Journey in Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Illness

“Journey” is the appropriate name for this post. Whereas Adventure implies excitement and knowing what the end of the road may hold; A journey may seem like an never ending trek in ones life.

I have battled with Depression/Anxiety since I was a teenager. I never received an official diagnosis, but I was on a string of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and saw various therapists and a psychiatrist for a number of years. Lately, I’ve been struggling with something I never expected I would have to.

— TRIGGER WARNING BELOW — Don’t read if details of depression, self harm, or suicide strongly affect you. I have spoken about these details with friends & family as well as a therapist, but I feel the need to document it for my own sake.

                                —————–

On the first of February, I had a day off from work and took it upon myself to finally clean my home. My boyfriends parents had been in town and helped us renovate our kitchen. It was sorely needed, but the mess of our life had exploded into the rest of the house and plaster dust coated nearly every surface.

After several hours of hard work, I received a text from our roommates girlfriend. She hadn’t heard from him all day and asked if I would check on him, since his phone was going straight to voicemail. He never turned his phone off. I went to his roommate and after knocking and receiving no response horror began to creep in my mind. I realized he had to be in his room since I never heard or seen him leave for work that morning, and I even heard what I thought to be his alarm going off on his phone.

I tried to open the door, calling out to him, only to have the door push back heavily. I realized he was just on the other side of the door. I forced my way in and was horrified to see he had committed suicide. Panic overwhelmed me, I tried to wake him and he was cold and stiff. I remember screaming, crying, begging him to wake up. My first aid training kicked in as I shakily called 911. I immediately gave the operator the address and told them I thought he was dead. I actually started CPR before the operator told me. The only time I left him alone was when I ran downstairs to unlock the door for first responders. Within 7 or 8 minutes, EMT had arrived.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is the number of people that came in. There were three people that immediately started checking on him, while one man helped me up and ushered me into the hall and helped me down the stairs. Two more people rushed up the stairs after me and there was already a police officer waiting downstairs in the living room.

I don’t know what I would have done if my landlord and his wife hadn’t been there as well. They were waiting there looking scared, and I managed to tell them that my roommate was dead, he had killed himself, before I completely lost it. My landlord, bless him, immediately took charge and told us to go to the front house and stay there. She took the responsibility to call his girlfriend and my boyfriend.

The rest of the night was a blur of hysterical crying, numbness, and shaking hands. I didn’t sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing my roommate. Cold and pale. I didn’t completely stop shaking until two days later. My boyfriend tells me, he wishes he had been the one to find him, but that isn’t something I would want anyone else to go through.

For me, personally, a sense of clarity came over me. I have my own history of suicidal thoughts and actions. A friend of mine from college committed suicide two years ago. Now, after what I can only describe as the my most horrifying moment of my life, I never want to put anyone through what I have been through. They say that Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else. I began to think about the true impact: what his parents are going through, his sister, his nieces, his girlfriend, friends, old classmates, our landlords family, as well as me and Ry. The ripple affect of grief is mind boggling.

My first thought, while I was trying to process everything, was What could I have done? I’ve thought it through countless times. I had been open about my own experiences, I spoke with him about the fundraiser I was doing for Suicide Prevention, how mental illness was something I struggled with, but it was something I had come to live with and even had begun to thrive. My boyfriend and I often reached out and encouraged him to join us for movie nights and game nights. We shared food whenever we cooked too much. We invited him and his girlfriend out with our friends for birthday parties, and even our annual “Friends-giving”.

Unfortunately, with the stigma of depression and suicidal thoughts, people feel like the have to go it alone; that they can’t seek professional help without seeming weak. So let me say this. If you have suicidal thoughts: GET HELP, Call the national suicide hotline, Call a counselor, Look up any resources you can, Talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling. Also, if you know anyone who has “joked” about killing themselves, get professional help. This is one of the major red flags, that sadly, many people ignore. Maybe because they don’t think they would actually go through with it, or they’re afraid they would.

Help end the shame that society has inflicted on all of us. We are human. Seeking help is not weakness. We are all living in this world together, and if we can’t help each other, then what kind of world are we fighting for?

How to make an impact: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (US) : 1-800-273-8255

National Institute of Mental Health on Suicide Prevention

 

 

 

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