“Mom, why are you making that face?” So asks my five year old while we are driving home from the grocery store.
“What face?” I ask unaware.
“This one.” She scowls demonstrating
“Oh, I’m just thinking,” I reply.
“I make that face when I’m thinking too. When I’m thinking sad thoughts.”
My heart breaks. Because my daughter knows sad thoughts and I wonder if that’s how it starts. And because I, at that moment, am planning my suicide.
I called my husband. “I have to tell you something when I get home and if I don’t say it now then I don’t know what will happen. Tell the kids to go play.”
That’s a lie. I know what will happen; he will be planning a funeral.
I don’t know why I told him. In that moment I could not see any positive purpose in my existence. Only pain and suffering for myself and those around me; because of my depression. I will be lightening their load, truly.
Let me say it again.
I told him because I thought about the foundation. And how we are encouraging people to reach out and ask for help.
Because it matters.
That thought led me to confess to my husband.
Honestly, I don’t know how I got here. I thought I was taking care of myself. I guess I wasn’t.
I am now in intensive outpatient therapy three times a week, seeing a psychiatrist once a week [and going through an array of medication changes]. I also see my individual counselor once every other week [hopefully weekly for the next few however longs].
I am lucky.
Lucky because I have a support system of family and friends. A job that actually does care about its employees and not just its numbers. I’m lucky because I can take the time off to get the help I need. To save my life.
Not everyone can say the same. And I wonder how many people are dying because of it.
Currently, I am improving, but terrified. I no longer have suicidal ideation. But, I have fear.
I am terrified of facing those who only know me on the surface and acknowledge that I’ve been struggling.
I am terrified of facing those who thought I had it all together and was managing just fine and acknowledging that in fact, I wasn’t.
I am terrified of saying I’m better because then everyone expects that I am ok. Back to my old self. The truth is, I don’t see how I will ever be the same. I’ve been lost in a black hole and have been desperately reaching toward the surface.
The view is different up here.
And I like it.
I tried to ignore it. And that only helps for so long. And in the end, it doesn’t help at all.
I still need medication and yoga. And let’s not forget Jesus. But I also need counseling.
I need coping mechanisms.
I believe that the treatment plan for mental illness is related to the severity of it; like any chronic disease, it is an individual plan. I am learning how to live with it and even [hopefully] thrive in spite of it.
I am passionate about Love Will Foundation and our mission for a reason: it is personal.
I am saying these things out loud because I am tired of darkness consuming me; I am choosing to bring it out into the light. I am standing against the very real and painful stigma that accompanies this conversation.
I thought about posting this anonymously, but then I thought:
“If I am not willing to share my story, how can I expect that others will. And then nothing changes.”
I am not more or less because of that.
I am human. And I am 1 in 5.