Feb 20, 2013

When They SEEM Fine

When people talk about those who've lost their lives to suicide they often talk about all the ways they seemed fine.  But the thing is that mental illness is a cunning and evil bastard.  Depression with grip you so tight you can't breath but convince you that you can't reach out for help.  It's lies and manipulation will look different for different people, it may even look different from day to day for the same person.
Depression can make you sick, physically sick.  In college I was in and out of the hospital several times before anyone realized that the only thing really wrong with me was in my head.  But the physical symptoms were real. Depression can make you withdrawn and unable to function.  This, this is the form most people look for and can most easiliy accept.  When you can't hold yourself together long enough to shower and dress, people can accept that there is something wrong.
But when you continue to live your day to day life, getting to work and taking your kids to their activities as if nothing's wrong, that's when people don't know what to do.  Some are unable to believe that there is something wrong.  But I promise you that just because you saw me smile or laugh, doesn't mean I'm ok.  Just because I'm surrounded by friends and family, doesn't mean I have never felt more alone in my life.
Just because I have so many great reasons to live, doesn't mean I am able to see a single one of them through the cloud that is depression.
To know me, most days, is to think that I have my shit pretty together.  MOST of the time I love life and know that despite a lot of crappy situations, I have a lot to live for.  But when depression raises its ugly head, the voice in my head changes.  I am unable to look on the 'bright side' or see the glass as half full.  Instead of seeing the happy faces of my kids as a reason to carry on, I see all the ways I don't stack up as a mom.  
Depression can take any words you tell me and twist them until all I can hear is how I'm not good enough, haven't done enough, or will never be enough.  Depression tells me that the people I love would be better off without me in their lives. Depression tells me I am unworthy of the love and support I am surrounded by.
And when that small, sane, part of me fights against the depression.  When she screams for help in her small quiet voice, depression tells her how horrible it will be if I ask for help.  Depression tells her how no one will ever look at me the same again.  That I'll be committed to a scary place for an unknown length of time, unable to see my kids.  Depression tells me that once people know the TRUTH about me that they'll take my kids because after all, they WOULD be better off without me.  And then I imagine my life without them and decide that if they're better off without me, I can bare to be around without them.  Depression is a deceptive evil bitch who can convince you that suicide is the most UNselfish thing you could ever do.

Depression has taken me to the edge more than once and led me to attempt suicide.  Thankfully those attempts failed.  Most recently depression spoke to me while driving down a deserted road on a dark rainy night.  Depression almost convinced me that I could drive my car into a tree, making it look like an accident so that my family would be left with insurance money to take care of the kids.  Depression got me to speed up.  It got me to make a plan.  And the ONLY thing that stopped me THAT night, was knowing that there were friends at the other end of that road waiting on me.  Knowing in that exact moment that they would be left wondering where I was...was the only thing that slowed down the car that night.

When I was able to share this several days later with just one person, my greatest fear was realized, I left work to walk into an intervention of sorts.  I fled.  I couldn't face it.  It is impossible to put into words the mix of fear and anger you feel at that moment.  I ran away in that moment. I walked away from my kids (who were safe with family) and was lost.  I hit rock bottom that day, yet it took several more weeks to seek the medical help I needed.  

Everyone's story is different but I'm pretty sure that the friend who I sat and ate dinner with that night.  The night I ALMOST tried to kill myself, would NEVER have known what was going on in my head that day.  

The face of depression and suicide is not always the strung out mug shot that we often see on TV.  The face of depression is more often the smiling mom sitting next to you at baseball.  Or chatting happily with you at a party.  Depression is a scary manipulative disease that tells us we have to pretend to have it all together until that moment on a dark rainy night when it tries to convince you you aren't work pretending anymore!

To read more stories of those who've dealt with depression and suicide attempts visit Stores of Survivors...


  1. Good for you for being brave enough to put yourself out there like this. I was diagnosed with ptsd, depression, and anxiety at 13 and have been struggling with those ever since - I'm now 21. When I see people (usually kids or young adults) "crying out for help" on facebook or other forums like that I always try to reach out to them because so many people see their depressing statuses and go "ugh, he just wants attention" etc and I hate that they don't realize that they must NEED attention if they are doing this. Anyway, when I try to convince them that it gets at least a little bit better with time, the main thing I turn to to explain what helped me was realizing that in my mind, there are two people. There is the real me, and there is the mentally ill me. Being able to recognize that certain things I said to myself, believed, and thought, were not "really me" but were instead this disease talking to me. When I am able to realize that these thoughts are this unhealthy disease, it's at least 2% easier to try to ignore them. It's still really really hard and I still struggle with them, but recognizing that it is a mental illness, addiction or otherwise "unhealthy" part of you that is saying these things is a great first step. So I love the way that you point these out as being the disease instead of you.

    I was in therapy for 5 years and it was great. It's not like TV or movies and it can be really helpful if you're able to find a therapist who you "click" with and can really trust. I don't have health insurance but would love to be back in therapy with a great therapist and would like to stay in therapy full time for the rest of my life, really. I think everyone can benefit from it, even if they are emotionally "healthy" but having something like PTSD that isn't "curable" makes me feel like I could benefit from therapy for the rest of my life, most likely.

  2. This is so brave, Lisa. Sharing your story and letting everyone know that we just don't know who is silently suffering is a great service to others. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I think you're stronger than you think you are.

    And if you ever need anything, you've got my number. xoxo

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and adding your voice to a subject that we really need to NOT be afraid to talk about, especially among friends. You are indeed a strong and fabulous person and the world is a much better place for it :)

  4. I read this because Melisa posted the link. My father took his life in '93 (My brother and I were both married, but my sister was still in college). He had everything going for him and seemed like he had it all together. However, he had stage 4 cancer and was clinically depressed...two major diseases at the same time.

    That said, talk and talk some more. Find a friend who you trust. Your kids need you and they will not be better off without you no matter what your illness is telling you at the time.

    I don't know you, but I want to hug you and tell you that you are a special person. Thank you for sharing this....(I wish I could say something that was more eloquent.)

    God bless you.

  5. I agree it is the most UNSELFISH thing to do. However, you can't argue with certain people about it.

    I don't blog about it because my family doesn't know that I've been diagnosed with the kind of depression that doesn't ever go away. I was diagnosed in college (though I think it reared its ugly head in high school).

    Never would have guessed, right?

  6. Awesome and honest post Lisa. I am happy that I have met you and would miss you at Blogher 13 :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this Lisa! It has been a long time since I suffered from depression; I almost forgot what it felt like. I was young, so many of the things you said are exactly how I felt, but I could never put it into words, which I think many people have trouble with so it makes it hard to explain how you really feel. I think this will help a lot of people and hopefully give others a better understanding of what it's like to live with depression. You are very brave and VERY strong!

  8. Thank you for being so open and brave about this, Lisa. It helps others, including me, understand a little more what depression is and the effects it has on the one suffering. It helps us open our eyes and hearts to it a bit more. I have yet to meet you (but will soon!!) but I already know that you are a gift. I cannot wait to give you a hug!

  9. It was very brave of you to write this. I'm glad that your attempt was not successful and I'm glad you were able to get the help you need.

  10. This. This hits me right in the heart. One day, I'll be able to open up too, but this - gives me lots of hope and the courage to keep going. Thank you. :)


Thanks for leaving me a comment!!