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

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

Big Break. 58 to go…

So I was at Big Break last week for Spring Break. I have no idea how to write this so we’re going to write it Haiti-Post Style.

Part 1: Communication
The school I go to has a large deaf community and the group I went to Big Break with was split almost in half, deaf and hearing. Now I happen to know very little American Sign Language (ASL,) before the trip my signing was limited to “thank you” “sorry” and “prude” and this meant that I essentially couldn’t communicate with half of the group. It was so frustrating, not because I felt like I wasn’t being understood but because I felt like I couldn’t understand. I wanted to be a part of the conversation and I wanted to feel included (this isn’t to say that my deaf friends weren’t trying to include me because they were, but it was a totally different language that just can’t be taught in a day.) However, I was really blessed to be living with my friends Quinny and Tina who were both very patient with me when it came to communicating and taught me a lot. In general, all of my deaf friends were very patient and understanding and I’m so glad that I got to know them. I learned a good bit of ASL but I also learned a lot about God from them all and we had so much fun together. So thank you Quinny, Tina, Jessica, Sam, Brian, Kemoy, and Dakota for being so understanding and teaching me so much. I am so glad that I got to know each and every one of you.

1010138_10152713096494972_763538187_nSome of the wonderful people I went with. Aren’t we all so cute?

Part 2: Pain
I wrote a whole post about this earlier in the week and you can check that out here. I got really bad sun poisoning which made this whole week really difficult. I was in so much pain and felt so sick for so much of the week. It was absolutely miserable.

10151912_10152705134309972_585210133_n
This picture doesn’t even begin to capture how terrible it was, but I thought it was funny and pretty fitting that my Golden Key was burnt into my skin. 

Part 3: Depression
I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression this winter. I had to deal with the emotional aftermath of that even in beautiful, Sunshine-y Florida. It was such a roller-coaster of emotions to go from the dark and cold of my college town to the brightness and warmth of Big Break.

Part 4: Homesickness
I was so homesick for so much of the week. I was tired and missing my parents and my siblings and my best friend. I was just wishing that I could be at home. As the week went on I felt more and more at home as I found myself better connecting with the people on the team. It’s been a really hard transition, going from years of going on trips with the same group of people and knowing them all really well and having them know me to doing things and going on trips with people who I barely know. Being new is foreign and scary, but it has been really good. It has stretched me to get out of my comfort zone, to try something new.

Part 5: Worship
I love to sing. I feel most full and right and complete when I sing and it is the easiest way for me to worship because it is such an emotional thing for me. The worship was so incredible at Big Break, so different. Sitting with our deaf friends meant that I got to learn a little of how to sign the songs which is such a beautiful form of worship to me.

This was one of the songs we sang all week and it is one of my favorite songs. I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago and haven’t stopped listening to it yet.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me;
You’ve never failed
And you won’t stop now

These words strike something deep in me.

Part 5B: Prayer
I can’t explain the way prayer moved me during the week, but it was incredible.

Part 6: Sharing My Faith
I am really bad at sharing my faith. I just want to be liked by people and have a terrible fear of rejection and between these two things I find it so terrifying to share my faith with people. Especially the people closest to me. I was really challenged during the week to put aside the things that hold me back from sharing my faith and not be afraid to talk about one of the most important parts of who I am.

Part 7: My Story
I’ve realized that my story has changed so much in the past year. I’ve done a lot of things, some that I’m proud of and some that I’m not. You can never see the path you’re on while you’re on it, but looking back it is all so clear. I wish I hadn’t made some of the mistakes that I did, but as I look back I can see all the ways those decisions have shaped me. As I was sitting on the beach with a couple of friends I could see the contrast between how I’m choosing to live and how I was living and I was suddenly so thankful for the people I was sitting there with and for how far I’d come in just a few short weeks.

All in all I am so glad that I went. It wasn’t easy, but it was so so worth it.

Question of the Day- What did you do with your spring break? If you’re not in college, what have you been up to recently? I want to hear all about it!!

Mission of the Day- Go outside and dance for 47 seconds to celebrate spring!

Love you!

Abby

Pain. 59 to go…

I deal with a lot of pain in my life. I had been struggling with back pain for a long time before I found out about my slipped disk and that has been really hard for me to deal with. You see, back pain has always seemed like an “old person’s” pain to me. Not the kind of pain a teenager should have to struggle through. I had no explanation, I had no solution. I could only put up with it. Finding out that there was a legitimate cause for this pain was such a relief. I suddenly had a source, something to blame. I could start taking steps to healing. Physical therapy was so helpful and I could start to feel myself getting better. But there was still no clear solution for the pain. See, they can’t do anything to fix it. I’m just going to have to live with this pain for what might be the rest of my life. That’s one of the scariest things you can tell an eighteen year old. That there is a chance this pain will never end. That you’re never going to feel perfectly healthy again.

I have really poor eyesight so I am eternally jealous of everyone who can wake up every morning with perfect vision. I know that I will never experience that until I get so tired of my eyes that I get laser surgery. I will never know what it’s like to wake up and see the whole world clearly. This is what it’s like to live with constant pain. Never knowing what it’s like to sit for more than twenty minutes comfortably. Never being able to bend over and pick something without cringing. Never being about to run without clutching my right hip and hobbling along behind everyone.

I got sun poisoning on Sunday. That sucked so freaking much. I mean, I’m pretty white and I’ve gotten some pretty terrible sunburns in my life, but this was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I found myself lying on the bathroom floor in our hotel room on Monday morning just begging God to kill me because I was in so much pain and felt like I was going to vomit and pass out. I’ve been trying to stay positive about it, but it’s so hard to stay positive when I feel so incredibly helpless. I had only been outside for a couple hours and had reapplied sunscreen three or four times. The worst part has been how long it’s taking to heal. It’s been four days and I still get so tired that I can’t get up, my body hurts so much that walking is an almost impossible task, every inch of my body simultaneously hurts and itches.

I feel like I’m back in Haiti but in the worst way. I feel helpless and like I’m holding my team back. Between my back pain and my stupid sun poisoning I haven’t been able to participate in as many of the outreaches and activities as the rest of my team. I feel like a rock, dragging them down. Something they feel obligated to carry around and care about, but not something they want around. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all and they are so fun to be around and I’m learning so much from them and I do feel like they are including me and want me around, but I feel like I’m a burden on them which is exactly what I didn’t want to be.

Last night I felt one of the most intense pains I have ever felt in my life. I was with a group of people from my team and we were in a very intense time of prayer when I suddenly felt this incredible shooting pain in my shoulder. I’m used to pain, I’ve grown accustomed to my  everyday pains. But this was something I’ve never felt in my life. I found myself curled up just crying and praying over and over “please God, make it stop.” How do you deal with a pain like that besides just praying for an end? There is no other way. There’s nothing else I know to do.

Pain is so hard. Pain is so real. Pain is so unique. We each experience pain so differently and it is so hard to understand a pain that is not your own. I often feel like my pain is never going to end, that I’m going to be at the mercy of my body for the rest of my life. It feels like there’s no hope of things ever getting better. But I’m constantly reminded that I am not alone. As I lied on the floor sobbing and begging God for an end I was suddenly surrounded by friends praying for me. I couldn’t even make words to say what was going on, but they were there to pray and hold me until the pain passed. I have been blessed to have people in my life who care about me and I am loved by a God who does not let his people suffer in vain.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that the pain I feel from day to day is not a curse or a punishment. I know that it’s a part of me. An ugly, sad, dark part of me but still a part. It has taught me the power of prayer and has taught me so much about reliance on God. It has taught me patience as I wait for relief or as I try to understand the things that are happening to me. But mostly it has taught me how to stay positive. It’s so easy to just throw a pity party for myself and to block out everyone else, but there are still so many good things in my life. So. Many. Good. Things.

I wish I knew better how to wrap this up, but I don’t. I just have to continue to remind myself that there are good things left in the world and that there is always hope of healing.

Love you!!

Abby

62 to go…

How do I explain how I’m feeling? Yesterday I was on top of the world and everything was so beautiful and today I feel so deeply deeply broken. I am so incredibly homesick. I want to go home a sleep in my bed and see my parents and my siblings at my cat and my friends. I want to go to my church and have a place to cry.

The worst thing about college is that there’s no place that is yours. There’s no where to run to when you need a good cry. There are no good hugs. There are no home cooked meals.

My best friend left for Spain today. This shouldn’t be a big deal. She’s already hundreds of miles away and I know she’ll be back, but the thought of not talking to her for ten days is almost unbearable. I miss her so much.

I feel so damn out of control of my emotions. One minute I am so happy and so alive and the next I’m crashing and I feel like I’m dying. The biggest thing I feel is that no one understands. I can’t put into words how ugly and confused I feel. Why is this happening to me? How can the sun make me feel like there’s still hope and beauty in the world and the rain can suck ever last bit of joy out of my heart? I feel like I’m crazy. Like I’m out of control and just losing my mind.

I pray and pray and pray for this stupid sadness to end. For this unexplainable and seemingly unfounded grief to stop. It’s not like I have a reason to feel this way. I know that life is so good. I know that the world is such a beautiful place and I know that I’m deeply loved. So why don’t I feel it? Why can happiness just dry up?

For this second, I feel fine. Like the sadness has passed, but it always comes back. Like a clenching fist in my gut trying to pull the breath right out of my lungs.

Why this God? Why this? And why me? I want something or someone to blame. I want a reason for feeling this way. Grief is bearable when you know its source, but I have no answers. I have no reason. Nothing happened. No one died, no one broke up with me, no one said anything hurtful. I just feel.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to call. I want a hug and some warm tea. I want to go to bed and never get out.

There’s nothing poetic about pain like this. Nothing beautiful to write about lost love or shattered dreams. This is ugly, confused, broken, angry pain. The kind you bury deep down and don’t tell anyone about for fear of the judgement and the misunderstanding. It’s the kind of pain you try to explain away with a lack of sleep or overly active hormones or just a bad day. But it’s the kind of pain that has no explanation.

I’m sorry.

121 to go…

Have you ever looked at a room full of people and thought to yourself “no one else is real. I am the only real person on this planet?” Have you ever caught yourself thinking that you’re the only person who has feelings? That, maybe everyone else are just robots?

It’s crazy right? We are all living on the same planet and yet we slip past one another. We are living in the same minutes and hours as everyone else, but we somehow are experiencing them differently.

Sometimes I think that It’s just me. That I’m alone amongst all of the robots. That I’m Harry Potter and everyone else is just Cedric Diggory who is important for the moments when he is interacting with Harry and his life, but ceases to exist when Harry doesn’t need him.

My back hurts so bad that I want to cry. I got 10 X-rays yesterday and then the doctor called saying that I need to come in to discuss the results but I can’t get in until Monday. So until then I just have to suffer and pray that I make it to Monday.

Love you!

Abby