isn’t as” important as that of the person sitting next to you.
“isn’t as” traumatic as you think.
… which makes you (more) depressed. And then your depression isn’t even about you, it’s about how your depression makes other people feel. You’re trapped, you don’t want to make anyone else feel bad about who you are, but you can’t help feeling how you feel. So you choose to honor this compulsion to hide your agony for the well- being of others.
I numbed myself to other people. I learned quickly I’d rather go on hating the world than letting anyone in it to help. I hated those who tried to love and light this out of me. I hated those who snubbed their nose at my bloody heart. Depression is waking up every day to a world not built for you.
We live in a culture that refuses to bear witness to someone’s depression. There’s this urge to fix it, but people don’t need fixing. We must open to the reality that someones depression is not ours to fix.
If we remove the need to fix, and sit with someone, we bear witness to their story. If we feel their emotions with them, we allow space to move through the experience and establish a foundation of authentic love and trust.
In my experience, the people I attempted to open up to were so uncomfortable with my emotions that they’d metaphorically run for the hills. They pretended for my sake, but I can feel the energetic discomfort. The more I dug into the rabbit hole, the more they were clawing their way out. I felt more damaged.
They were uncomfortable with my truth, and I was devastatingly embarrassed for ever believing I could share my mind demons with others.
It was years of suffering. It was slow, agonizing torment. Over time, you get buried in the dark caverns of your mind. There was only me, in my loneliness, suffocating at the hands of the monsters that spoke of my disgrace. There was no reason great enough, no person important enough. Nothing I cared enough about to pull me from the abyss.
I was locked in the prison of emotional abandonment, and it’d be days, weeks, or months before I came out, if I did at all.
And I did not care how much people said they wanted me or needed me to live. Because living was the very thing causing my suffering.
Depression (for me, and I assume for many) was evidence of emotional abuse. Did they really want my happiness? Or were they just tired of being uncomfortable around me? Did they crave my health? Or did they need me well so they could pour their emotional baggage into me? I couldn’t tell. I was drowning in my anguish.
I’d rather be alone, trapped in my own hell, would rather be dead than listen to anyone tell me they needed me.
On my worst days, there was no reasoning with me. I had already built my case. I gathered the evidence to support my thinking. I made my decision. People didn’t want me, or my story, or my feelings, or my too-much-ness.
One person can only deal with the intolerance for so long before they start contemplating their alternatives.
When I finally verbalized my suicidal ideations on the brink of madness, the trauma only worsened.
Who did I think I was?
How dare I think this way?
Don’t I see how good I have it?
What is wrong with me?
Don’t think that way!
What’s wrong with me is, society preaches, “If you need help, reach out.” Yet when I did, I was told, by those same people, “You’re fine! What do you have to be depressed over?”
What’s wrong is that the people who ask “Are you okay?” are not always prepared to hear the real answer. They’re not equipped to respond, or willing to dive into your pain with you.
What’s wrong is that our suffering interferes with the well-being of others.
I remember sitting in my room with a bottle of pills, ready to end it all. I took a few, and I’ll tell you, the only reason I didn’t continue was because I heard a voice in the back of my head saying, “Don’t bother, there’s not enough” (to kill me). Delusion or intervention? I don’t know. But I do know, it was the very moment I started believing in God. Because only God could have saved me from myself.
I was emptied of love, stripped of worth, and choking on hopelessness. I was suicidal, and I am not ashamed of it.
It took over a decade to climb my way from the rabbit hole. When I finally pulled my body up and out of the ground. I felt the sun, I felt purpose, I felt life. I found myself, on my own terms, in my own way. And I remember how damn good it felt doing so.
I took my understanding to those I loved. I explained how important it is, even now, to use compassion, kindness, and gentleness to communicate effectively (with me). The miracle is, they listened. When I was firm, when I expressed what I needed to thrive, it was work, but there was hope in my heart, maybe I’d never have to slip into the dragon’s lair ever again.
So please, find your compassion. Find your humanity. Depression is an endless sea of loneliness, isolation and pain. We have the evidence to support this thinking, your opinion over whether this is right or wrong is unnecessary. Your words are useless in the mind of someone who has been dancing with the devil of suicidal ideation.
Power lies in your presence, in your willingness to get comfortable with being uncomfortable so the suffering person knows you’re actually available and you’re not going to push them through just so no one has to feel so bad about it.
The most powerful thing you can say to a depressed or anxious person is, “I see you,” but you really have to mean it. You have to express this with both your words and your actions. If you intend to reach out, you cannot run away. You have to be willing to stand with that person in their darkest moments.
You have to release your judgments of what you believe this person needs, and understand that the only thing you can provide is your unconditional acceptance in seeing this person exactly as they are now.
Release your judgments, and go listen to your suffering friends. They need your love right now more than ever.
Robin Lynn or ‘The Mommy Healer’ works one-on-one with moms, children, and families through video chat sessions. She specializes in working with highly sensitive children and empathic moms (and dads). She works with the families’ needs, guiding them to respite, care, and healing through deeply exploring the brave and sometimes traumatic journey of parenthood. You could contact Robin via her website.