August 12, 2014

On depression and suicide

Trigger warning: I'm gonna talk about some dark stuff for a minute. It wasn't what I'd planned to write about today, but considering the events of yesterday, and some of the responses I've seen to them, this feels more appropriate.



One summer, not long after I had graduated from college, I thought about killing myself.

I was working a mindless, thankless job, for a company I didn't believe in. I had a college degree but didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no ambitions and no prospects. I felt lost.

I was living with two roommates: a coworker who was engaged and out of town 90% of the time and her really weird sister who was at her parents' house 90% of the time. I slept in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed I had inherited from previous roommates, ate my meals on the floor because we didn't have any furniture, and listened to a lot of Travis, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Death Cab for Cutie. I felt lonely.

I was sort of dating a boy I cared about deeply, but only as a friend. I knew the relationship was doomed and that we were a hot mess together. At one point he told me he was considering suicide, and I drove home while fighting one of the worst panic attacks I've ever had. Another time he told me I was dead inside and incapable of normal healthy relationships. I believed him. I felt broken.

The few times I attended church, nobody spoke to me, not even to have me introduce myself as a new person or visitor. I don't know if they even knew I was there. I didn't want to go back because I wasn't even sure why I was going. I felt invisible.


From the outside I'm sure I seemed to have it together. I was a new college grad with the entire world at my feet! I was working a steady job with good benefits and the potential for advancement! I lived in a beautiful condo in a beautiful city! I had a boyfriend! I went to concerts and movies and knew all the cool kids! I was tanned and thin and young and relatively attractive! My life was fantastic!

And yet.

One night I found myself in the bathtub contemplating my razor. Where should I cut first? What would it feel like? How much blood would I see before I passed out? How long before the scalding water would get cold? Who would find me? And what would they do?

That was what snapped me back to reality and got me out of the tub. I was certain that the weird sister would be the one to find me, naked and dead in the bathroom, days after the fact. The idea was repulsive.

I didn't want my parents to be appalled and embarrassed by my actions. I didn't want my friends to speculate about why I did it. Quite frankly, I didn't want that to be the last way anyone saw me. My pride and selfishness overrode my desire to feel better...because I just knew that if I died I would feel better.

That was the last time I seriously considered suicide. I moved to a new apartment with my best friend shortly after that. My sort-of boyfriend broke up with me. I eventually made some marvelous new friends, quit my job, and had some amazing experiences. Just over a year after the night I thought about killing myself, I met David and we all know how much better things have been with him around.

I'd had some depressive episodes before that one and a few since then, but nothing even close to that summer. My current mental issues are more about anxiety than depression. I have a strong support system, great medication, and some coping mechanisms that help me when I start heading into the dark places in my brain. I am doing well.

But I am lucky. Not everyone is able to fight their illness as successfully as I have thus far. Sometimes people choose to jump from a burning building because the pain inside it is just too much to handle.

Please know this:

1) Depression is a disease. It cannot just be "cured" by trying harder, or even by sufficient prayer and fasting. Prayer is good, don't be me wrong, but it's not always enough. Lifestyle changes, medication, therapy, and the constant love and support from family and friends are the best ways to help keep it in check.

2) Suicide is not selfish. It is a defense mechanism for someone who is hurting and desperate. It is heartbreaking and tragic for those left behind, especially when they don't understand why. But its victims should be pitied and loved, not condemned.

3) Empathy is critical. People who deal with depression don't need a guilt trip, they need kindness. They don't need flippant remarks, they need loving words. They don't need you to pretend it's not a problem, they need validation and support.

Last but not least, if you are depressed or anxious or hurting in some way, you are not alone. If you need kindness, loving words, validation and support, send me an email (nothingnothingblog @ gmail . com). I want nothing more than for you to feel peace and joy and hope. If I can help, I will, in any way I know how.

Thank you, friends, for being a strength in my life so that my crazy brain doesn't take control. I love you so very very much. Hugs all around.

30 comments:

  1. I love you! You are so amazing! I have always looked up to you in so many ways! I am grateful to have you as my sister! I could not have chosen a better person to grow up with and learn so much from! Thank you for being "MY" sister!

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    1. I love you too, dear. Thanks for being my sister.

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  2. Crying. that is what I am doing right now. I have read no less than 5 blog posts of women that I admire and respect that have come forward about their thoughts and experiences about depression and suicide. It blows my mind that such seemingly put together women can have had such dark and sad days behind them. I too have been in that proverbial bathtub once before in my life after a long time of dealing with domestic violence from a parent and thought that I was worthless and didnt matter and after a sad relationship that I only entered into to get attention and looking for someone to love me ended because of problems of his own that had to be worked out I felt alone and empty. It took a long summer of tears and root beer floats and talks with my mom and the one other person that has never strayed from my side to recognize that I was worth saving and I was worthy of love and this life I have been given. I think that this is why blogging is so dear to me because it gives us the ability to share our story so that other people can connect with it and know that they are not the outsider, they are the normal and normal is hard, but it is worth it and that one persons struggles can be so different from another and yet resonate so deeply with them. There is my mini blog post that I have written in my head a million times but never published and now it goes live from your blog lol. I feel like you will get it and understand and not judge me or love me less because I have felt that way before. love.

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    1. No judgement here. Never. I love you and am so happy to hear that you're in a better state of mind these days. You are worthy of love just exactly the way you are. You are enough. Thank you for feeling comfortable sharing this with me, sweet friend.

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    2. You've always been worth it Chrissy! It's amazing how difficult struggles and the wrong person can make us feel like we aren't. I am so glad life found you in the upside again!

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  3. I too have been in those dark places at times in the past. My depression didn't tend toward suicidal thoughts, but I distinctly remember one night that I knew if I ever cried that hard again something inside me would break and I would never be the same again. So many of us have struggled through these things. Dark or not, it's nice to hear each other's stories and gain strength from each other. I had a mini period of feeling like I was heading back into depression a few months ago and it reminded me what an awful place that is. Here's to all of us doing those things you talked about to help keep it at bay.

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    1. I agree: we can and should gain strength from each other's stories. Thank you for being will to open up too. Hugs.

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  4. I love this so much. Thank you for showing this side of the story. All this just makes me think about how much more kindness and charity we would have for the people around us if we could only see what they have been through and how much they might need it. Seems like there isn't one of us that hasn't been in a dark, scary place at least once or twice in their life, and I really admire you for having the bravery to share your story! Love you lots, Jen!

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    1. Thanks. We just never know what burdens people are carrying. A little kindness goes a long way. Love you too!

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  5. Thanks for sharing this, dear Jen. It's so important that we as a so inert realize that this is real, and it's not just something hat you can fix by thinking happy thoughts or getting enough exercise or changing your diet. Do those things help? Absolutely. But depression is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes, and we have got to destigmatize it

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    1. And autocorrect strikes again--that should have been "we as a society," although perhaps "inert" is an appropriate way to refer to society...

      (In related news, I need to stop commenting from my iPad.)

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    2. Exactly. We support our friends who struggle with other ailments; we need to provide that same support for those with mental health issues as well.

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  6. Argh, getting cut off. Anyway, I find it so tragically appropriate that Robin Williams, who brought so much joy to so many, died from inescapable sorrow. We do such a good job of hiding our inner pain.

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  7. Jen, I cyberwandered into your post, and I’m glad I did. There’s a lot of Venn diagram crossover with what you’ve written and with what I’ve often been too scared to write. Kudos.

    Much love.

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    1. Love to you too, cuz. And kudos to you...I always love a good Venn diagram reference.

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  8. Thank you for being so brave Jen and posting this! There are people out there that need your story.

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    1. Thanks, friend. I hope it helps someone in some way.

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  9. I love you.

    But you know that already.

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    1. And I love you back. That shouldn't be news either, though.

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  10. Bless you for writing this. I am SO ANGRY at the people who are saying the antidote to depression is "joy!" because...no. Just no. I don't understand how people can still be so in the dark about mental health issues. They are illnesses, not affectations.

    You are so brave to write so starkly about your experiences. Lots of love and hugs!

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    1. Right? If you're incapable of feeling joy, how are you supposed to even access it as an antidote? But how can people know if nobody tells them. I don't feel very brave writing about this; I just feel frustrated that it's news to anyone. I'm glad I can get it out there and hopefully help people learn and react in better ways to mental health issues.

      Love and hugs right back! Thanks for all the support!

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  11. I'm so glad to read that you turned your life around! Hugs!

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    1. Thanks Erica! I'm glad things are better too...so very very glad. :)

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  12. I so applaud your courage to open up about the deepest pains of your heart. You certainly aren't alone, and this posts have a way of finding people going through the same thing, who need someone to reach out to!

    It's amazing to me how this topic hits everyone at some point in life, whether chronic or situational, the struggle is real. This was a great reminder to me to show a little more love in the world, even to those who look like they have it 100% together!

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    1. And you should know I've always loved you. From the second you showed up to Lydia's dressed to kill with a braided frock and so honestly stated how exhausted you were with a new child. I was like- stylish, real, honest, and you just know where you stand. You are my kind of girl! Thanks for another reminder of this. What would the world be like if we could just all openly say "I'm struggling with this right now?" A very different one indeed!

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    2. Thank you for all of this. And seriously: a little love and open honesty would go a long way.

      For the record, you are my kind of girl, too!

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. So many of us suffer from depression and suicidal ideations but we keep quiet. Talking and sharing will help decrease the stigma.

    I am glad that you have found positive things in life and it sounds like you are doing much better! :)

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  14. Hi, I'm new here. My good friend Mike Rutkowski pointed me to your blog last week because apparently we have a lot in common. First, your kids are as blond as mine (isn't it the best?!). Second, I'm a foodie. I love your cakes page and your post on the flat whisk. I get really excited about seeing people's cool kitchen toys. And finally, the real reason Mike directed me here, is because I also feel a lot of anxiety mixed with depression and occasional thoughts of suicide. I started blogging about it about a year ago (after hiding in shame for years). It feels really good to finally get it all out in the open and learn who I really am after I peel off the layers of mental illness. It's also very refreshing to read about other people's experiences for two reasons. First, it makes me feel less like a crazy person knowing that it's really a pretty normal experience that a lot of normal people have. Second, I feel proud of people who can take the hard step of making themselves vulnerable and sharing their feelings with others. It's a brave thing to do, and it is so worthwhile.

    I just wanted to say thanks for sharing. I'd like to talk to you sometime, maybe just over email or something, about your experiences. My blog is at http://www.begtobespared.blogspot.com, and feel free to email begtobespared@gmail.com anytime. I'm happy to be a support for you (or anyone else reading this) should you ever need me.

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  15. We need to be friends. Like, IRL friends. Let's lunch, or breakfast, or dinner, or brunch or SOMETHING sometime so we can talk about anything and everything. I kind of like you, Jen Bosen. :)

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