Woodville Road is a quiet, 2-lane country road that changes its name as it winds through the different towns, from Jamesburg through Millstone and on to Jackson. My 380 Horsepower engine Jaguar loved to hug the curves of the road, as it growled from bend to bend. As I flew down the road I thought about the pain and anguish I was in, I wanted it to stop. My speed continued to rise, 50 mph, 60mph, 70mph, 80mph, I roared down the road staring at the tree in front of me. “Get out of the pain, Suzy…end the pain.” I saw the tree, I heard the gravel under the tires, the car spinning, rocks flying, dirt everywhere. And then the car just stopped, like the house after the twister in The Wizard of Oz. I sat in silence, I didn’t hit the tree. In my mind’s eye I saw my mother’s head in her hands crying, “I can’t lose another child.” I slammed on the brakes and spun out without hitting a thing. I sat there for what felt like an eternity crying before I could muster the energy and guts to drive home. That was 2009.
I thought about suicide. I did it in a split second as I drove down a road I have driven on many times. I hadn’t really thought about it before.. I guess it isn’t always as pre-meditated as we think, I didn’t plan to try to hit the tree that day. I realize I didn’t go through with it, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Social media posts that say, “call the suicide hotline,” “You are not alone,” “mental illness is a disease.” All correct. All fall on too many deaf ears and sightless eyes, especially those suffering.
I fortunately got help, and I have employed many people and tried different modalities to find peace, to help me when I’m triggered, to manage my depression and be happy. I am, what I call, in recovery. Recovery begins with understanding what triggers these helpless feelings, learning how to control them, learning different ways to stay even, not allowing the ups and downs to have such a hold.
There is a place for traditional therapy here and I believe is a must when you are triggered. I did not use medications, I know many who found them helpful especially if the chemical imbalance is acute. I needed that focus and concentration from someone who is invested in the outcome. I needed tools to help me.
I have become acutely aware of my triggers and my gremlins. My greatest and hairiest gremlin is that I am not lovable. That comes from a deep rooted place and many things trigger that for me. Recently it was triggered by the friend who told me I drained them, who no longer made me a priority. It reared its head and I saw it immediately, helping me to find ways to deal with it quickly so that it wouldn’t spiral into the depression that I fight hard. And it didn’t. Through writing, talking, meditating, mirror work and spending time with people who do love me, I was able to fight off the spiral. Spending time alone reminding myself that I am loved, by me, was the biggest change since 2009. I have worked hard to not allow others to define my happiness. I work hard at loving me for me, giving me a break and cutting myself some slack.
As I read about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, their success not being the saving grace, I thought about how people who have never dealt with mental illness or depression may not understand. I hear some talk about it in terms of happiness equaling money. Since these stars are wealthy what is there to not be happy about? Since they are successful in life and well known, what is there to not be happy about? Happiness is an inside job and when you fight demons and have a disease that makes you unstable in your feelings, those demons win.
I have fought hard for those demons to lose. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days that I still think, “I’m not good enough and nobody cares if I live or die. I should end the pain.” Those feelings don’t stay long and I always have a good come back for them.
Depression is a disease. It should be talked about the way we talk about heart issues or cancer. It should not be hidden and used against people. No more should people hear “snap out of it.” When my ex-husband told me that my negativity pushed him into the arms of another woman I asked if he would have treated me the way he did if I had cancer instead of depression. He had no answer.
This disease needs to come out of the darkness and into the light so we can see it, understand it, have more compassion for those who fight it and learn. It cannot stay in the dark any longer.