Depression Doesn’t Mean Defeat - Don't Give Up!

Depression Doesn’t Mean Defeat - Don't Give Up!

by Julie Streifel

--Trigger Warning - Suicide Discussion --

I stood in the bathroom with the anti-depressants in my hand. I looked in the mirror, then down at the pills. The very thing that was supposed to be helping me was going to end me. I filled the water glass half full and pictured the look on my husband's face when he returned home from work and found me. Would he finally realize the severity of the hopelessness I had been dealing with? Would he understand that depression is more than just ‘feeling sad’ and that people don’t eventually ‘snap out of it’?

What if our families blamed me as they always did? "That was so selfish of her." "Leave it to her to take the easy way out." And to my husband, they would say, "We always thought you deserved someone better anyway. Someone who was the same religion."

I wondered, “How did I get here?” The memories flooded in…

From a young age, I felt inferior to my friends and siblings and like a disappointment to my parents. I was naturally higher-strung, outspoken, and more adventurous than my obedient, mild-mannered, older sister.

My behavior escalated into disrespect and mischievousness when I became a ‘middle’ child as it seemed to be the only way to get any attention. However, as I matured, the need to fit in replaced my desire for attention and I quickly resorted to doing and saying whatever was acceptable and proper. I became a chronic conformer and people pleaser.

Little by little, it began to destroy me inside. I couldn’t please everyone and didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. But, I didn’t want to be seen as weak, troubled, or a problem child so I became very good at harboring the unbearable sadness and mental torment I felt.

Over the next decade, the conditions worsened. A focus on everything that was wrong with me plagued my mind. I hated everything about myself - my weight, my height, my personality, how I thought and felt around others, my job - EVERYTHING. Migraines and stomach issues eventually forced me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and prescribed the anti-depressant, Paxil. Unfortunately, it did nothing except cause me to gain weight which sunk me into a deeper level of depression.

So, there I was in our apartment bathroom, the pills in my hand and the glass half-full. As I raised them to my mouth I was suddenly consumed by the overwhelming reality that this was it! This would be the end of my life. Of course, I’d thought about this many times before, but it didn’t seem ‘real’ until now. All the dreams I once had would never be fulfilled. At that moment I was faced with the decision of 1) continuing to believe that I was unworthy, incompetent, and the cause of other people’s issues or 2) leaning on my spiritual upbringing… that I was loved by God unconditionally, I was a creative, intelligent, and a valuable person with an amazing purpose. The awareness of these contradicting options instigated anger, resentment, disappointment, and disgust for allowing others to instill lies in my mind and for believing them, but it also rekindled a tiny spark of hope.

That little bit of hope filled me with courage!! Courage to go to work the next day and quit the job I hated and should have never accepted in the first place, but did to impress others. Courage to stand up for myself, not be ashamed of being me, and most importantly, seek help.

My faith and spiritual foundation prevented me from following through with the planned suicide. However, it was one-on-one professional counseling, discovering my personality type, speaking with other depression survivors, and books on the subject, that kept me from sinking to that level again. I wish I could say it has been an easy road since, but it hasn’t. Unfortunately, depression was a taboo subject back then and neither the internet nor the plethora of other resources were available back then.

I often reflect on what I would have missed if I had committed suicide that day...My husband and I wouldn't have grown into the great team we are now, our amazing son wouldn’t have been born, I wouldn’t have experienced the joy of watching him grow or creating beautiful family memories, I wouldn’t have become an entrepreneur, or lived in a place I consider Paradise; I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you…

If you’re feeling hopeless, worthless, like a burden or disappointment, or stuck and filled with despair thinking no one understands or cares; don’t believe those lies. There is a purpose for your life - there is a purpose for this pain. Don’t miss your future by choosing to end it in this dark season of your life. Reach out to sites like ADAA and allow others to help you. There are so many of us who have been through the devastation you are experiencing. Let us share some light and help you get through it. Your better life is waiting for you!

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