Sunday, March 30, 2014

I've Been Suicidal Most of My Life

This morning I went to a funeral of a dear student I was privileged to know well during my substitute teaching days. She had committed suicide. Everyone I talked to at the funeral kept saying "I don't know why anyone would do such a thing". I would respond in my mind "I do". It's all too familiar to me.

My first attempt...I don't remember my exact age, but I know I was around eight. I went to my dads closet where I knew he kept his guns. They were in a locked metal box, but there was a revolver in a green sock. I got it down from the top shelf and slipped it out of the sock. I was disappointed, it had some kind of lock around the trigger that I couldn't get off. I put the gun back and went back to my room.

It's not about killing yourself. It's about ending the pain. The pain of worthlessness. If I ran away I would still be stuck with me, the only way to really end the pain is to end me.

I would always fantasize about my funeral.  My spirit hovering above the crowd to see if anyone would show up. It was kind of a "I told you so" statement. "I told you I was worth something, but none of you could see it. Do you see it now?" My funeral was the only way for me to get the attention, the help, I was screaming for inside myself.

Black Holes and depression are one and the same. Swirling darkness. If happiness attempts to escape it gets sucked back in by the forces of depression, they are much stronger. I would feed on my weaknesses. It was like an obsession finding one fault after another. The whole world seemed to work against me, and there is no way to win. I felt defeated, always. No hope.

My bouts of depression would last weeks. I don't know exactly what would trigger them, and I'm not sure why I would get out of that state of mind either. All I know is that I would promise myself that it would never happen again. That depression is completely selfish (because it is) and that I was over that. Then....I'd get depressed again. And you know what? That demon would whisper in my ear "I'm back. I knew you couldn't get rid of me. You know why? Because you are not strong. Because you are a failure. The fact that you're in this depression proves that you can never get rid of me. You will always be too weak. you will never win." Then somehow I'd conquer it. I would go sometimes a whole year without being depressed thinking I had defeated it, only to fail once more. Each time it got worse. Instead of taking weeks to get me into a suicidal state of mind it would only take days.

The scariest thing is driving. Temptations to purposely crash the car are at every turn. It would be so easy. But what if I lived? That would suck. Then I'd be disabled and really get depressed. Think about that! I didn't want to try to kill myself by crashing my car because I was afraid I would FAIL, that I couldn't even kill myself right. I thought I couldn't do anything right.

It took me until college to go see a psychologist. I was about 23 years old. I was sick of the cycle and I wanted to learn ways to avoid it. It was a great experience. He taught me a lot about myself. I recommend it to everyone.

I got married and we were struggling to get pregnant. I had a B.S. degree and was working at Melaleuca. Soon I learned that they were paying all the men $9.50 and all the women $8.00 for doing the same job. For some reason that really took a toll on me. I was smart. I knew I was. I got straight A's in college. I was also a really hard worker. But I was worthless. No matter how hard I tried I was only worth $8.00/hr to the world. I was a piece of dung. Bitterness and despair took over. I almost sued, but I knew I couldn't win, I was a loser and always would be. My poor husband would come home to a crying wife almost every night. We would go to dinner parties and I would have to excuse myself from the table and step outside because I would start to cry for no reason at all. I was a mess. Then I wanted to run away. But then again where would that get me? I would just struggle somewhere else.

One night I realized that my depression wasn't just affecting me anymore, it was affecting my husband and it would my future children as well. I have witnessed a lot of negative outcomes of children who have severely depressed parents. I didn't want my children to have to deal with that. I finally succumbed to the idea that maybe I did need medication, that I couldn't beat this beast on my own.

I am now on medication and it's working. I want to be on it for the rest of my life. It just takes the edge off. My dose is small so I can still get depressed (which is rare), but at least I wont get suicidal, and that's my goal.

Recently I went to a seminar for depression. I loved the information the speaker gave. I scanned my notes so that you can see the scale he provided. The middle is "normal". To the left is severe depression, to the right is "happiness" which is measured by energy and vitality.
Something the speaker mentioned was that medication is usually needed once you're in the physical pain area. Once one has recovered to sadness then techniques can be used to go the rest of the way. The bottom line is knowing which actions the depressed person needs to take to fight the above symptoms. 

I have been able to help a lot of people with their depression, and you can too.

Someone will never walk up to you and just blurt out that they are suicidal. Before that happens there are a few things you need to do first:

1) Quickly Establish Trusting Relationships

Some people have a hard time opening themselves up. So to open them up- the trick is- to open yourself up first. It starts a foundation of trust and an open relationship. How do you "open up"? Get Personal. Talk about some of the struggles you've had in your life. Ask them for advice. Ask them about their life experiences after you have shared yours.

2) Be an Open Book to Everyone

You never know who is struggling. I have always tried to be open about my depression at school, church, anywhere really. I cannot tell you how many people have opened up to me telling me that they are struggling too, and that they have never told anyone before. I also let people read my journals. Whats life for if you don't learn? Whats the learning for if you don't share it?

What if you've never struggled with depression? That's OK. People just need to know that you are human. That you will understand their shortcomings because you have them too. So be an open book about many things.

3) Complimenting is a No-No, Just Listen

When you compliment someone who is truly depressed they are shooting your compliments down. Its like skeet shooting. Their depressed brain is the shotgun and the clay pigeons are your compliments. I don't know why this happens, I just know it does. You will not make them change their minds about themselves or increase their self-esteem by complimenting them. Instead, get them to talk, and keep them talking. By doing this you are helping them feel valued by taking the time to get to know them, and the reasons why they are feeling the way they are feeling. Keep asking probing questions. Dig. Show understanding and love.

4) Get Help

There are methods and medications to help depressed people. If they have expressed to you that they have had suicidal thoughts get them to call a Suicide Hotline immediately. I have had to do this and it was very helpful because the person gave me some techniques to cope until I could see a professional. The number I used was on the back of my health insurance card, but there are many other resources as well. 

5) Continue to Have an Open Relationship

Ask them how things are going. Do they like their counselor? (If not, push them to get a new one. They are not created equally! I have had terrible counselors and wonderful ones). Be their friend. Serve them. Laugh with them. Share your life with them as well.

My favorite description of depression is on this blog:    WARNING it contains a lot of swear words.


  1. Thanks for sharing! you are always an inspiration!

  2. You are so courageous!

  3. I deeply appreciate this post, Dayna. I currently struggle with anxiety and bouts of depression and I'm finding that being an "open book" as you put it really helps to stomp out shame and find the help I need.

  4. Wow, I would have never guessed. thank you for sharing. Love you!

  5. Thank you so much for your simple, yet detailed explanation of something so many of us feel, but can't put into words. The frustrating cycle that never goes away. Your insight has given me hope and given me tools that I'm going to start using. Such openness and honesty are an incredible gift you have shared. Thank you again!

  6. thanks you are inspiring! love you!

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I have known some very depressed people but this helps to know how to help. One question? What can a person do for a deposed person who is an alcoholic and not thinking or remembering right, besides getting them to stop drinking? I think they must stop so they can be reached. Some truly do need the medication. Does B complex supplements help you and others with depression? It helped me. Without it, particularly B6 and Niacin, I couldn't overcome it myself. I believe sometimes it is nutritionally (genetic need) caused but for sure, not always. Music helps so much to pull out of the downward spiral. Forcing ourselves to do something for someone in need is also very helpful, though difficult, when it is hard to pull yourself out. Talking, I agree, helps a lot to help ourselves through difficult times, as long as it is productive and helps us remember and discover joy in life rather than dragging ourselves and others through the mud of depression. What do you think? I like hearing your opinion because you are a very articulate and caring, feeling person who I have much respect for! You have a way of speaking/writing your feelings that I truly love and appreciate! Jill Fugal

  8. Thank you everyone for your comments. Sister Fugal, I have never tried any supplements, but maybe I will try some B6 and Niacin if you say it helped you out. Someone once told me that Mg helps them a lot. I'm not one to ask though. I've never been very smart when it comes to natural healing. I like you input as far as the service, music, and talking go.

    The reason I emphasized talking so much was because I have learned that when I was suicidal I needed to #1 TELL SOMEONE. If I told someone I knew I wouldn't do it for some reason. Techniques for getting out of the slump I am not too good at that... :/ So I'm thankful for your knowledge.

  9. You're so brave to post this dayna bear.

  10. Princess, please know that I love you very much and I am always there for you any time and any place.....Sdad

  11. If this student was Jessica Harrison , she was cyber-bullied into taking an overdose. Will anything be done to prosecute the people who cowardly tormented her via the internet?

  12. I love this! I too for most of my life have suffered with Depression and Anxiety. I have tried meds and therapy and I know they help but the key for sure is talking! Which also means like you pointed out that you need a good therapist to talk too. This has always been hard for me because it takes so much effort to get a therapist that if they aren't good you feel even worse and more defeated. So please never give up right now I am in an awful state waiting for some medical diagnosis of why I am so sick and tired all the time and so far I don't like the answers. I know part of it is depression and I am already on medication so my hope is the physical diagnosis will help the mental and I will feel better soon! Thank Again you are amazing I always knew you were going to do awesome things in life I am so glad I still get to see it!!

  13. Beverly Morris JenkinsApril 4, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Dayna, You are truely an inspiration, more so now than ever. Thank you for your blog, just hearing you talk about your pain and your recovery, lets me know I'm not alone. I can't say I know what you are going or have gone through as everyones depression is different - yet the same. I have and do struggle with depression and have also fantisized as you have about your own funeral. What keeps me going is my son and grandson. But some days not even that is enough - I just want to sleep away the day and sometimes think it would be better not to wake up. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I love you and know you have a big heart. God bless you as you learn more ways to deal with your depression.

  14. Dayna, You've explained depression very well. I could have written this myself, exactly the same way. You know, I never thought of not succeeding at running my car into a tree or into a bridge or telephone pole. That would suck if I didn't succeed. I always tell myself I had the "courage" NOT to commit suicide. I made a vow with God that I would NEVER ever consider suicide again. There were two times in my life when I was in the throes of depression so great that I didn't want to live. I told myself the kids would be better off without me. If I was in someone's company, my inner voice would tell me that person only feels sorry for me and would rather be with someone else. Deep down I knew what was causing my depression and suicidal feelings, but I wouldn't let myself believe it or acknowledge it. I took the blame on myself. It's my fault I'm like this. I'm a loser. I'm worthless. Every day I sunk deeper down into the quicksand--another feeling of depression. The feeling of falling in quicksand and not having any bottom to push up from. How did I get out of it? I confided in a friend that I didn't feel like living anymore (in those days, the 1980s, depression wasn't as well-defined or known about as it is now and the phrase "I'm so depressed" was used so often it lost it's real meaning) and my friend, over the phone, used a very serious voice to let me know that she loved me. She said, "If you ever feel this way, you call me. I don't care if it's 3:00 in the morning. You call me!" She said, "I love you and I would be so devastated if anything happened to you." In my mind, I thought, "Someone loves me. . . " I also started taking B vitamin supplements and something, in those days, called Km, a potassium supplement. After 3 months of taking Km, I was out of the depression. Years later, in the late 1990s, I started taking Prozac. I took Prozac for 15 years until the reason for my depression went away. When someone says to me they don't know why they are depressed, I know they are "repressing" the reason for it. Deep, deep down, in the utter recesses of your soul and psyche, you know what is causing your depression. Instead, the person with depression would rather blame themselves. That is the mode they are in. The adversary knows how to destroy each of us. Sometimes it's through smoking, or drinking, or driving recklessly; sometimes it's through depression which leads to suicidal thoughts. I hope all who read this, and who can identify, and who have just come out of the depression and are on the mend, will reach deep down, acknowledge what or who is causing their depression, and vow to never let themselves get caught up in that lie again. It is a lie. And, you're right, it is very selfish. Depression is I, I, I, me, me, me. I'm not good enough. I'm worthless. Nobody likes me. Nobody wants me. Selfish. After the drugs take effect and you can make your way back to good mental health, the next step is service. By giving service, you are acting self-less, the opposite of self-ish. It won't feel natural at first, but once you give service, you will forget yourself and think of others, the way God intended it.
    God bless you, Dayna. I pray you will always know what a superb woman you are. You are a leader. You are smart. You are worthy. You are a child of God, and I am, too. ((hugs))

  15. Great post! It is sometimes so hard to know what to do, how to help. Especially when you haven't experienced this sort of depression yourself. Thanks for the list. It helps those suffering and everyone else.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story Dayna. You are so very brave to be so open and honest about your depression. I think the more we talk about depression, suicide, etc, the less taboo it will become. My Mom committed suicide on 6/2/14 so reading other people's stories helps me understand the "why" of suicide.