I’ve been sitting here for two hours. Perched in front of my front windows on top of one of my kitchen barstool chairs. The windows are open and the cool breeze from this gloomy day causes me to wrap up in a blanket. It’s one of those days where if it’s not down pouring it’s misting, as if the world is determined to keep everything wet for the entire day. I love it. I love the smell of rain on asphalt, the pitter-patter of raindrops falling from the roof onto the leaves of the bushes. I love the way everything looks a bit gray and for once I know the world is meant to be gray and it isn’t just my depression fogging my vision. It’s like rainy days were meant for those with depression, to make them feel comfortable and know the world can cry with you and you aren’t alone. One of my favorite quotes is “sometimes you need to cry out all your tears to make room for a heart full of smiles.” Well I think some days the earth just needs to cry too, to let the sunny days be that much more beautiful.
I’m sipping from my favorite mug, painted with leaves and a giant pumpkin depicting my favorite time of year, Fall. And as I type tears are streaking down my face. Slowly but surely they hit the keyboard and for the life of me I can’t understand why I’m crying. What is wrong with me that these tears occur so randomly that half the time I don’t know that I am crying? Why am I not just happy all the time? Well I suppose the answer is simple and yet not simple all at the same time. I’ve been suffering from severe depression since I was in 7th grade. I’ve probably been suffering from it my whole life, but it wasn’t diagnosed until then. For the longest time after I was diagnosed even my parents were unsure of just what depression was. I’d constantly get the “why are you so sad,” “cheer up it’ll be fine,” “you have a great life there is nothing to be upset about,” etc and so forth. Well how do I explain something that is so much deeper than just sadness, something that isn’t a common cold that will pass in a few days, something that affects you every single day even if you’re smiling and seemingly happy? I have read so many pieces on living with depression and it’s explained so well. But now trying to talk about my life with it, how do I explain so others can understand, relate, or learn? I suppose I’ll start from where it got so bad that I almost lost my life.
I was 18 years old and it was my first year of college. University of Tampa here I come! I was so excited, I was getting out of my hometown, getting away from people I hated, memories that haunted me, and finally spreading my wings. Ah the warmth of Florida. There were endless opportunities to head to one of the many sandy beaches. Not to mention the amount of very attractive men at this school. Yup, it was going to be a good college experience. A few weekends in I met him. His name was Josh. He had piercing blue eyes, a smile that lit up a room, and a personality that would get a whole room laughing. He was it. I never believed in love at first sight until I met him. I saw him standing next to his friend, who ironically was the one chatting me up, and I just knew I was going to be with him. No offense to his friend, but I just couldn’t stop getting this feeling when I looked at Josh. Later that weekend I went to a party that Josh’s friend had invited me too. Josh and I started talking, we started drinking, and then eventually we ended up playing some beer pong together. The connection was immediate and I felt so giddy, the way only a naïve 18 year old could feel. Within two months of hanging out and seeing each other we decided to start dating. I was over the moon. My first college boyfriend, two years older than me, attractive, fun, and totally into me, I couldn’t believe my luck. We went on dates to the movies and out to dinner. Every Sunday we would make a steak dinner at his dorm. Days faded into weeks and things seemed perfect. I visited him and his family over Christmas vacation and I fell completely in love with him.
By the time second semester came around I was starting to get homesick. Looking back now I think it was less of being homesick and more just realizing Tampa was not the place for me. I often relate University of Tampa to that show the Jersey Shore. Every single girl was stick thin and blonde and all the guys were muscle machines addicted to the gym. It just so happens that this was the year I dyed my hair black from its natural dirty blonde and said the hell with looking like a Barbie, and instead of tanning poolside I stuck my nose in any book I could find. I could feel my unhappiness growing and my depression taking its toll on me, I was becoming more of a recluse with every passing day. I think Josh started to notice a change in me too because we started fighting more. I can’t even remember our fights, all I can remember is the pain they caused me. Every time we would take a break or not talk I felt like I couldn’t breath. I know many of these fights I caused but I also know now many of them were him too.
I ended up flying home periodically and I went back to my psychiatrist as my depression started to become unbearable. He put me on Prozac. I thought it was helping. Of course medicine would help that’s what it’s for is it not? It actually turns out that Prozac is what caused my depression to get out of control. I turned crazy, I fought with Josh about things that were so mind blowing, I was clingy and dependent, I talked about killing myself every other day. I was in such bad shape that by the time the year was over I had already applied to schools back home and knew I was not coming back to Tampa. Over the summer Josh and I had a hard time figuring out how our relationship would work long distance since I was set to start my sophomore year at University of Connecticut. We decided to make it work and stay together, and I was so grateful for this. I was optimistic, I was starting at a new school, I was going to make new friends, and I still had Josh.
November 2nd of 2010, Josh broke up with me. This time it was real, we couldn’t manage the long distance, the fights were out of control, and it just wasn’t going to work out any more. My heart was broken. I cried and cried and cried. I had never felt a pain so deeply than when this break up happened. I think I felt it so immensely because of my depression and because the medicine was enhancing my depression a thousand fold. I often wonder if I had not been on that medicine how much different would things have gone for me. A few days passed, I wouldn’t leave my bed, I wouldn’t eat, I didn’t go to classes. I stared at the bottle of Benadryl on my nightstand and I planned my death. I was going to have my parents pick me up and I was going to go home for the weekend. I wanted to be in the comfort of my house, of the familiar. I was going to take the whole bottle of pills and I was going to lie in bed and reach for deaths hand. And it almost happened exactly like that.
I came home and went to my bedroom. I sat at my desk and worked on homework. I wrote a letter to Josh. I was ready. I took 55 pills, three swigs of water, and I sat down on my bed. My heart began to pound and I began to panic. What had I just done? I went down stairs and told my mom what I’d done. I think she may have yelled at me, but honestly by this point I was starting to get a little delirious from the pills. I remember my parents driving me to the hospital, and talking to them about my sorority and them telling me they couldn’t understand what I was saying I was talking so softly. In my head I was speaking normally, if not yelling, and I didn’t understand why they couldn’t hear me. I remember checking into the hospital and being rushed into the E.R. I remember thinking the heart rate monitor machine was my friends cell phone and telling her to answer it although no friends were there, and the curtains being designed with characters from Disney when they were really just flowers. I remember apologizing to my parents. And then everything went black. I don’t remember three days of my life. All I know is when I came back to it I was in the I.C.U. I had been so close to death that they had put me in the intensive care unit for four days. I vaguely remember after coming out of it that a few of my friends had come to visit, that I hated the night nurse a lot because he was rude, and talking to some women about the letter I wrote Josh.
I then spent the next two days in the psych ward. You’ve certainly reached rock bottom when you spend a few days there. All I can remember now from that time is just how much I missed being home. How much I wanted to read Harry Potter, lay down on the hard wood floors of my house, take a bath, and eat some cheese. After I was able to return home, time passed slowly. I was pulled from school for the rest of the semester, I constantly had to go to different psych appointments, and I hated life after my suicide attempt. It really makes you realize you never want to try that again for how much it stinks afterwards being treated like a child.
I tried to hang out with friends more often just to get out of the house and in the few weeks after my stay at the hospital I met DJ. At the time he was still in high school and to me he was just a really funny, silly kid. He instantly became my best friend. We were both not up to too much good back then. We would take handles of vodka with us everywhere. We’d drive too fast and eat gross foods and just have the best time. I never saw anything more to him than my friend, even though at times I swear I was developing a crush. But I wasn’t over Josh yet, and I wasn’t for a long while. It wasn’t until we realized the medicine wasn’t helping and I stopped taking it and it got out of my system did things start to turn around. I started dating someone else, I went back to school, I got a job. I drank a lot and partied too much and gained weight and just went a little crazy. But I wasn’t on a path to killing myself anymore. Eventually I started to take school more seriously, I transferred again to a school closer to home, I over loaded on courses and worked two jobs. I stopped drinking and cut a lot of harmful people out of my life. I broke up with the boyfriend I had been with at this point for four years. I started talking more to DJ who was now currently in the military stationed in Japan. I went to Hawaii for the fourth of July to visit him since he was doing a training op there for a month. I needed a breather from my life. It was that weekend that sealed the fate of DJ and me. We loved each other and I think we always had, at least he will tell you he loved me the second he met me, I just took a bit longer to come around. We started dating long distance and face time was our best friend, I graduated college with honors, and I then flew to Japan for two weeks to be with DJ.
Now current day, DJ is stationed in NC and we’ve moved in together. DJ has since proposed and we’re set to be married in November, 6 years from when I tried to take my life.
This may have seemed like your typical broken hearted story, but for me it’s about how my depression made such ordinary events, college and heart break, far worse than any one should ever go through. I wake up every day so glad I am where I am today. I know that I will never attempt to hurt myself again. I know I am happy and that life is good. That doesn’t mean depression doesn’t still eat its way at me from time to time. Some weeks it is there in full force and other weeks I hardly notice it. It is my companion in life. We all have something we hold a hand with for our entire life and depression is the one I walk with. Sometimes it drags me down and other times I pull it along and say “not today sucker.” I don’t let it control me the way it once did and I find ways to manage. I find the beauty in life and I talk openly to more people when I am upset, when before I wouldn’t let myself talk to others in fear of being a bother. I read all the time and let myself escape into other lives or far away worlds. I don’t take medicine.
Depression is with me this week and I cry and think about suicide at times, but then I think about life and I think about what I have and how far I’ve come and I just remind myself, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many out there who suffer from this darkness and I just want them all to know there are always people you can turn to for help. Even if you are like me and hate psychiatrists, reaching out to friends, family, or strangers can be the best thing in the world. And no, you are not being annoying, selfish, or seeking attention. I’ve heard it all before but know you’re not alone, for every person who doesn’t understand there is another who does. Find the right people, find the beauty, and don’t let depression drag you down. My life with depression has been a hard one, but it is still my life and I intend on keeping it.