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 over—right 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.