Depression and Suicide

This is something I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time, but something that I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write about. My hometown has lost too many people over this school year. Too many young people. Too many high school students. Too many friends. Too many brothers and sisters.

I want to make it clear that I am not here to talk about the specific incidents that have happened this year, because it’s not my business and I don’t fully know what happened and it’s not my story to tell.

Suicide is really hard to talk about. It’s taboo. It’s scary. It’s personal.

I have struggled with chronic depression for thirteen years. For as long as I can remember I was told that I’m a drama-queen and that I’m over-reacting or trying to get attention or making things up. And sometimes it was true, sometimes I just needed someone to acknowledge that I was still real and that I was hurting. But the problem with this was that I never got the help that I needed. I was told so many things: that my faith wasn’t strong enough, that I needed more prayer (I’ll admit that this has made me pretty bitter towards the church), that I needed exercise or a better diet. And all of these things contributed, but at the end of the day, an imbalance in your “happy-brain-chemicals” (as I like to call them) needs professional help.

There were days, even years, where I considered suicide to the point of knowing exactly how I wanted to do it. There were days where I had to steady my hands to keep myself from running straight into on-coming traffic.

It took me three years, new friends, seven doctor’s appointments, and a lot of tears to get where I am.

I tell you these things because I think it is so important that we acknowledge the real pain and emotions that all people experience. As a fairly healthy girl in a happy middle-class family, going to a top-notch school, with good friends, in a healthy and loving relationship I have never looked like the poster-child for depression. I don’t look like someone who needs help. We can’t write people off because we don’t see their struggles. We cannot dismiss people because they are “too young” or because they just “need attention”. This is never helpful. Never.

I don’t say this as someone that is cured, or even as someone that is “healing”. I say this as someone who is coping. Someone who is working every day to keep going.

I’m begging you to listen to the people in your life, to make them feel loved and cared about. And maybe you don’t understand why they’re acting the way they are, so ask. Don’t assume that you know exactly what’s going on. Don’t roll your eyes at someone who is expressing their pain for being “over dramatic”. And DO NOT, under any circumstances, tell someone who is thinking about taking their life that they are being ridiculous or “selfish”. These words are so damaging and will do nothing but push that person away from you.

I’m so sorry to all of the friends and families who have lost someone to suicide. I want to make it clear that I am not saying that this is your fault. I know how hard this is, please draw people around you who can love and support you.

If you are someone who is considering suicide or fighting depression I want you to know that you are loved and valuable and there are people in your life who will listen. Maybe that person is your mom, your friend, a coworker, or you can send me a message. I’m really sorry that there is something so hard in your life that this seems like the answer. Your feelings are valid and important and you are not crazy.

Here is a poem that I wrote to someone who is close to me:

please
know that
you’re loved

when you are
too sad to speak
and too afraid to
ask for help
know that there is
someone missing you

there are no
useless people
and no
meaningless lives
and you are no
exception

you are the sunrise
and you get brighter
with each passing
moment
but know
that you have
more warmth
to give before you
burn out

The National Suicide Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255
Chat with someone: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Love you,

Abby

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A hard day. 34 to go…

Today was the hardest day I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have days like this very often, but sometimes I am held down by the weight of my depression and I physically cannot make myself get out of bed. I haven’t questioned my desire to continue to exist on this earth in a long time, but today I couldn’t convince myself that living was really worth it. I stayed in bed until mid afternoon. I sat in the shower and cried because I could feel the physical ache of my sadness in my stomach. I couldn’t make myself eat anything or drink anything. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never felt this way but it’s as though I was fighting with myself to keep breathing.

I fight it every day. The hopelessness, the loneliness. I have to shake it off every day, but some days it just gets the better of me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the worst part of feeling like this is that nothing set me off. Sure, life is stressful and things are hard right now, but that wasn’t the problem. So on top of feeling like death I’m frustrated with myself for feeling the way I do. I feel like my heart is breaking and my bones are hollow and I don’t know why. I know that I’m deeply loved, I know that my life has meaning, I know that the sun still shines.

This inability to explain my feeling often leads to me isolating myself. I have a deep fear of being too needy in my closest relationships and driving people away from me. I also live in a sort of constant fear of people seeing what a mess I am and deciding that I’m too much to handle. So I don’t talk about it. I just try to manage it myself and end up feeling even further away from the people I love. I’ve been really struggling to remember the words Meesh said to me this summer:

this is not your fault, this is not some weakness that you have, this is just a hard thing in life that you are going through

I’ve been trying to remind myself of this, and I know it’s true, but it’s so hard to believe some days. I can’t help but look at the people around me and wonder why I can’t be happy and functional like them. I can’t help but wish that I was different. It feels like a weakness. It feels like just one more way that my body is failing me, and this time it’s my mind. It’s just one more thing to scare people off. It’s just one more reason that I’m undesirable. It’s just one more way I’m not good enough.

I did get out of bed today. It took everything in me, but I did it. I got up, I showered, I ate something, I washed some dishes, I talked to my roommates, I wrote this. I was able to find the will to keep going. Yea, it was a hard day, but I did it. And I’m slowly learning how to hate myself less and how to find the motivation within myself to go on. It was a hard day, and I’m tempted to say that it was a bad day, but I know it’s days like today that are making me better. I’m learning from days like this and I’m growing from them. They’re teaching me to see hope. They’re reminding me that I’m still loved and still alive. So I’ll ask you to stick with me through the hard days. Stick with me when I don’t know if I’m going to make it to tomorrow. Because you’re helping me get through these days. You’re reminding me that there is hope. You’re reminding me that you still love me and I’m still alive.

Maybe it was a hard day, but it wasn’t a bad day. I’m getting better.

Love you!

Abby

I don’t know. 45 to go…

I’m living in a perpetual state of “I don’t know” right now.

I’ve been really struggling through some hard feelings recently and the hardest thing about feeling these things is that I don’t know why I feel the way I do. I just broke down the other night and in trying to explain to my parents what I was feeling all I could say was “I don’t know, I just don’t know.” I know that life is good, and that I’m blessed and loved, but that doesn’t make these horrible, irrational feelings any better. If anything, knowing that my life is so good makes it worse, it makes me feel guilty for feeling so horrible all the time. My wonderful best friend Meesh said the most meaningful thing to me last night, she looked at me and said “this is not your fault, this is not some weakness that you have, this is just a hard thing in life that you are going through,” and I’ve never been that happy to hear anything in my life.

I’m also really struggling through one particular relationship in my life which has left me in a constant state of “I don’t know.” As Meesh and I talked last night she had lots of valid questions about this relationship and I just had no answers.
What do you want from this? I don’t know.
How do you feel? I don’t know.
Where is this going? I don’t know.
Do you think this is smart? I don’t know.
GUH I JUST DON’T KNOW

My mentor wants to know where I’m at spiritually and I just don’t know. However, I’m starting to understand this one better. I feel far from God, and for the first time, I feel like I’m not the one who moved. I feel abandoned and lonely a good bit of the time. I’m finding it really hard to not blame God for all of the confusion, frustration, and hurt that I’m feeling right now. It’s really hard to see how God is working this one together for good, it just hurts.

I find myself saying over and over “I just don’t know,” about the hard and important things in my life. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know why I feel what I do, I don’t know where I am, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to get out of bed, I don’t know.

I wanted to take a second to thank everyone for the encouragement that you’ve been to me. The comments, the e-mails, the Tumblr posts, they all mean so much to me. Thank you so much for sticking with me through this hard time. In these past couple of weeks it has been really hard to see the light at the end of this tunnel, but your support has meant so much to me. Thank you.

Love you!

Abby

The middle of the afternoon. 46 to go…

I always find myself alone late at night wishing I wasn’t so alone. My days are full of activity and people and laughter and fun but the sun goes down and I begin to feel empty and alone.

I guess I’ve always felt like this. I remember being 5 years old and dreading bed time because I didn’t want to be alone.

I’m just such a night person, I could (and often do) stay up until ungodly hours and then sleep til noon and feel like I’ve had a productive and meaningful day. I feel most alive when the stars are up, I feel like there is so much potential and freedom and space at night. Have you ever driven somewhere at 4am? There’s not a single other person on the road. You can drive for miles and miles without seeing anyone. You’re totally alone, you rule the world.

At school we would always make the joke “oh it’s only midnight, it’s practically the middle of the afternoon!” Unless you’re like me you have no idea how accurate that is. My day is just starting at midnight. I write at midnight, I read at midnight, I think, clean, sing, compose, dance, decide at midnight. It’s the time that I feel the most alert and ready to take on the world.

At school I was never alone at night. Between watching movies into the wee hours of the morning with my best friends and having a roommate, I could count on never being alone during my favorite hours of the day. It’s so  hard to be home where my family goes to bed by 10pm and my friends have jobs and responsibilities in the mornings. I’m often left alone at night with Tumblr and my fuzzy socks and something about this can be really destructive.

You see, I start to get really sad late at night. I start to feel this deep loneliness aching in my bones, the need for human contact clawing at my insides, a dark sadness settling in my veins. I physically feel it. And the more I feel like this the more I find myself reblogging depressing pictures, writing angsty poetry, and listening to sad music.

I’ve been listening to this song over and over again and I think it’s breaking my heart.

Pretty girl with the butterscotch hair
Your eyes and the sunshine smile you wear
I can see how you make his soul glow

Have you ever heard anything so beautiful? I want to be that girl with the butterscotch hair. I want it more than words can say and more than makes sense.

It’s like my thoughts have time to catch up to me, maybe I always feel like this but I just manage to run away from these thoughts during the days and it’s only when I slow down that I remember how I feel.

Maybe it’s just been one too many late nights alone, but the hard days are getting harder. I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my head up on the bad days. I honestly feel like I’m dying on the inside some days, like I’ve run out of the will to keep going. I keep telling myself that I’m OK and that the sun will come up and that there will be people around who I know love me but it’s like I can’t pull myself out of these slumps. I have no idea how to deal with this besides just continuing to run away from these feelings. I need hugs and help and I don’t know how to ask for either.

Abby

The Likes of Us. 47 to go…

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
– John Green

Have you ever listened to music like this? Music that has the potential to heal souls and fix the world?  I’ll admit that I’m one of those horrible people who discovers music I like and just listens to it over and over again until I know every single world. I can’t think about anything else. I bathe myself in the words and the chords and the rhythm until it feels like a part of my own skin. I can’t bare to listen to anything else for weeks on end.

original-time_traveler_cover_squareYou can download this album for free from Noisetrade.

If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, (which you definitely should be) then you know I have been listening to this album on repeat for 10 days straight. According to my iTunes, I’ve listened to this album 36 times through (it’ll be 37 by the time I finish writing this.) Which means I’ve listened to this album between 3 and 4 times a day, which is up to four hours a day. I would listen to it more if there were more hours in the day. I like all of it. From the fun and upbeat songs to the slow and beautiful ones, I just love it.

This album is changing my life and I can’t even explain how or why. It’s like it’s fixing my heart. I don’t know, I can’t even make sense of how it makes me feel.

The song “Indian Summer” is probably my favorite because I just love the words.

I’m looking for the girl with Sunshine in her soul. 

Something about that speaks to me in a way I don’t understand. I want to be described like that. I want someone to look at me and look for the words to describe me and only be able to say “it’s like… it’s like she has Sunshine in her soul. Sunshine with a capital S.” Maybe this has something to do with my love affair with not only physical Sunshine, but also the idea of Sunshine. I think it really does have to do with The Girl I Want To Be, which I’ve written a lot about. I have this idea of who I want to be, and I’m getting closer and closer every day, but this song just embodies this beautiful, Sunshine-y, peaceful kind of girl I want to be. I don’t know. It just speaks to me.

I also love “Hurricane” probably for the same reasons. As a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, the language it uses just speaks to me.

when you grab my hand
I can’t move no I can’t think
you course through my veins
like a flood in the streams
you waken me up
like a bolt of lightning
how can you love me
so fierce and so sweet

And then the chorus is just so strikingly beautiful.

in the drought of my soul
oh i’m losing control
oh how you know how to kiss like the rain
you stole my heart like a hurricane

I could listen to those words over and over again. “Oh how you know how to kiss like the rain.” Isn’t that just stunning? I want someone to talk about my like this. I want it so badly. I want to be a storm, so fierce and so sweet, who moves gracefully while still being a whirlwind. Does that make any sense?

I feel like this album is full of the love songs I wish were written for me (that sounds really sad, but I promise it isn’t.) It just makes me feel happy and loved on the inside. Maybe I’m just filling my desire for summer-lovin’ (had me a blast) with this album, and I think that’s OK. This is not to say that I’m discontent, I’m so very happy and I just feel like this has done nothing but help water the peace and joy that’s planted in my heart. Does that make sense? I don’t know.

Sorry if none of this made sense. I just am loving this right now and it’s making me feel a lot of things (mostly good things) and I wanted to share it with you. I can’t make much sense of how I feel right now, both about this and just about my life in general, but I knew I needed to share this. It’s the sort of thing that haunts me until I share it with everyone. I just have a lot of feelings about a lot of things and this album is helping me to make sense of it all. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I want this to make sense, and I’m not sure it does. Oh well, I’ve made less sense over less important things.

Mission of the Day- Listen to this album the whole way through and then tell me what you think? Does anything speak to you? What’s your favorite song?

Question of the Day- What have you been listening to this summer? Do you have any suggestions for other things for me to listen to?

Love you!

Abby

Feeling strange and awful things. 52 to go…

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.”

I seriously can’t say thank you enough for all of the lovely comments and e-mails I got about my last post. It has been so incredible and encouraging and it has meant so much to me.

I haven’t been able to write anything that insightful or uplifting recently. I’ve been really struggling to just feel normal and OK on a day to day basis. The hardest part of feeling like this is not knowing who to talk to about it. I’m really having a hard time not being bitter toward a couple of my very close friends at the moment and I don’t have the words or the emotional energy to talk to them about it. I don’t know what to say.

TANGENT ALERT: I lied about not being bitter about being single. I am bitter. So bitter. Not because I don’t know how to be on my own or need someone to complete me, but because it’s so hard to see my closest friends float in and out of happy relationships and to be left behind. It’s soul crushing to never be good enough for someone else. (And before you’ve say it, I know, I need to be good enough for myself before I can hope to be good enough for someone else. But right now I’m sad and angry and I’m going to write and feel whatever I want.) So yes, yes I am bitter.

As I was saying, I don’t know who to talk to about this. The people I most want to talk to about it are either far away or pissing me off. There are people I want to talk to but I don’t know them quite well enough to dump all of this ugly stuff on them. On top of not knowing who to talk to about this, I don’t know how to talk about it. What do you say?
“Yea, everything just feels wrong and I want to cry all the time and I can’t be happy about anything but I’m not really sure why. Other than that I’m fine!”
How do I express that everything is wrong without having reason to feel the way I do? One of my best friends Mike and I talked about this the other night. Just talking about how difficult it is to actually talk about the things we’re feeling or thinking.

But I want to go back to that Looking For Alaska quote. As hard as these things are to convey or talk about it’s good to talk about them. Just writing about it has given me the opportunity to see that other people are feeling things similar to what I’m feeling. My depression always has a way of making me feel like I’m the only person to have ever felt the way I do and I’m forever in shock when people tell me that they understand how I’m feeling. I always feel so isolated and horrible about myself for feeling the way I do and it is such a relief to know that I’m not alone. Maybe I’m still crazy and there are just more crazy people out there than I had previously assumed, but at least we’re crazy together.

Love you and thank you for all of the kind words and support!

Abby

Things I’m good enough at to hold a title in. 53 to go…

More and more I’ve been feeling like I’m not good at anything. I’ve always wished I was an artist or a musician or a writer. I make art, but I’m not an artist. I make music, but I’m not an musician. I write, but I’m not a writer. I’m not good enough at any of the things I do to hold a title in them.

Things I’m good enough at to hold a title in:
Sending ugly snapchats
Drinking tea
Dancing in a way that makes people uncomfortable
Laughing loudly
Getting emotionally attached to fictional characters
Improvising stupid songs to the chords C, Am, F, G
Making cringe-worthy puns
Stealing forks from dining halls
Doing stupid voices
Spilling stuff on myself
Falling asleep anywhere at any time of day
Tweeting stupid, self deprecating things
Reading books
Accidentally drawing attention to myself
Remembering just about anything you’ve ever said to me
Throwing clothing on the floor
Crying at movies about heroin addicts
Not washing my hair
Wearing clothing that doesn’t go together
Playing the same song on my ukulele over and over until my roommate is sick of it
Breaking/ruining/losing things
Eating pizza
Forgetting to use punctuation
Making lists about stupid things

I’ve been really struggling recently. I can’t get my room clean, I can’t wake up in the mornings, I can’t sing, I can’t eat right, I can’t listen to happy music. The number of times I’ve cried in public places over the past three weeks is actually embarrassing. There are times when this funk passes and I can see the Sunshine again and I feel like I’m coming over the hill but then there’s something to set me back.

Maybe it’s this boy, maybe it’s the fluctuating weather, maybe it’s that I’m homesick, maybe it’s that I’m physically sick, maybe it’s the stress of the end of the semester. I don’t know.

It’s not even that I’m struggling to feel happy, it’s that I’m struggling to feel normal.

I think the worst part is this not knowing. I don’t know how to express myself. I don’t know how to say what I’m feeling and even if I knew what to say, I don’t know who to tell.  I feel like I don’t make enough sense to explain myself to anyone, and I also don’t feel like anyone wants to hear what I have to say anyway. Guh. I don’t even know.  GUH.

I need a hug and 16 cups of tea and a good cry.

Mission of the Day- Make a list of things you are good enough at to hold a title in.

I’m sorry that I haven’t had anything of much value to say recently. One of these days I’m going to actually get out of this funk and then all will be well.

Love you!

Abby