And that is where I found myself one day in my late 20’s—filled with melancholy and heavy with a depression that made my skin hurt. I was no longer able to find joy in anything. Not in being a mother, which has been one of my life’s greatest joys, not in exercise, food, or sex. I just wanted to die, but I was too afraid to do anything about it. As I lay down to sleep each night, I was ok if I didn’t wake up the next morning. I was tired of existing.
But hurting yourself is not the answer. And if your attempt is unsuccessful, there are painful tubes and an unintended vacation to locked parts of the hospital. A long story for another time. The point is this getting to a place where you can no longer find ANYTHING worth living for, even your child, is sad to think about. It’s even worse to live through. But I did. I survived. And so will you.
After realizing that I no longer wanted to live and that I was a crappy parent, I called a friend and told her my brain was sick and that I needed to get help. For some reason, I remember that it was so important that I said the words aloud. I called a mental health crisis hotline and made an appointment to get some help. Fortunately, I had nothing else to do. I was laid off and on the verge of homelessness. I had inappropriate boundaries, which meant that telling someone “no” was painful. I was unable to handle the slightest thought of stress.
If you were to speak to anyone that knows me today, they would not believe I was ever that person. I am grateful for the lesson and even more thankful that part of me is a distant memory. I still know her, and we speak occasionally, but we don’t spend time together anymore.
It just so happens that during this rough time, I had also started my journey into my spiritual practice and what would be many years of therapy.
I often meet people that assume that my sunny disposition is effortless. While it is today, it has not always been. I didn’t just hop out of bed one day with a smile and a perfect glass of lemonade. Some days there was just sugar or water. Some days just lemons. More days than not, in the beginning, there was just ....and an empty glass. A glass that I learned to be grateful for, whatever the contents.
Until the last few years of my life, all that I had learned was not difficult to apply. But then, last year, I began to have days that turned into weeks where I was barely existing. I was floating through my days on autopilot. And then I was stuck and then left reeling from the betrayal of family and friends. The death of my nephew was devastating. I was done.
I ended up in my Drs office sobbing uncontrollably. I had been using all my energy to appear ok. When I was not ok. What I was, was numb. And deeply sad. And I was deeply disappointed. I wasn’t angry with God. I didn’t need people coddling me. I just needed to find a way to settle this for myself. As a spiritual being, I understood all of this. It is the human part that was no longer capable of coping. Losing a young person is so unfair.
I felt utterly robbed. As if we have the right to imagine a future for our loved one’s lives.
I felt guilty crying. Both of my sons were down the hall, and I was still able to hold them. Suddenly, I was constantly aware of all the possibilities I had imagined for his life. Him dying before me was not what I had envisioned. I’m supposed to go first, it’s a seniority thing. First in, first out, right? And I had to be ok because I love both of his parents dearly. How was I supposed to check on them if I’m hurting?
It was when chatting with a friend that I realized that I had lost my words. He told me to write despite my inability to form whole thoughts. Even if my words were senseless, just write. So, I did. I wrote. I just never hit publish.
The last time I felt this hurt was when I had a miscarriage. It took me five years to find words remotely close to the pain I felt then. I thought it was the pain that took my voice, and at first that was true. In the end, it was a vicious cycle of fear and all the things unsaid that made me silent.
Today, I have enough strength to fight my way from under the ambush of melancholy upon my heart. Today, I realize that pain, whether emotional or physical, must be managed. Now I am aware that when I become blank. I am not ok. And that is ok for a while. My silence only becomes toxic when I swallow my words and begin to choke on them.
Today, I am honest with myself and assess my wellbeing frequently. When I feel that I am losing my way I reach out to people I trust or get back into therapy so I can I can get back to me again.
What are your coping skills? Do you need to build them up? Who are your beacons of light? How do you feel about therapy? Please use the resources I included below or reach out to a local organization. You are not alone. If you need a friend please contact me on Instagram. Just don't give up. There is peace beyond the darkness.
Mental Health Resources
If you need help with mental health or substance abuse issues and you think you can not afford them please reach out to The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration . “The SAMHSA referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities..”
If you or someone you know is in mental distress please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline and chat with someone. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.”