Nearly three years ago, on Wednesday, November 27, 2002, began the worst twenty-four hour period of my life. For nearly twenty-four hours, I was 99% convinced that I should end my own life. The trigger of this episode doesn't really matter; the cause of it was the disease of depression.
I don't think I've ever talked about anything so personal on this blog. The reason I'm talking about it now is that I think it's important to make people aware of this debilitating disease. It strikes people in all walks of life: young or old, male or female, rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful. Even if someone appears to have it all together, sometimes beneath that veneer there is despair. Anyone looking at me might think that I had "no reason" to be depressed. But depression is not a reasonable disease.
I was at my father's house for Thanksgiving. My sisters were there too, but my husband was not. But there could have been a hundred people there; I felt so alone that it wouldn't have mattered. Thoughts of worthlessness were racing through my head, and I could hear a voice inside me taunting me with that worthlessness. Since I was so worthless and caused only pain to those around me, the nicest thing I could do for the world would be to eliminate myself.
I stayed up all night, haunted by these suicidal desires. There was only one rational bone left in my body. Thank goodness it was there! It was that bone that convinced me to read a book, to distract myself from those thoughts. It also convinced me to call 1-800-SUICIDE if I ever got beyond just thinking about suicide.
Eventually I got so exhausted that I did fall asleep for a few hours. When I woke up I didn't feel quite as bad, although I still felt profoundly sad. I ate the Thanksgiving meal and I took a nap at some point that day. But it was a terrible ordeal that I never want to repeat.
I don't think I'll ever repeat it. I'm in such a different place than I was then. I certainly have depressive tendencies even today, but I have learned a lot of new behavioral mechanisms to prevent myself from getting to that state.
If there's one thing I've learned from counseling, it's that anniversaries of traumatic events are traumatic, too. Maybe not as traumatic as the event itself, but it's still difficult. So Thanksgiving is very hard for me. I feel so sad for that lost woman three years ago, that woman who almost gave it all up. I'm just thankful to be alive.