Recently, I was in an extremely dark place, which had me contemplating…OK, which had me actually planning suicide. It would have been my second suicide attempt. But, I suppose I should provide a bit of background, to my story.
Sixteen years ago, I was involved in an automobile accident, which resulted in my having permanent nerve damage in my lower back. L4/L5/S1 to anyone familiar with spinal hoo-ha. Since that happened, I have gone through four back surgeries, and spent thirteen of those years using multiple medications – Fentanyl, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Flexeril, to name a few. I can’t say that they actually stopped any pain, but more or less had me a drooling dweeb, that didn’t care about the pain, nor anything else.
One of the meds I took for years, was Cymbalta, as it can ease nerve pain. But it was developed for use as an anti-depressant. In 2012, I decided, in my infinite, druggie wisdom, that I no longer needed the Cymbalta. I felt that it was no longer worth the side effects. This may have been a catalyst for my descent into a battle with MDD [major depressive disorder\clinical depression]
Anyway… I became so depressed that my life would be a never ending vicious cycle of pain, that I took all my meds in a suicide attempt. Luckily, for me, my husband came home from work early, and called 911. Narcan saved my life – but having all the pain killers leave your body at once, is an experience I don’t recommend.
I spent seven days in the psych ward of my local hospital, where I met other folks with deep depression problems, due to chronic pain. Seems I wasn’t as alone as I felt. I also met with a fabulous psychiatrist, whom I still see.
That’s the background for my recent bout with depression, which had me planning another suicide attempt. I spent several days plotting and planning, but each day I told myself to wait until I see what tomorrow brings. When the next day rolled around, and my outlook hadn’t changed, I would ask myself what negative impact my killing myself might have. Some of the reasons were good, like remembering the stricken look on my husband’s face when I regained consciousness in the ICU. And some days being able to see the humor in using my husband’s inability to use the remote control without me, as rationale to stay alive, set me laughing, and actually helped me get through it.
After that, I was able to share my recent feelings with my husband and family, and visit my shrink. After starting a new medication regime, I am truly improving. So, I wrote a post on Facebook to thanks my friends:
“I had a wee bout of depression\suicidal flu recently. I wanted to thank my friends who helped me – even when some of you had no idea that you were helping me, by just being whom you are. If anyone wonders why I would post something like this, it’s not a ploy for sympathy. It’s because I strongly believe we need to have more open discussions about depression and mental health. And if I can help encourage that in my small way, I will.”
I was a bit taken aback by the responses. Not that my friends showed concern for me, but at how many people shared similar feelings. A few were able to publicly say what they have experienced, but so many women sent me private messages to share their thanks for me speaking so openly about depression and suicide. You see, they are unable to speak openly due to the stigma and fear of their employer’s reactions.
I found it distressing to realize how many other people suffer from depression, and even more distressing to realize how many had to suffer through it in silence. I’m unemployed, so I have the advantage of no employer to worry me. I’m also a bit of an odd duck. TMI is a foreign concept for me. If I am open about everything in my life, I don’t need to recall whom I told what.
Something my shrink told me stuck home: Women in the USA are reared with the thought that they need to manage home, career, friends, family, etc., all with ease, and NO COMPLAINTS. That can account for a great deal of depression. She said she found this surprising when she moved here from South Korea. She was under the impression that we were more progressive in our country.
I want to especially thank my UniteWomen.org family for helping me. You see, I’ve seen so many other women sharing stories of stuggles and survival, I could do no less than to try to do the same.
About Sandy: I am the National Social Media Co-Director for UniteWomen.org. I’m just an average, middle-aged woman, who is tired of fighting the same battles that were fought by our mothers and grandmothers. I don’t wish to see our daughters and granddaughters repeating our fight for equality.
1221 Bowers Street #2225
Birmingham, Michigan 48012-2225