Monday, May 2, 2011

My Dark Secret

Warning: This post is about suicide and depression. Please proceed at your own discretion.

After dealing with another bout of depression last week--due to my period, if I had to guess--I think it's time to get this dark portion of my recent past out there. I'll keep it as short and simple as possible. I doubt anyone wants to read a teal deer on such an awful subject.

I like to think I had a relatively good childhood. Not an easy childhood, mind you, but a good one. It could have been much, much worse. At the very least, my parents loved me. But the hardships are worth explaining, I think.

I was a brat--my father was enlisted in the Air Force, and we moved around a lot. "Best friends forever" was a more temporary declaration than anything any normal child had; at least one of my close friends moved every year, and I made brand new friends the very next year. I was born in Japan, lived in Illinois for a few years, attended elementary school in Japan, middle school in California, and high school in Colorado, where I now stake my claim as "home." I'm still in okay contact with my friends from high school, but my friends from elementary and middle school? We're Facebook friends, but that's about the extent of it.

I was also a latchkey kid. Enlisted soldiers make crap pay, so my mother had to work. She also went to school part-time in hopes of getting a better job someday. Since my father was a firefighter, I only saw him every other day, and he was deployed a lot, too. These things are what made my childhood not easy, but again, my parents loved me, I had a lot of friends, and I was extraordinarily good at school and music. College has always been a given for me, because my mother was good at saving money and scholarships were in my future. It could have been much worse.

I start out this post with this background information because I think it's critical to show that depression and suicidal tendencies can happen to anyone. After all, once upon a time, I thought I was immune to these things because of what I had in life. We were not rich, but we were not poor. I went to good schools, and I had good friends. I had great grades, and I had a bright future ahead of me. Nothing truly terrible ever happened to me. And so, this was my life through high school.

In high school, I breezed through my classes by hardly lifting a finger towards studying and hard work (nearly straight A student all the way through; only one or two B's a semester!), and I was in AP and IB classes! But in my senior year, I had taken some significant beatings to my self-esteem. I had gotten into a big fight with someone who took advantage of my parents and my hospitality, someone who I thought was my close friend consistently insulted and ridiculed me, and my long distance, long term boyfriend never returned my calls or my emails. It was tough, but I sure was glad to get out of there.

College was a brand new challenge for me. Without getting into all the gory details, since it took me two years and a transfer of colleges to get to my breaking point, I will just say this: classes were hard. In IB they always told us that we would have an easy time in college, but they assumed we would be majoring in anything but engineering, I think! I had no idea how to study, and I was constantly failing my exams and constantly facing the possibility of failing classes. I could not cope with that.

But it's unfair to say that alone was what drove me to placing the blade of a knife on my wrist. My social life was in shambles, even with a wonderful boyfriend who, I am ashamed to say, I kept driving away over petty jealousies and my lack of self-worth.

Most of it was probably in my head, my sour relationships with my friends. I felt like everyone secretly hated me, when in truth, everyone was supremely stressed out. Only one person was truly rotten to me, and she was the one I reached out to after I shoved the knife back into the kitchen drawer and spent a solid hour on the floor crying my eyes out. I never actually told her what I did, but she did try her best to help me, only for her to throw it back in my face in one of the last arguments we ever had.

Over the course of the next year, I continued to push people away, including my boyfriend. I secluded myself, only showing my face for the sake of class and whatever club meetings I had to drag myself to, and I emotionally walled myself up. What this eventually led to was the second time I pulled out a kitchen knife with the intentions of killing myself.

I'm not sure what stopped me either of those times. Maybe the fear of the inevitable pain? Maybe a moment of Oh my God what am I doing? Or maybe it was something else altogether. In any case, once again, the knife went back into the drawer. This time, I had no one to turn to. I had pushed everyone away.

I thought about seeing a therapist during all of this. I really did. I even did an extensive search on a suitable doctor who would fit within the budget of a college student. But then I told myself that this was all in my head, and a therapist would only tell me that I'm being stupid and send me home. So, I chose to save my money and work through it on my own. Ironically, when my boyfriend finally got fed up and broke up with me, it felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and I could work towards my own happiness.

Unfortunately, that is not where it ends.

For a year, I was happy. I started running. I was succeeding in my classes again. My social life was being repaired. It was so great, I completely forgot about the dark places I had spent the past two or three years dwelling in. And then senior year happened, and I fell right back into it.

To my credit, I didn't think about suicide again until after I graduated and had returned from my trip visiting family in Japan. I was unemployed and kept getting rejection after rejection for interviews and offers. I was getting sick of traveling around the country to get my hopes up for something I would only come in second place for. I felt like, again, all my friends secretly hated me, that I had put my foot in my mouth too many times and they were badmouthing me behind my back. Whether or not this was actually true was irrelevant to me at that point.

This time, I know exactly what stopped me from attempting suicide. I was living with my parents again, and I am their only child. I could not devastate them by finding the corpse of their one and only daughter lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. So I conjured up other ways to die. Maybe make it seem more like an accident. Something like a car crash, where I drive off a ledge, so that I am the only victim and no one else. But then I realized that my death alone, no matter how it happened, would be enough to hurt them, so I kept it together as best as I could.

Luckily, my mother noticed how depressed I was and offered to take me with her on a business trip to San Fransisco. Around the time I was making the final travel arrangements, I received a job offer at long last.

It has been eight months since then. I am recovering, but I still wonder if I should see someone about the depression. After all, last week taught me that I am still not immune from this. Yes, I have a well-paying job in this wretched economy; yes, I know I have full control over my own social life; and yes, I am building my own sense of self-worth and basing my life around what makes me feel good about myself. But if the monthly reminder that I am a woman is enough to whack out my hormones to feeling worthless and pathetic, unmotivated and unreasonably sad... well, it's worth it, isn't it?

At the very least, I have promised myself that the next time I start spiraling down into a depression that looks like it's going to lead me towards suicidal thoughts, I will see someone. Next time my life takes a drastic change for the apparent worse, I will make an appointment with a therapist. I'm hoping that by staying positive and keeping healthy, it'll be enough... but what if next time I actually go through with it?

It's not something I'm willing to risk.

I have never told anybody any of this. Ever. This is my first time publicly sharing. Knowing that someone out there is potentially reading this is enough, and someday, when I brave letting people in my real life know about this blog, they'll stumble on this entry, and they will know, and I will not be so alone anymore.

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