I look at myself as somebody who is incredibly blessed, with a husband that loves me and five beautiful boys, supportive family, close friends along with a business and substitute teaching job that I enjoy and the nonprofit involvement that I make a conscious choice of being in. I’m sure from the outside it seems like everything is 100% roses. However it may seem so, because of my own battle with depression, in my mind it’s not. It is a constant struggle to remind myself of my blessings to rid the thoughts that come along with this evil disease.
For me, it just happened. Not sure where came from, or for how long it had been brewing, but all of a sudden something came over me and I just decided that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I couldn’t explain why other than the fact that I felt as if I had lived my life, done the best I could & it was as good as it was ever going to get. In April of 2000, I had ended a four year relationship. That summer, I completely lost track of most of my responsibilities outside of my 9-to-5 job, and spent most of my free time, partying. I think the combination of everything that I had gone through, the lack of sleep and the excessive celebrations, led to my thought of suicide. I had a wonderful 30th birthday. It was a party thrown by my mom at her home and I was surrounded by probably 60 to 70 of my closest friends. The evening was filled with nothing but love. But for some reason once the sun went down and everybody left, nobody really mattered anymore. I felt so alone. The pain that I was feeling inside was far greater than any joy that I was experiencing on the outside. I thought the best thing for me to do was to swallow some pills, get in the bathtub and once I fell asleep, I would drown. What followed was a 5 month intense treatment with others, suffering the same pain. I’ll never forget that first day when I walked into treatment and the rest of the group thought that I was an intern from UCLA, because perhaps, looks can be deceiving. I remember one guy in particular looked at me, shook his head in disbelief and asked me “what kind of problems could you possibly have”. He clearly had no idea of the immense struggle that I had encountered. You never know what is going on in someone else’s head. You can never judge a book by its cover. An extremely valuable lesson learned. Until the following February, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, I participated in a series of group and individual therapy sessions daily, that helped me overcome the notion that my life was no longer worth it on this planet. Groups consisted of goal setting, coping mechanisms, stress management, and more. While I never had before imagined that I would be in such a place, my time at UCLA was a g-d sent. It helped me to become who I am today. Independent, self sufficient, liberated and strong. I was not afraid to grow. Regardless of my past, I was not fearful to learn how to be a better person. For anyone that’s ever suffered from depression, I know they can understand the way I was feeling. However for those who the notion of taking their own life has never entered one’s head, I do recognize that it is an extremely difficult concept to comprehend. I faced criticism from some family and friends and it was then, I truly realized who empathized with my struggles. Was I proud of what I went thru? No, not particularly. What I was proud of, is that I took those 5 months to really find myself and appreciate that live is worth it. That there was so much more reason to live, than to not. Life is precious. We get one shot to be the best we can be. There are no retakes. This is it. I am grateful that so far I have been able to live the next, what is now, 18+ years of my life.
No shame is my goal. No judgement is my goal. Recognizing that mental illness is real IS my goal. Depression is a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to prove anything. Just the feeling of living in hell with only your name on the door. I pray we can find a way to help those that truly can not help themselves. I want to be a part of the solution. I never have been one that wanted all the money in the world. But trust me when I say, I would give anything not to live with this disease. It is not made up, it is horrific and it exists. I am beyond thankful for everybody in my life and I encourage anybody that is struggling to please reach out because you are not alone. I promise.
I am walking with NAMI because the work they do is very important to me. NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans impacted by mental illness. Donating to NAMI through my page is easy, fast and secure. NO amount is too small. Your donation will make a difference and help people and families affected by mental illness right here in our region. Thank you for your support!