On Ned Vizzini and Depression

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Before I start this post, I just want to clarify that I am not, in fact, suicidal (anymore). I don't think I ever truly was, but this post is just to show how gray the whole thing is. I do believe that there is a difference between depression and being depressed. This is about actual mental depression. And I'm not reaching out for help or screaming for attention. I just want to explain some things. I'm good right now. Cool? Cool.

Yesterday, we were shocked by the news of young adult author Ned Vizzini's death. It wasn't just his death that rocked us. He committed suicide after battling mental illness, depression, and anxiety.

Since then, I've seen a whole lot of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs about how we should speak out when we have problems with depression, tell someone when we want to hurt ourselves, and never let mental illness lead to suicide. I've seen many people come together, posting the Suicide Hotline number and other great resources. I've seen lots of this kind of stuff, and all of it has been great, but I need to speak out on the other side. Having been through some seriously dark bouts of depression with thoughts you can't even imagine, I feel like I need to let you all in on something.

It's not as easy as speaking out to someone. It's not as easy as remembering you are loved. It's not as easy as thinking, "This life actually is worth living for." Because if you had the thoughts and feelings I've had... If you've been truly clinically depressed and not just sad about awful luck in life... Then you know it's not just as simple as telling someone you want to hurt yourself or end your life. Until you know what that is like, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's wonderful that we're all speaking out about this and making it known that help can be found. I can truly appreciate all of the support for a condition such as this. Many things are possible with technology these days. We can reach out to each other in so many ways. But the more plugged in we are, the less connected we are. The less we can actually understand what others are going through.

What I don't want people to think is that it's just as easy as reaching out for help. I did reach out for help. I went to many different kinds of doctors. I wanted to work through my depression. And you know what they did? Offered medication after medication after medication.

I walked away from the ordeal with four different prescription medications and a suggestion for two others. This was not the answer for me. I did not want to drug myself up with meds that may actually make the problem worse. I did not want to hide the issue through pharmaceuticals instead of curing it and actually overcoming it. So I chose not to.

Was that the best choice? For me, it sure was. I'm not completely cured, but my head is much clearer, and I know my thoughts are at least my own. So when I have a strange thought run through my head, I'm able to somewhat think it through before it takes over.

Am I presuming Ned Vizzini was on medication? No. I have no idea what his situation was. I won't pretend to know. This post really doesn't have much to actually do with him and his life and death. But I do know that he had a wife and a two-year-old child, so his head had to be in a very bad place for him to kill himself. And it's possible even with all the love and success in the world. I promise you.

I suppose I am assuming that this had nothing to do with his environment. Depression doesn't have to come from an outside source. Our brains are very good at painting a very horrible, bleak picture of the world we live in, even if it is actually amazing and very blessed. Anxiety and panic attacks on top of depression make things spiral out of control very quickly. VERY quickly. And the feelings are so beyond uncomfortable... You have no idea if you haven't been there.

I've literally wanted to crawl out of my skin. I've thought about taking one of the many guns my husband owns and just shooting myself in the head to end the horrible feelings running through my body and awful thoughts bouncing around my head nonstop. Every day I'm faced with wondering why I don't have control over my life, why things are the way they are, and why I am even HERE. Why do we have life on this planet in the middle of a universe so large I can't even comprehend its size? And why was I lucky enough to receive it? Or am I actually horribly unlucky? Is life not the gift we think it is? Is life actually punishment for something? Or will my death be the worst punishment of all? I could have control of my fate and just find out if I...

Suicide not so unreasonable when my brain thinks about it sometimes. As scary as that sounds, it's just not. Living life may be more courageous, but death sometimes sounds like the only answer there is.

The why questions kill. And I can't stop them. The more I talk them through, the more I think of new questions to ask. And I still have zero answers. Will I ever get answers? I have no idea. I honestly try not to think of them, but my brain has its own agenda. And it usually sets off a panic attack.

I'm not sure if Ned Vizzini had panic attacks as well, but let me tell you about those. They are scary as hell, because even if your brain has said, "Eh, maybe we should just kill ourselves to be over this already," the panic attack makes you think you are dying and you realize you just aren't ready yet. And you start pleading internally for your life. You're sorry. You won't think about killing yourself again because you want to be here and you don't want your life to end. But when the panic attack finally settles (after ten minutes or even two hours) you start to think that going through that again could be the worst thing ever. And killing yourself would make that go away.

But will it? I don't think we know that. I have no idea what happens when we die. But the brain really does some tricky things, and from having been there, from being able to understand that kind of thought process, I can't possibly blame them for thinking that suicide might make it better.

I realize that saying that probably sounds awful. I'm not at ALL an advocate of suicide. I would never tell someone that they should just kill themselves to get it all over with. I'm just saying that I can relate to those thoughts, emotions, and feelings. And everyone saying that it'll get better and that nothing is worth killing themselves over probably hasn't been in my shoes. Certainly it can get better, and I'd agree that nothing is worth killing myself overright now.

In the midst of depression (especially with anxiety and panic on top of it), nothing seems like it's ever going to get better. Nothing seems worth living for. Nothing. Just nothing. Things that once made you happy sound like torture. People you once cherished don't even seem to matter. All that matters is ending the suffering.

I know why I ended up in my position. I don't know if it's so clear cut for other people. I just want people to understand that the thought process depression creates makes suicide a completely reasonable solution to the situation. Taking your own life actually feels like the right choice when depression is at its worst. Please understand that.

To Ned Vizzini's wife and child, this had nothing to do with you. I fully believe that you couldn't have loved him more. This situation probably would have happened with or without your love and support. So please try to not feel guilty or like you could have done something different.

To everyone else, thank you for your support of this mental illness. I don't think I know a cure, as mine was a different situation, and it luckily didn't last long enough to do too much damage. I was able to work through it, but obviously some people aren't. It's not because they didn't have enough support, and it's not because they didn't reach out. Sometimes the depression just skews things so badly that things just have to end. I truly think that people suffering from depression feel like nothing can be done. It's so uncomfortable and horrible that death is the only answer to make it end.

My life has been completely changed from my short bout with depression. I am perhaps one of the lucky ones, but I still am not sure. I think about death (specifically my own) several times a day, but now it's more curiosity instead of desire. I try to celebrate life when I can instead of wonder why I am here. If this truly is a gift, then I want to make the most out of it. Staying positive, getting off the computer, and reminding myself of things like this help a lot. But it's not a cure, and it won't work for everyone.

I just know that my thoughts on life have been flipped upside down and twisted so far that I'm not at all the same person I used to be. I understand what going through true clinical depression is like. Or maybe I don't. Maybe I only touched the surface. And if that's true, then I can only wish those who have committed suicide over it have found their peace.

I hope you can understand this post and why I wrote it. I love you all.

9 comments:

Jessi (Geo) said...

"Our brains are very good at painting a very horrible, bleak picture of the world we live in, even if it is actually amazing and very blessed."
This is very true. I can relate to this post because I've been there, too. I think it's great that you sought out help, even if it wasn't actually helpful. I never tried to go to a doctor for it because I knew they would just give me meds, and I never wanted to take antidepressants because they create more problems. A friend of mine said they made her angry. I already have anger issues, I don't need to make them worse! Plus I don't want to feel foggy all the time. Sometimes I have enough trouble making small decisions because I can't think clearly.

"Every day I'm faced with wondering why I don't have control over my life, why things are the way they are, and why I am even HERE. Why do we have life on this planet in the middle of a universe so large I can't even comprehend its size? "
There's many times I've thought this, too. I still do sometimes. Sometimes I feel detached from myself, and wonder what the point to anything is, why I'm here. Why does it even matter? Why is it relevant?
I could never, ever commit suicide. For one, I'm not that brave. I don't have the balls to hurt myself because I can't take pain. For two, I believe that suicide is one of the most selfish things someone can do because of the people they leave behind, wondering why. But, it doesn't stop those bad thoughts from trickling in sometimes. When you're driving and you wonder what it would be like to drive off that bridge. When you're cutting vegetables and you wonder what the knife would feel like on your veins. The thoughts still cross my mind even though I would never act on them. And it's not like I have any reason to feel like that…I have a good life. A fluffy life. I've never been through any TRUE hardships. I've had a few bad things, but nothing that severe that I should want to end it. It doesn't make sense that I should even feel like that. But like you said, it's the brain. I can't even begin to understand how it works, or how the chemicals work to make some people feel crappy and some people feel good.
Thankfully I was able to work through that phase in my life, and like you said, now those bad thoughts are just passing curiosity.

I love this post, and love that you are brave enough to speak freely about this subject. And THANK YOU for sharing that wonderful video, that was the perfect positivity that I needed today!

Michelle Kampmeier said...

Jessi,

I can barely put into words how much your comment means to me. Everything you've said are things that have crossed my mind. Especially the parts about being in the car and cutting vegetables. It's all happened in my head too. It's so weird how the brain works, but it's like a switch was flipped in my life, and the off position is no longer a choice. All I can think about some days is my mortality and if it's all for anything. If this life actually means anything at all. Because it makes no sense that we're here. In the scheme of things, planet earth is just a speck of dust, and the world is HUGE to us! So what are we? Ugh. It's scary and weird to think about.

Thank you so much for sharing your comments and feelings here though. I love the space my blog provides me, and I'm happy to share my thoughts if others can relate and know they're not alone.

I'm really glad you loved that video. I'm so happy to have found his positive presence. Sharing it is the least I can do. <3

Lastly, I want to mention the selfish aspect of suicide. While it may be a selfish thing to do, it certainly doesn't feel like that when it's actually a feasible solution. And I also don't think it's a reason to live when living feels SO HARD. We need to live for ourselves and find our own happiness, but life doesn't always feel like that. I hope that makes sense. :o)

Arianne Cruz said...

I was suicidal when I was in high school. Some people would think it's just another side effect of adolescence, but mine wasn't. Being sexually harrassed isn't a normal part of growing up. Having your family doubt your words is not normal. Fearing criticism for speaking out isn't normal. I was just too afraid of pain so I didn't go through it. I was also naturally a good kid to turn into a horrible person. Then again, how true is that really? I mean look at me now. I have connections all over the internet, cool things happening for me virtually. But my real life? I'm alone. Sometimes I like it that way. But half the time, I envy other people who have friends and family who truly care about them.

Yesterday I participated in a white elephant gift exchange at work. I got a big box of cookies. I wanted to share it with my coworkers, but they wanted me to take it home instead. I told them I had no one to share it with and pleaded for them to just take it. If I think about it too much, I'd feel sorry for myself. So now I've just come to accept that this Is my life. I rarely have any hopes of anything else. When something good happens to me, I cherish it.

I'm not suicidal anymore, and I'm thankful that I don't think about it anymore even with the situation I'm in now. I've accepted it.

Arianne Cruz said...

I was suicidal when I was in high school. Some people would think it's just another side effect of adolescence, but mine wasn't. Being sexually harrassed isn't a normal part of growing up. Having your family doubt your words is not normal. Fearing criticism for speaking out isn't normal. I was just too afraid of pain so I didn't go through it. I was also naturally a good kid to turn into a horrible person. Then again, how true is that really? I mean look at me now. I have connections all over the internet, cool things happening for me virtually. But my real life? I'm alone. Sometimes I like it that way. But half the time, I envy other people who have friends and family who truly care about them.

Yesterday I participated in a white elephant gift exchange at work. I got a big box of cookies. I wanted to share it with my coworkers, but they wanted me to take it home instead. I told them I had no one to share it with and pleaded for them to just take it. If I think about it too much, I'd feel sorry for myself. So now I've just come to accept that this Is my life. I rarely have any hopes of anything else. When something good happens to me, I cherish it.

I'm not suicidal anymore, and I'm thankful that I don't think about it anymore even with the situation I'm in now. I've accepted it.

Jessi (Geo) said...

It IS scary and weird to think about! I try not to think about it at all, because I start to feel insignificant and overwhelmed. What impact could I possibly have on the world? Besides maybe on the few people in my circle of loved ones…

It does make sense! It's hard to think about that when you're in such a dark place. Sometimes it doesn't matter how much you're loved or how many good things you have going on. Life still sucks sometimes =/

Mildred Verville said...

Dear Little One - I am sorry very sorry that you have gone through what you so eloquently express in your Post. You are amazing strong to be able to write about your experiences. I want to thank you for explaining to those of us who have watched from the outside what it is like for our loved ones to suffer these incredibly painful feelings. I now know more what my youngest daughter was going through in those times when she attempted to take her life and would not/could not express herself to those closest to her.

Thank you Little One; you are an amazing woman. I wish you peace in your heart and mind. Love, your adopted Mom

Danie S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danie S said...

As someone who has been hospitalized for clinical depression and suicidal thoughts, I completely agree with this whole post.

It isn't as easy as "talking to someone". I know in my case, I couldn't. The person who I did try to talk to, told me she "didn't have time". She was my best friend. And after that, I didn't want to burden anyone with my problems. I felt like I was a burden enough.

What people don't seem to understand is that depression is more than just a mental illness. It's physical as well. There were days where I literally could not make myself get out of bed. There were days where I would throw up for two hours straight. I lost weight. I gained weight. It was awful.

Am I out of the darkness yet? No, and I honestly don't think I will ever be completely out of it. There are still days where I want to just give up, throw in the towel. But now, I'm able to understand that these thoughts, while devastating at the time, will fade.

There's a blog post from one of my favorite blogs that I have saved to my computer for days when it's too much for me...


http://thebloggess.com/2012/04/depression-lies/

Erica said...

<3 Depression is complex. Definitely not a black & white answer to it. "It'll blow over." "It'll all be ok." "It's not the end of the world." "There's no reason to be sad." "You've got to look on the bright side." <---- IMO, all comments that make you MAD when you are the person on the receiving end. I think it's easy for some people to forget it is a sickness. It's not a choice and it's a sickness that can consume you. I definitely empathize with anyone struggling with it.

"Things that once made you happy sound like torture. People you once cherished don't even seem to matter." Exactly

Great post, Mickey.

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