I’ve wanted to share my story since the launch of this community. However, I felt like it isn’t really a story…where do I start? And, don’t stories have an end? I know I’m still growing and learning every day, so it feels like an incomplete story to share… finally I decided I’ll just blurb just a small portion of my journey here in the hope that someone might need it or relate to it.
I come from a family with a history of mental illness – mostly depression. Many of my family members are medicated, some go to therapy (on and off regularly), and others have turned to alcoholism. My mother’s brother committed suicide when I was 4, he was 22.
My close work friend had a lifelong struggle with depression that he tried to hide. I only knew because I could read between the lines of his dialogue and related to it. Most people thought he was just an asshole but I knew he was masking deep pain. He took his own life a few years ago. It completely shocked and rocked my workplace.
My would-be Father in Law had early onset Alzheimer’s, and after losing his wife of 50+ years to cancer, his disease caused his mental health to sharply decline, and along with his grief, the dark place he was in drove him to take his own life just one year after my friend.
For a long time, their deaths were the reason I didn’t end my own life. I’ve seen and felt the familial grief of losing someone to what seems to be an invisible but very very real battle, and even though I wanted to end my own pain, I knew what hurt I would leave behind. This left me feeling even more hateful of myself and my life because I was staying alive for other people. I felt I had no purpose and hopelessness for the future, for the possibility of ever enjoying life. It’s weird writing this down, because I still can hear and feel as clear as day the feelings of self loathing, worthlessness, spiralling out of control to a place where I just wanted to be done. I didn’t want to feel those things anymore. At the same time, it’s also weird because I know exactly how real those feelings and thoughts were to me at the time, I know now that they are not true.
My partner has stood by me since day one. During all my bad days and negative inner vocals. It has been difficult for him because he does not personally relate to mental illness and depression, but he wanted to understand. When I would express ambivalent thoughts, or thoughts of hating life, wanting to die… he just broke down and said, “Please. Please get professional help. I want to help you but I don’t know how.” So I gathered up courage to talk to my Dr. She referred me to a Behaviour Specialist in her office, who then ‘diagnosed” me with Cognitive Distortions. She encouraged me to take advantage of our work assistance program and gave me some techniques to recognize and combat my distortions. Guys, You have no idea the feeling of…relief and comfort that came from knowing my behavior had a name, and that I could actually fight it.
Fast forward about 3 years and I have gone to that dark place of hatred, self loathing, and hopelessness a few more times. It’s not “once and done.” I have been working on changing my inner dialogue, and stopping the wrong thoughts in their tracks before they get out of control. I’ve been in a bad place and I don’t want to go there again. Maybe I’m more prone to demons of negativity, but I know each day that I’, above ground is another day I’ve won. I killed it by getting out of bed. I slayed it by going to work. And I’m fighting it by sharing the tip of the iceberg right here.
While I realize my experience might not relatable for everyone, I want to emphasize the importance of getting help. Even reading this, if you’re on this page, know that you are not alone. There are resources and people out there to help you fight the battle you face. It made a world of difference in my life to finally reach out. Literally life or death. I know it is daunting, it feels …so many feelings to reach out, but take that deep breath. You can do it. I believe in you. No one is judging you