The Things We Hide: My Battle with Depression and Suicide

I’ve been doing this series for a while now.  Over these weeks you’ve come to learn several things that I hide: Why I WriteMy Eating DisorderA Lost MotherAnother Lost Mother, and Anxiety.  I’m trying to be more open with myself and my readers.  I’m trying to be a little more transparent like Nikki over at View From In Here.  This post is one that I’ve been putting off because it’s hard for me to write. Seeing it in print makes it real and inescapable.  Not many people know this about me.  It’s something that I hide very well.  So, here’s my story.

The Things We Hide: My Battle with Depression and Suicide

As a Teen

How It Happened

I don’t remember suffering from depression much as a child.  What I remember is when it started in my teen years.  Actually, I didn’t think that I could make it to 15.  I was in ninth grade that year and it was one of the hardest years of my life.  I remember: being withdrawn, anger, being fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, my grades slipping, feeling hopeless, being withdrawn from my peers, and almost constant thoughts of suicide (WebMd).  The transition to high school can be hard for any child, but I had just transferred from my private Catholic school the year before (in eighth grade).  I still didn’t have many friends.  The friends I did have from my old school became few and far between.  I retreated into myself and remember everything seeming dark.  At that time, I had one amazing friend.  I’ve told her many times that she is the reason I’m still alive today.  In the afternoons after school I would get on AIM chat and talk to her.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wanted my life to end.  I wanted it to be over with.  I wanted this so badly that I had a plan to do it.  She talked me down from it every single day.  She was always there to stop me and remind me why life was worth living.  I’m always going to be grateful to her.

How I Overcame It

This continued for nearly the entire year.  I actually received my first F in school that year.  My grandma was always very attentive and like I wrote before she became very involved in my life after my mom died.  She started to notice these things.  I don’t come from what you might consider a “traditional” family.  My sibling moved out three different times while we were in grade school.  The first time they lived with our grandparents, the other two times with a family friend.  The only answer I could think of to help me was to move out too.  I talked to my grandparents about it.  Actually what I said to them was: “If you don’t get me out of that house, you’re going to find me floating in a river somewhere.”  Looking back I can only imagine the horror that I must have caused my grandparents.  My grandma suggested that I talk to my dad first to see if he would let me move out like my sibling did years earlier.  He refused.  Within a couple of weeks, I was living with my grandparents.  They tried so hard to give me the room and home that I needed.  My grandma and I spent hours decorating my room and they were always around if I needed them.  We’ve always had a good relationship.  After moving in with my grandparents, I was mandated to get therapy.  The therapy combined with the change of environment helped me have a complete turnaround.  I was on the honor roll for the final three years of high school.  My Senior year I even took college classes!  My depression faded and I hardly thought about suicide.  Any and all extra-curricular activities were on my list.  I joined: National Honor Society, Key Club, Soccer Team (for only one year), Setting Stone (the liberal arts magazine), Drama Club (I was in several plays), Clog dancing (I continued my clog dancing for one more year).  I even started taking piano lessons again.  I look back on those years fondly.  My Dad and I get along just fine now.  At that time I think that it was just best for us each to have a little space.  He’s my number one fan on here and reads all of my posts.  Hi, Dad! 😉

As an Adult

In the years since high school, there have been periods of time when I felt the familiar symptoms of depression.  However, for the most part they wouldn’t last more than a few days or even hours.  I was always able to handle it with the help of MMR and my grandma.  Then something happened.

What Spurred My Depressive Episode

My grandma’s death was something that took our whole family by surprise.  I had told her repeatedly “you have to live forever, you’re never allowed to die.”  I was not joking.  So, when it happened I disconnected and didn’t face my emotions.  If you do something like that, it doesn’t make them go away.  It’s like you’re this corked bottle just waiting to explode.  That’s exactly what happened.  Last week I talked about my anxiety and panic attacks that became really bad after my grandma’s death.  Depression also joined the mix.  I couldn’t do anything.  Not only was I unable to do anything other than watch TV without panic rising, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.  I didn’t want to talk to my friends.  I didn’t want to coupon.  I didn’t want to make crafts or write or even eat.  In fact, I slept 10 hours or more a night more often than not.  Sometimes I would just break out in tears and not understand why.  I couldn’t even talk about my grandma because my throat would tighten in an attempt to keep those emotions bottled.  Then, things got worse.  I started having those thoughts again.  Those thoughts about ending it all and how much easier that would be.  Swerving off the road looked more and more tempting every day.  It seemed like the answer.  That was when I knew I needed help.

How I Overcame It

I mentioned last week that I went to see a therapist and a psychiatrist to help with my anxiety.  The other reason I went was to help with my depression and suicidal thoughts.  I was incapable to do anything because not only would I panic, I would start crying uncontrollably.  It seemed that I was constantly on the brink of tears.  All I wanted to do was lay in bed all day and sleep.  My therapist gave me tools to help me deal with the depression.  I only received outpatient treatment because even though I had suicidal thoughts, I didn’t have a plan.  MMR was a huge help and they deemed that I wasn’t a risk to myself.  Also, I was prescribed antidepressants.  It’s something that I’ve been hiding from some of my friends and family.  But, it’s the truth.  I take one every day and I’ve noticed that I’m considerably more level in mood than before.  MMR has noticed the difference too.  I still have times when things seem hard and I can feel the depression flaring up.  But, I’m much more capable of handling it now with these tools.

How It Has Affected My Life

I’ve missed out on events, lost touch with friends, and lost weight.  I actually noticed in November at my first psychiatrist appointment that I was nearly in the “danger zone” that I wrote about in my eating disorder post.  That was my real wake up call.  I had a long talk with MMR and he’s been so supportive in my recovery.  Another thing that’s been a remnant since my teenage depression is that I don’t like knives.  Or veins.  Or wrists.  Or blood.  I know that I subconsciously implanted those fears when I first became depressed because I knew what would happen if I didn’t.  I don’t remember having those fears as a kid.  If those things weren’t scary to me, then it would have been a lot easier to kill myself.  I’d heard about “cutting” and knew what it could lead to.  To this day I still fear those things because I know what could happen to me if I ever stop.  Depression is something that you don’t cure.  You can recover and learn to live with it.  But, there will always be a depressive episode on your horizon.  I’m hoping that now it will be like they used to be.  I hope that they only last a few hours and I can handle them myself.  I haven’t thought about suicide in a few months now.  That leads me to believe that my recovery is going well.

What To Take Away

My hope in sharing this story with you is that it will make you better able to recognize the symptoms in yourself or a loved one.  This past fall when my depression spiraled out of control and led to suicidal thoughts, it went on for far too long.  I was in a very dark place, a familiar dark place.  I don’t like going there.  If you notice these symptoms then say something or make an appointment with a doctor.  I had a panic attack the entire time I made my appointment and the whole ride to the clinic.  Today, I’m so glad that I went anyway.  It was hard.  It was painful.  But, it was necessary.  Get yourself or your loved ones the help you deserve.  Don’t try to “take care of it” yourself like I did for so long.  It might be something much larger than “the blues.”

Do you know someone with these symptoms?  Have you ever helped a friend with their depression?

22 thoughts on “The Things We Hide: My Battle with Depression and Suicide

    1. Thank you so much, Sherry! I’m one of the lucky ones who received help. There are so many people out there to afraid or unable to ask for help. I’m glad that I can reach out through the stories of my own experiences and let them know that they are not alone.

  1. Gina,

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this. But please know that you are not alone. I went through similar depressive states throughout different times of my life and know how it feels to be completely alone when you’re surrounded by people. You’ve done an amazing job at becoming transparent and growing your blog, and I hope that brings you some relief and peace. If you ever need to talk, please don’t ever be afraid to ask. And I’m being super serious, I feel like being a part of this community has brought us altogether, and it should stay that way. Hugs to you every day!!! And Happy Friday! <3
    Lindsey recently posted…5 Habits Of Healthy FamiliesMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Lindsey. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had similar problems. It’s such a hard thing to go through. But, it does help to know that I’m not alone. It is bringing me some relief to share these things on my blog and become more transparent. Seeing them on here in print makes it all easier to accept. If I write it down and hit publish, then I can’t run away from it anymore. Thank you so much for the offer! I think this community has brought us all so close together too! I’m here if you ever need to talk as well. You’re so sweet! <3

    1. Thank you! I was helped by reading the stories of another blogger. It helped me recognize that I needed help and figure out what was going on. I’m just trying to repay the favor by putting my own experiences out there to help someone else who is too afraid to ask for help.

  2. Gina, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all this. My sister had depression off and on for so many years and I know of some cousins who also had depression. Have you ever found out if any of this is inherited? I am thrilled that you’ve been able to get the help you need, that you have been transparent about it and that you have a support system. Thanks for sharing this and have a great weekend!
    Carol@The Red Painted Cottage recently posted…Flashback Friday – Is There Really Such A Thing As Being PERFECT?My Profile

    1. Thanks, Carol. I’m sorry to hear that you have loved ones who struggle with this too. It can not only be hard on the person with the disorder, it’s hard on the whole family. I do believe that it’s partially genetic. In my case, there were several traumatic incidents that triggered me into the downward spiral. However, it also is very prevalent on my father’s side of the family. It goes back for generations and is something that I will be watching for whenever I have my own children. I’m so happy that I’ve gotten help too. I can’t even believe that I’m the same person. Well, I guess in some ways I’m not. You have a fantastic weekend too!

  3. There are only three people that I know for sure who have depression and they are getting the help they need. I am happy to know that you are very self-aware and you are taking care of your whole self. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I’m glad to hear that they are getting help. All too often it is overlooked or someone (like me) ignores the need for help. Over the years I’ve realized how important it is to be self aware. If I can’t tell someone that something is wrong, then how will they know? I only hope I can continue to help myself in these ways.

  4. Gina what a brave lady you are! I wish I was there to give you a big hug but I am so impressed with your honesty. You are inspirational to all and you just keep writing and expressing yourself. I feel it is so important for people to feel comfortable talking about depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses. They need support rather than being ‘shut down’ when they talk about things because others feel uncomfortable. Take care and know you are special.
    sue recently posted…The Seeing Me Project – Get Moving!My Profile

    1. Thank you so much, Sue!! I’ve made such an effort to not soften the reality of this in my life and be as honest as possible. I’m glad you can see that. You are so sweet! <3 I agree that it is so important to be able to talk about depression and anxiety as well as other mental illnesses. So many people make it seem taboo or just don't want to acknowledge that it's there. If it is mentioned it has these horrible stigmas. I hope that I'm able to show people that there's nothing wrong with having these mental illnesses. There's no reason not to ask for help. Everyone deserves help whether they can ask for it or not. If someone feels uncomfortable because of my mental illnesses then they are the one with the problem and need to find a way to deal. You are so right!

  5. Hi Gina, I am reading this post today with my daughter (I’m visiting her at school). She has struggled with anxiety for many years as well, so I know first hand the debilitating nature. In fact, you two remind me very much of each other…you are two very sensitive, caring souls. But you are also very strong, determined and smart young women who might always feel every bump along the road but will ultimately rise above all the challenges and shine. You have surely had your share of bumps, but look at all that you accomplished in spite of those bumps and you are a better person for it.
    It’s a joy to get to see the real Gina and what a strong, beautiful woman she is. Here’s a quote I love:

    “She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
    ― Elizabeth Edwards
    lynn recently posted…Photography : Looking for LightMy Profile

    1. Lynn, your kind words seriously just touched my heart. Thank you so much for all that you’ve said. And I love that quote. I’d never heard it before, but it is so fitting here and I’ll make sure to remember it. I’m happy to hear that you read it with your daughter who also struggles with anxiety. I hope it helps to show her that even though I was at the end of my rope and felt like there was no way up, I found people who could help me rise up. I hope your daughter and I can both keep rising above those bumps and shine for who we are. You’re such an amazing person and I’m so glad that I know you! <3 <3

  6. I applaud you for sharing your story. It’s not easy! I have a history of depression and can relate to so much of this. 9th grade was also an awful year for me and I really struggled in all of high school. Those were some of the worst years of my life. I think the only reason I came out of those years okay was from distracting myself with things and then finally when I was an adult I started making a lot of progress in realize what was and wasn’t healthy in life. It’s not an easy road. I’m so glad you’re doing well now!
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted…Claire: 10 MonthsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Melissa! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve struggled with depression as well. It’s a never-ending journey to find a healthy balance when you have it. I’m happy to hear that you’ve made a lot of progress in leading a healthy life! I hope that you keep progressing and that we can both find the happiness in our lives no matter what. Thank you for sharing your story here!

  7. First of all Gina, a great big hug!! Thank you again for sharing all of these things about your life with us. I also had a similar experience when my mom died. For years I felt like I was veering out of control, spiraling downward. It took me a long time to pull myself together. When we lose someone so important to us we need to mourn and let the feelings come out that way we can heal. But you already know all that. I am so glad you are getting the help you need. A very big step in all of this is to be able to recognize that you need help. There are people out there who are in denial and so make it harder on themselves.

    I am hoping that by you getting them off your chest it is helping you to feel a little better. This is your safe place and we will all be here for you to talk to us. You are a very brave and strong young woman, to be able to reach out and be transparent. Sending lots of love and hugs your way.
    Mary-the boondocks blog recently posted…Sweater pillows the Easy Way – Μαξιλάρια απο Πουλόβερ με Εύκολο ΤρόποMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Mary!! A big hug back to you! You are so sweet! 🙂 I’m so happy to have this place to talk about these things and getting them off my chest does help a lot. I completely agree that recognizing the need for help is a huge step. I was in denial for a while and it isn’t uncommon for others with these issues to ignore them and bury them deeper. I hope that if they read this, they realize that it’s okay and they should get some help. We all need a little help sometimes. I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through after losing your mom. You’re so right about needing to mourn and letting the emotions come out. That was part of my problem. It still can be sometimes. When we ignore what we’re feeling and bottle it all up, that’s when things get really bad. I’m happy to hear that you’ve found a way to come out of the spiral. It’s no easy thing to do and I applaud you. Thank you so much for these sweet words! 🙂

  8. it’s such a horrible experience to live through, my mum still battles with depression everyday, as do a few of my friends and it is a daily battle that they have to overcome, I am so pleased that things are looking up for you, you’ve been through a lot – and i’m glad you’re here 🙂 thanks for such an honest meaningful post!
    Charlotte recently posted…#YumTum – #6 – 18/02/2016My Profile

    1. I’m sorry to hear that your mom and friends are in the battle as well. It’s so hard and sometimes it just seems endless and meaningless. But, it’s worth the fight. I hope that they keep fighting it and working towards a healthier and happier way of life. I’m glad that things are getting better too. I was pretty hopeless for a while. Thank you so much and I’m glad that you liked the post. I’m glad you’re here too! 🙂

  9. Gina honey, my heart breaks for you. You have been through so much in your short life, I can’t imagine how painful it’s been for you. I wish I was there so I could give you a huge hug, we all have crap Gina, yours may be different than mine but it’s still just crap. It doesn’t change who you are, what you can become, what you dream about, and how you love. It’s just crap. So we fix it, with the help of others, and we learn how to deal with it, and we live our lives. Sweet girl you deserve to have the happiest life ever. Your husband is so lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have him. I hope that your big heart finds happiness and that all your days from here on out are full of love. You are so strong and I am so proud of you . Xoxoxo
    Nikki recently posted…I’m failing, I have to admit…My Profile

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