Choose Life, Choose Love

I think the hardest thing about overcoming depression is recognizing that you’re depressed. You sit there with these sad feelings, knocking yourself down, and just think that the way you feel is natural. You’re not good enough. What ever event or occurrence that caused you to feel the way you do is your fault.

I think the second hardest part about overcoming depression is admitting it. It’s terrifying to look in the mirror, nonetheless other peoples face, and admit such a deeply insecure feeling. What will people think? How will this affect my relationships, career, status, etc? What if I admit it and find out that no one even cares?

It didn’t take me long to recognize I was depressed because I am not a “downer” by nature. I enjoy being around people and I realized fairly quickly that my new desire to avoid everyone was symptomatic of something being wrong. I love being in front of choirs and I knew that on that Sunday afternoon this past February when I wanted nothing more than for rehearsal to be done and to just be anywhere else that I wasn’t operating in my right mindset.

Unfortunately, admitting it to the right people took a little longer for me to do and wasn’t even by choice. These people were very close to me so they could tell without me saying anything but I couldn’t muster the courage to verbalize my weakness. I hate feeling weak nonetheless actually admitting it even though there is nothing wrong with being weak.

Being able to openly discuss it has been a tremendous thing for me to overcome. I started writing this blog post in late May and am just now to the point to where I can finish and publish it.

I’ll say that I was never once suicidal. I had fleeting thoughts about what life might be like if I wasn’t alive but it was always a curiosity and never a “want”. I did however want to escape my recent troubles. So, starting in February this year, I drank and I drank, and then, each night, as I realized that I was losing coherency, I would just drink some more. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. One especially rough night it didn’t work even though I needed it to more than ever. So after my ninth beer in less than 2 hours, I went and grabbed four Xanax and took them. It was all about numbing my pain. I didn’t want to confront it, I didn’t want to share what I was feeling with others, I just wanted it to go away.

The Xanax worked. Very quickly I felt nothing at all, not one single emotion. I sat there drunk, high, and expressionless having achieved my goal of “no pain.” Then I panicked. I noticed that I literally could feel nothing. Not just emotionally but physically too. I pinched my arm and felt absolutely nothing. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I went into the kitchen (to avoid the people who were around me, none of which knew I had drank so much or taken the Xanax) and slapped myself a couple times. Nothing. At this point, I was terrified. At this point, I hit rock bottom. At this point, I grabbed a knife and began cutting it along my arm.

I wasn’t trying to cause myself harm or even cry out for attention, I was simply a stupid drunk that was scared beyond reason. I didn’t want to die, quite the opposite actually. I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t feel anything so my irrational mind told me that I if I could just feel again, I’d be okay. Through a series of very quick events which I honestly can not remember, the people I was with figured everything out. The beers, the pills, the knife…everything happened very fast and they took great care of me. They took me to the emergency room and after several hours and speaking with multiple medical professionals (none of which I remember), I was released to the people that brought me in.

That night, I consumed 12 beers, four Xanax, no food, had a BAC of .28, and cut marks into my arm that I still have to look at every day. The doctor told me that it is very possible that I could have died that night whether I wanted to or not. I almost definitely would have, had those people not rescued me. (I can’t possibly express my love for these people, literally having saved my life.)

It all started with my inability to admit my depression. “It’s not really a problem”, “I can handle this”, “As long as I can numb the pain, I’ll be fine”. Any excuse to neither confront nor admit it. But you see, had I realized the sincerity of my problem and been able to get over my own pride, that night might not have ever happened. Had I been willing to get real help for my internal struggle rather than hiding behind an external struggle, I might not have almost lost everything.

With Robin Williams recent death, a lot of people are writing and talking about the severe effects of depression and suicidal thoughts. I know that I’m just adding to that and I’ll freely admit that mine was a temporary situation and mindset but I hope if you are struggling with any thoughts of a “lack of worth”, you’ll get help. Take it seriously and know that you’re not alone. It is a problem. You can not handle it. You can’t numb the pain and you won’t be fine. You must confront it. Don’t fall down the well and lose everything.

Life is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Choose to love it, choose to love others, and choose to let others love you.

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