Sometimes, I think to myself “Gosh, Tonyia, you really need to write about something a little more upbeat.” And then I remember that what I say each week is important. Not because I am important, but because everyone’s story is different and has the power to speak to a distinctive audience.
Last week I went over to visit a friend who was having a rough day. She was depressed, but making excuses as to why she wasn’t. She kept saying I’m fine, I’m fine.
Here’s the truth: She wasn’t fine. She was full of reasons why she didn’t need help, but I could see the pain in her eyes. She may have been able to fool her husband and other friends, but not me. Looking into her eyes was like staring into my own.
We sat and talked for a while. Then she said something that sent shivers down my spine: “I would never kill myself because my kids would probably find me and then they would be more f’d up than they already are.” She went on to tell me that she had been in her closet at some point with a belt around her neck, afraid. Not afraid of death though, afraid that she would “f” that up too “just like everything else”.
Notice that she didn’t say she wouldn’t kill herself because she had too much to live for or because she wasn’t suicidal. She didn’t want her kids to find her. In her mind, because her household responsibilities were being met, she wasn’t really depressed. I mean, how could I be truly depressed if I do continue to take care of my day-to-day responsibilities?
The part of this story my sweet friend doesn’t know is how our conversation that day opened my eyes. I realized that I get out of bed everyday because I have to wake my son for school. Many days, once he is up and moving, I bury myself under the blankets and sleep a few more hours. One day this week, he sent me a text from the bathroom telling me he was going to need a ride. (Yes, sometimes my kids text me from the bathroom). I really, really had hoped to sleep longer that morning.
After I brought him to school, I ran some errands and found myself at Home Depot. I was not happy to be there by 730. At that time of day, no one looks at me like I somehow got lost on the way to Macy’s and ended up there by mistake. I didn’t spend 20 minutes looking for the perfect 1×4, I didn’t gaze endlessly at the power tools making a mental wish list, nor did I play in the bins of nuts and bolts. That was the moment I realized that something wasn’t right and reached out for help.
This morning, I got a text from a friend that reminded me of the scariest truth about depression: most people with depression are able to hold it together until the day they aren’t.
For a woman in California, yesterday was the day she had to stop pretending everything was okay. Earlier this month, she had been at a football game: laughing, carrying on & having a good time. She was pretending, the way so many of us do. She was either too ashamed to speak out or was not aware of how close to the edge she was. She took her own life, leaving behind a family who will probably never understand why this happened. A husband who will question himself and why he couldn’t see his wife needed help. This is a pain that no spouse should ever have to endure.
So here is what I say to you: Don’t make the mistake of pretending everything is okay for so long, you almost believe it yourself. Carrying that burden is exhausting. Hiding what is really inside can be suffocating, tricking your mind into thinking there is only one choice left for you. Please reach out. Talk to someone. Call someone. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800.273.8255) has someone available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit their website or pick up the phone. Leave a message here and I will do my very best to find you the resources you need in your area.
Please don’t suffer alone. Help is out there. You just have to ask.
~Tonyia Doyle is a Navy Spouse, mom to 2 handsome sons, and back with another round in her blog series, Tonyia: My Real Life. She continues to blog as a way of talking about her own struggles with depression and other mental health issues. Through therapy and medication, she is working towards her own healing and has chosen to again share her real life with MSoS readers in hopes of raising mental health awareness. Please join her over the next six weeks as she shares her continuing journey.