Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Post Original Title: An Epiphany

Originally posted: 5/23/2010

**It's nearly two years later and I feel like this is the clearest, most eloquent thing I've ever written about my depression.

Those of you that know me well know that I'm very candid about my struggle with mental illness. So here goes. I've attempted to take my own life three times by overdosing on medications prescribed to me by my psychiatrist. I'm not ashamed of this fact, nor am I proud of it, I'm just accepting it as a part of my battle against depression. The first time, I called the paramedics myself. The second time, my friend called them. The third time, I called no one, I just slept off the side effects of taking so many pills.

I recently moved back in with my parents, which seems to be the best and safest place for me for now. I'm in a transitional place - moved out of my apartment in Boulder and just waiting for August to roll around so I can freaking graduate already and move to Hawaii for awhile. I see a therapist once every week or every couple of weeks and that seems to be working for me for now.

My parents have been key in my treatment and recovery, my mom especially. She's a mental health nurse and so she knows a lot about mental illness and how to treat it. Anyway, she and I went to dinner about a month ago and she was telling me about how another nurse she works with has a son who was in kidney failure and that she and the other nurses had taken up a collection of money to help this woman during this hard time. The woman's son is 20 years old, still probably trying to find out who he is, but instead of going to parties and college and going crazy like any normal 20 year old, he was in the hospital, strapped to a dialysis machine and slowing dying of kidney failure. That day when we went to dinner, my mom told me that she was embarrassed at work sometimes because here is this woman whose son is struggling and fighting to live - just to be alive - and here she is with a daughter who doesn't want to live anymore, so much so that she's tried to kill herself three times. My mom is also very candid and open about my depression (and why not? She works with a bunch of people whose job it is to understand mental illness!), so she talks about me and my problems with her coworkers, perhaps to get some different points of view on my illness.

I haven't really given a whole lot of thought to what she said. When she said it, I was ashamed of myself and my actions because each time, I didn't really think about the consequences it would have on the people around me, I was just thinking of me. Then today, I was bored (still haven't found a new job) and was morbidly perusing the articles on mydeathspace.com. It's a website that catalogs all the people who have myspace pages who have died since about 2004. I'm not sure what the purpose of the site is, but it draws me in. It's overwhelming to see the amount of people, kids my age, dying in car accidents or motorcycle accidents and it gives weight to the MVA statistics out there. There are also an incredible number of people who have committed suicide, probably one for every two or three people killed in car accidents. A lot of those people were ages 15-18 when they committed suicide, some ages 19-24. Some posted messages on their myspace pages before killing themselves. You can click on the story of how they died and there's a link to their myspace pages, which are still up and running, despite the absence of their owners. Some people's parents have taken over their pages, turning the myspace page into a memorial and a warning to others of the warning signs and causes of their children's suicides.

There's a show on A&E called The First 48 that's always interesting to watch. I caught an episode tonight that hit me harder than the other episodes I've seen. A twentysomething girl was found strangled in her burning car, a single mother of a two year-old son. The camera crew followed the homicide detectives to the girl's parents house to notify her parents of her death, and they showed her parents reactions to the news. During the investigation, a surveillence tape showed the girl within an hour of her death at a gas station, and she was just smiling and happy and doing her thing, not knowing that she was about to die. It was all just so normal and I kept imagining being a player in that kind of situation and I felt really grateful that I have not had to experience the pain of the tragic and sudden death of someone I was close to.

You may have guessed I have a bit of a preoccupation with death...trust me, it's not something that's morbid or creepy. I'd like to be a death investigator as a career, and help families get some closure after they lose someone. I'd take a job as a homicide investigator, crime scene investigator, coroner, medical examiner, or forensic anthropologist, whatever I can get. The mechanisms of death are fascinating to me and I'd like to learn more about them.

But to get back to what I was talking about before, there are also a few deaths on mydeathspace of people who've died after battling some illness, and their myspace pages are just filled with love and inspiration and happiness, which in comparison to those of the suicides is very drastic. I saw one page whose headline was "THE FACT THAT I BEAT CANCER ONCE MADE ME A HERO... THE FACT THAT I WILL BEAT IT AGAIN WILL MAKE ME A LEGEND!!" The kid died at age 22. Every single article on there about someone who died from cancer says that they died after "a battle" with cancer.

It really made me think about what a gift it is to be alive and be healthy and be loved, and how absolutely horrible it is to be so sick that you just want to die. There are people out there who undergo all kinds of painful and awful treatments to fight for their lives against something that is killing them from the insides, and then there are selfish people like me, and all those poor people who felt that they had no reason to live on this planet, who just throw their lives away in a moment of weakness. There are numerous deaths on mydeathspace of people who died of drug overdoses. Those people make me sad, too.

It sucks to feel like you're out of control of your own life. I can tell you from firsthand experience, and I'd be willing to bet vital parts of my anatomy that you've felt out of control at least once in your life and it upset you too. But I'm beginning to understand that there are things that are more important than whatever I think my problems are. Yeah, I don't have a job at this moment, but I have a family and close friends who are there for me because they love me and they're ready and willing to help me in any way. I talked with my therapist today about how I can possibly get motivated and stop being such a flake, stop being so lazy. She said that it's like I'm looking for some special THING to just up and happen that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, but after reading some of the stories of people who've faced death head-on and kept their motivation to continue fighting, I think I may have found the THING I needed. It's LIFE!

The woman my mom works with, her son was able to accept a kidney from his father and is making a full recovery. He's so lucky, and I'll guess that suicide is probably something that will never cross his mind. Not after almost being robbed of the time he's been given on this earth would he consider taking his own life.

I just thought I'd share my thoughts about that.

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