- Academic Departments
- Et al. Journal
- Volume VI: In My Own Words 2016/2017
- A Life Worth Living
A Life Worth Living
Transitioning to adulthood is quite difficult for any ordinary teenager, but for someone who struggles with severe depression becoming an adult can feel like you are freefalling from an airplane with no parachute. Soon after my eighteenth birthday I found myself terribly lost, I felt most friends my age knew what they wanted for their life. They knew what school they were going to attend, what they wanted to major in, and precisely what their freshman year was going to be like. I, on the other hand, was trying to figure out why I couldn't get out of bed on a daily basis, why self-care; such as bathing, brushing my teeth, and eating routinely felt as if I were climbing Mount Everest.
I had spent the past few months going about my day the exact same way as the day before. I would wake up around noon, dig through my various collection of pharmaceutical drugs, something for depression, sleep, and anxiety; I'd take my blue and white oblong capsule of Prozac and head down the stretched staircase leading to the immaculately, organized kitchen. My kitchen looked as if no one lived in the house, everything was perfectly placed in its rightful position and sterilely untouched. I would fumble around in the coordinated kitchen curiously seeking something to satisfy my mundane hunger, usually not having enough appetite I would return to my lightless cave of a bedroom. I would turn on my laptop and engulf myself in some Netflix television show. I would do this the entire day, distracting my mind with television until I was tired enough of being consciously awake. I'd pull the plush down comforter over my head, engulfing my body with warmth, and entering my hibernation phase. I was creating my own hell on earth, depriving myself of all essentials to make life enjoyable.
It didn't take long for me to create a vicious cycle of isolation, avoidance, and detachment. I began isolating myself from family and friends, spending days in my pitch black bedroom where I had blackout curtains sealing my windows not allowing any light to creep in. I would make up any excuse to avoid spending time with my friends or meeting family for the summer birthdays and holidays, "Sorry mom, I don't think I can come to the Fourth of July picnic, I am just not feeling well." After weeks of avoided human contact I began to detach from my existence, I felt I was an outsider of my own life looking in. With this detachment came the distorted cognitive thinking "no one would miss you if you were gone, you are such a burden in everyone's life, killing yourself is the only way to end the pain." None of this was remotely factual in reality, but being depressed it felt undeniably real. I saw my life in the utmost black and white terms, I had a problem and I needed an instantaneous fix from the horrible pain I was tolerating. After hours, days, and weeks of enduring a crippling life altering depression I felt I had had enough. I was hopeless for my future on this earth, and so I decided I was going to end my life.
I remember the day I decided to take my own life so vividly, as if I were looking through an album of photographs. It was an extremely humid July 10th day in Ohio, the sun was gleaming with a Caribbean blue sky in the background but I didn't care I wanted to expel my life from this planet. The thoughts in my mind were racing and amongst this chaos I had decided I was going to swallow all of my pharmaceutical drugs, a combination of schedule II benzodiazepines, and sleep hypnotics was surely enough to suppress my respiratory system. I grabbed my favorite black North Face backpack from the closet emptying all my school books, binders, and journals on the carpeted floor. It felt as if all those days, weeks, months, and years of high school were an absolute waste of time because I was going to be dead in just a measly few hours. I only placed two things in my back pack, a full water bottle and all of my medications. With my heart rate racing and my blood pressure rising and sweat beginning to appear through my pores I left the house and began to walk. I had no idea where to go, I just knew I needed to keep walking. Being detached from reality I aimlessly walked to a local park that I used to play at as a child. The park was filled with miles of beautiful grassland and tall oak trees, paved pathways into the woods and a river that went on for miles. I confidently took the asphalt paved path along the river, as I had jogged this path many times in the past. The river usually flowed with water coming to the top of the river bank, but there was a water drought that summer. The only water that remained were the little puddles on the dusty dirt floor of the riverbed. I walked about two miles into the woods, I wanted to be sure no one would find me. I stepped down into what used to be a luscious flowing river that you could skip rocks on, and searched for an area to hide myself away from the trail. I instantaneously noticed a colossal of a rock to sit behind; I anxiously opened my backpack, realizing what I was doing I began to cry, and tremors began controlling my hands and arms. At this point unfortunately I felt it was too late to turn back, or change my mind on the grim decision I had impulsively made. I began opening all my orange pill bottles and swallowing the medications that filled the bottles, mouthfuls at a time. I repeated this process until all ninety Klonopin, sixty Trazadone, and thirty Ambien were now flooding my digestive tract.
I cannot recall the jogger who happened to be running on the trail that evening and saw my mud covered body laying lifelessly in the dried up river bed, or the police officer who climbed down into the river bed trying to revive me until the paramedics arrived, or the helicopter pulling me out of the river and life-flighting me to the hospital; it's what I was told after I awoke from a coma and was no longer intubated three and half weeks later. To say I was "lucky" would be the understatement of a lifetime.
I was very sick with depression, and instead of reaching out for help I pushed everyone that cared about me away. I have learned that our actions have consequences and some of our actions have permanent unchangeable consequences that we may deeply regret later down the road. As I have gotten older over the years, and continually struggle with bouts of clinical depression I have learned how to recognize my symptoms, and not react to the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts that accompany this insidious disease. Even though the feelings of hopelessness and despair may feel that they will last a lifetime, I have found they never actually do. I have discovered that recognizing what I am feeling and changing the negative internal dialogue keeps me better able to cope with symptomatic depression. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I was blessed and given a second chance at bettering my life, not all are given that opportunity. Life will present all of us with problems but it is how we handle those problems that has direct effect to our lives.
Present day has me in a different place than when I found myself at the merciful jaws of my depression. I see a Dialectical Behavioral Therapist once a week, learning healthy coping skills to deal with my symptomatic depression that presents itself on occasion every few months. As well as participating in a group therapy once a week with other individuals who struggle with mental illness. After years of experimenting with different medications my doctor found a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor "SSRI" that has been working well for me. I take this medication on a daily basis to help with the troublesome symptoms of clinical depression. Although I can't say I am cured from my depression, I am managing my depression. I find myself a much more active participant in my life. I enjoy taking yoga classes once a week at a local studio. I spend more time invested in the relationships with my family and friends, which helps combat the feelings of loneliness. I am also working a part time job while completing courses at a local community college, to finish my nursing degree. My life is by no means perfect, but with the coping skills I have learned over the years, my life has transformed into being more manageable. When a situation arises, I am naturally able to delegate tasks to tackle the problem at hand, it no longer paralyzes me, keeping me stuck. I will have to mindfully manage my depression, that will be unchanging and constant, but I no longer have to battle with myself. I no longer have to contemplate my will to live.