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Friday, April 19, 2024

Struggling To Stay Alive…


Part 1 of a two-part series…

A dear friend of ours opened up on social media about her struggles through out the years with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide in September during Suicide Awareness Month. After reading her post that gripped my heart and many other readers, I asked her if she would be willing to share her story with our readers at Resident Press. She has graciously opened up her heart to take us through some moments in her life that were part of the most difficult times of her life. This is Part 1 of a two-part series of her life through the eyes of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

“My very first memory of my anxiety and my depression was around age four. I had to go to a new daycare for a week, and I can vividly remember the fear I felt. In my four-year-old mind, I was not safe. Everyday that week, I got physically sick. At the time, I know my parents thought, “Oh she just doesn’t want to go to school.” Normal kid stuff. Looking back, I know the feelings that I were feeling were anxiety & depression.

As I got older, my depression and anxiety steadily got worse. I would go months with no episodes, but I remember I would have bouts of feeling completely alone, feeling worthless and like I was not enough.  I would withdraw from family and friends.

During those days, I saw no hope. While it seemed my struggle with depression came and went, my battle with anxiety was an every second of everyday battle. If my mom was late home from work, I had thought of ten different scenarios of what may be happening to her. I would rarely spend the night at a friend’s house. I feared being in a situation I could not control. The thought of not being the perfect basketball player led to getting sick so often my doctor told me to quit playing.

Depression and anxiety were not terms that I knew growing up. No one in my family really did. It was uncharted territory. I honestly felt that what I was feeling was normal and that it would pass.  Everyone’s thoughts were that I was a normal emotional teenager, and it would go away. Then came the thoughts of, ‘If I’m truly a Christian, I shouldn’t feel this way. I should be happy. And if I’m not happy, what’s wrong with me?’

Things became really difficult the fall and spring after I graduated high school. Life was changing, and I was terrified. I made a lot of bad choices. I started experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks can be different for each individual person, and for me, I had difficulty breathing, would begin shaking, loose feeling in my hands and feet, and sometimes even loose feeling in my facial muscles. The first panic attack landed me in the ER thinking I was having a stroke. Then as time passed, I was having full blown panic attacks every few weeks. People normally only have a few in their lifetime. After the panic attacks started, I really started to fall into a depression that lasted longer than normal.

I’m normally a pretty happy person. However, during those few months, I was a completely different person. I started skipping classes. I wasn’t eating. I dropped about 30 pounds in a few months. I would sleep from 9PM until noon the next day, wake up, and then go back to sleep a few hours later. For me, sleeping meant things didn’t hurt so bad. I would have small fits of rage where I would just cry and want to hit anything I could find. During these few months, the thoughts of suicide really started to come up.

One afternoon in April 2009, I tried to take my own life by overdose. It was a sunny day. I was in my kitchen.  My mom was at work, and my dad was out of town.  I was all alone. I cannot put into words the feeling I felt at that moment. I felt completely alone. I was not myself. I truly believed in that moment that everyone would be better off without me. So, I took as many of my anxiety pills as I could…”

To be continued…

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