My story is certainly a work in progress, and I’m determined to make it a happy ending. I’m not the best storyteller, per se (and I don’t think my story is necessarily ready for publishing just yet), but I just wanted to explain a little about where I’ve come from and where I am now.
I’ve suffered with suicidal tendencies for the past 22 years (since age 10). Depression runs deep on both sides of my family, although I’m not familiar with any other relatives who have suffered with it to the extent of actual suicide attempts as I have. My depression was triggered by a combination of factors. At age 7, we moved from the Chicago area to south Louisiana where I was considered a social outcast because of my dialect and lack of strong family & cultural ties. Around the same time, my father abruptly decided he was no longer interested in serving as my father, and emotionally abandoned my middle brother & I in favor of our new baby brother. (I recently discovered his reasoning at the time was apparently due to his frustration over the general state of our “messy rooms”.) Needless to say, the social and parental rejection at such a vulnerable age became crippling to me in ways I’d never imagined. I began experiencing panic attacks and constant thoughts of suicide, and in extreme cases, complete dissociation.
For years, I thought there was no hope for me, until age 16 when my mother & I came to the realization that most of my suicide attempts seemed to coincide with the monthly fluctuations in my hormones, at which point we began hormone treatment with birth control. At 21, I met my husband (then boyfriend) who moved me out of my parents’ emotionally chaotic home; I started to feel my first sense of control over this disease.
Between using exercise and the birth control to stabilize my hormones, consciously managing the sugar intake in my diet to stabilize my mood, finding a stable & supporting life partner, and a spiritual practice that matched my personal beliefs, I was able to rediscover true joy in my life. Accomplishing major goals like purchasing my own home at 25, getting married, and finding a career I loved also gave me a renewed sense of purpose and validation. I realized that being in a healthy environment and setting positive goals and landmarks for myself helped to keep me going each day and helped me focus on what is really important: finding & doing what makes me authentically happy and bringing joy to others lives.
I often liken it to lifting weights. The pain we feel in the beginning is only a sign that we’re building ourselves up and becoming even stronger for the challenges in our lives. Being able to push through and come out stronger tempers and shapes us into greater beings than we could’ve been otherwise. Consequently, I truly feel as though I went through my struggle for a purpose: to help others who don’t have an outlet for expressing or understanding their own pain, and to help transform it into something that in the end can make them stronger.
My primary goal in life now has been to live authentically. So much of what caused my own grief was feeling the need to fit into a mold that wasn’t necessarily created for me. And I’ve started to not only accept, but celebrate that. I love the concept of NoStigmas and the idea of opening up a conversation about how depression & suicide affect people’s lives, and I want to learn how to be more comfortable opening up that dialogue more often myself. I’ve always had the tendency to fear that most people can’t relate to the extent of the pain I’ve experienced. I’m starting to discover that by finding the courage to sharing my own darkness, that I also have the opportunity to give others some light.