Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Dreams May Come

"To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come."

When I first heard of Robin Williams’ passing, I literally cried out “No!” and held back tears as I read it was due to suicide. It’s hard for someone who hasn’t experienced depression first hand to understand why someone, who seemingly has the world right at their fingertips, could let it all go and bring about their death by their own hands.

I suffered from crippling depression once. It’s something I’ve wanted to share on here for quite some time but could never find the proper way to write about it. It’s not the kind of topic that you can just post about one day, “Hey! I was depressed once and nearly suicidal, let’s talk about it!” I share my story now in the hopes that it might help people understand, and maybe, hopefully, help someone out who is going through it themselves.

I’m generally a very happy, optimistic person. I've been through some pretty tough times, but always seemed to make my way through it and end up smiling at the end of it. About four years ago, I should have been on top of the world, I had just bought my first home with Dave, we were talking seriously about getting engaged, I was half way through school at the light at the end of the tunnel towards my degree was finally starting to shine. But then I woke up one day and just didn’t want to move. I didn't want to get out of bed, or get off the couch. I didn’t see the point of it. That is literally how it all began. I went to bed feeling fine one night and woke up the next day miserable, lonely, and wanting to die.

I tried to reason with myself at first. List all the things I should be grateful for, my home, Dave, my cat Buddy, my family. But listing all those things made me loathe myself even more. I had so much to be grateful for and I wasn’t, in my mind I didn’t deserve any of it because of how I felt and the fact that none of it made me happy when it should have.

I went to the doctor about a month after I couldn’t shake the terrible feelings and the first medication I was put on made me worse. In addition to being sad, I suffered anxiety attacks. Everything set me off, the people I worked with laughing the wrong way  (I swore they were laughing at me), the aisles in Walmart closing in on me,  the cars on the road were out to run me off the road, everything sent me into a panic. So my doctor switched up the medication again, and I got worse. Now the thoughts of me wanting to kill myself became plans. It went from “you are worthless, just kill yourself already” into “you should go to that window, open it and jump out. no one cares, no one will notice”. I took time off work, switched my meds again, went to outpatient therapy for two months and started to get better.

It took time, patience, and a lot of love from family and friends before I got to the point where I knew I’d be okay. I think the hardest part now, thinking back, is the pain this period in my life caused the people I love to worry. Dave had to see it day in and day out. He had to deal with the massive breakdowns, the desperate calls where I would plead with him to come home to keep me safe from myself, the angry outbursts for no reason other than I wanted him to hate me like I hated myself. The pain I saw on my aunt’s face when she found out about it after the fact and the hurt it caused when she couldn’t be there for me when it happened. The worry in my mom’s voice when she would call. That pain sometimes is too much to place on others, so we internalize it. Without some kind of release, it becomes this big massive ball of hate that keeps growing and growing until one day it’s just too much to handle on your own.

I consider myself lucky. Even when I was at my worst, there was still a piece of me that wanted to live, wanted to survive this. It was that little hope that I held on to that made me get the help I needed, made me reach out to family when I knew it would hurt them to see me this way, because I knew this wasn’t the way I wanted to go. It’s ironic now, one of my favorite Robin Williams movie is What Dreams May Come. I believe in the heaven that this movie illustrates, that we all have our own little haven created for us, and I also believe in the hell that is shown there too. In the movie, Robin’s wife kills herself and he travels to hell to bring her back to heaven with him. I worried that if I did commit suicide that I would end up there, in that hell, but where I really wanted to be was my own little heaven. I knew that in order to get there, I would have to wait for my time to come naturally, not by my own hands.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about a situation where you paint yourself in a less than stellar light, especially now when we only promote the good aspects of our lives on social media. I hope that by sharing this, it may help you or someone you know. 

I leave you with this, from Lisa Jakub's blog post about Robin's death:

None of us really know what fights Robin was battling, but I know his struggles were not uncommon. It’s estimated that 16 million people in the US have struggled with depression – and I include myself in that statistic. It’s real and it’s not shameful and there is help available.
You can bring it to the light, you can tell the truth, you can go to a meeting, you can reach out to a friend.
None of us are alone.
And if you have someone in your life that you are grateful for — someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note – do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak.
Tell them all of that.
Tell them today.
The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)