If you had told me many years ago that my life would be what it is today I would never have believed it. In my freshman year of high school I had reached a point in my life where I thought ‘I don’t want to live anymore’ with no hope for things to get better. I couldn’t possibly envision my future at that time because I became so overwhelmed by what I was dealing with.
There are many situations and scenarios that can put us in a state where we feel there is no hope for a better life. What I have come to learn through the years, however, is that suicide is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Most people facing severe depression with thoughts of suicide don’t actually want to end their life. They want an end to the pain and distress they are feeling.
I Don’t Want to Live Anymore — A Path to A Better Life
Get Comfortable Talking About the Uncomfortable
I understand that feeling of complete hopelessness that you can’t see a future for yourself. It takes strength to push past it and sometimes we feel we just don’t have it in us to do that. If I’m being honest, talking about my situation is still uncomfortable even after all these years. It’s not easy talking about a time when you were the most vulnerable that you wanted to end it all. I did not find the courage or strength to get help when I needed it. I kept what I was facing to myself because I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone. I had contemplated taking my life a few times and even became self-destructive.
There was one incident when I found a bottle of liquor in a cabinet my parents never opened. I wanted to numb the pain I was feeling so bad that I saw this as my outlet and snuck it in my room, hidden where my mom wouldn’t find it. It started as a few sips followed by a glass of soda until I was buzzed at first. I did this a few times until I gradually got used to it. I imagine this is what it must be like for people who become addicted to drugs. For a little while you don’t feel the hurt or pain, but that’s just it. The feeling only lasts for a little while and the damaging effects can last much longer.
There was still half a bottle full when I came home one day after having a particularly bad day at school. I was so distraught that I went straight to my room and immediately grabbed the bottle without thinking about anything else. I downed what was left in the bottle. Just to be clear, this was not my attempt at suicide although it very well could have gone that way. For a 15 year old who was less than 100 pounds you can imagine what happened after consuming half of a fifth of vodka. I ended up in the ER with blood alcohol poisoning. To this day I stay clear of that particular spirit! Just the smell reminds of this day.
It was around the time that we had recently lost 3 people that were really close to our family. In reality I was so consumed by what I was dealing with inside that I hadn’t even processed their deaths at the time. My parents, however, believed those events were what caused my behavior that night and I led them to believe this was the case, not revealing what I was actually struggling with. I had also dropped out of color guard, an after-school activity I had actually enjoyed before but now it was the very last thing I wanted to do. I was a really good student, never cared much to go out to parties, never got drunk prior to sneaking their booze into my room, or engaged in reckless behavior like this so they had no reason to believe something deeper was going on.
I wish I could say the alcohol poisoning incident was the turning point that I knew I needed help. Depression can leave you not thinking logically. These behaviors are not uncommon with depression disorder and can eventually lead up to suicidal behavior. If you are at a point that you are engaging in reckless behavior that can cause harm to yourself, it’s a sign you need to seek professional help. Early signs of depression that signal it’s time to get help include:
- Loss of interest in doing things
- Difficulty doing regular activities
- Feeling down, sad, or hopelessness all of the time
- Feeling bad about yourself, that you are a failure, or letting others or yourself down
- Eating disorder – loss of appetite and not eating or overeating
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating on things such as school, work, or watching tv
- Feeling tired or have very little energy
Severe depression disorder can lead to more serious symptoms that warrant immediate help. Self-mutilation by means of cutting, excessive piercings or tattooing or burning yourself are harmful ways of coping with frustration, anger, and emotions you struggle with. Finding ways to numb the pain via drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. are also major red flags that what you are dealing with is bigger than what you can manage on your own. It can also lead to severe health problems for you later on that cannot be reversed or cured with treatment. I was fortunate my drinking didn’t continue to become a habit after that night and no permanent damage resulted from it. My parents made sure to get rid of any alcohol that was left in the house after that night.
It was clear that I was unable to manage my emotions but still could not find the courage to tell someone about it. Fear often leads people suffering with depression from getting the help they need but in most cases depression does not lift on its own. When it became too much for me to bear any longer I planned for a night that I knew was coming up when my parents had a dinner to attend. I wrote a letter expressing how much I loved them and apologized for taking matters to end my life.
Truthfully, I didn’t really want to die and I didn’t want to hurt them, but I saw it as my only way out of the pain and emotions I was struggling with. When they returned home that night my mom found me unconscious in the bathroom. The paramedics were able to revive me and I was immediately transported to the hospital. After an evaluation at the hospital I was transferred to a behavioral hospital where I would receive the help I should have sought out months prior to reaching that point.
During my stay at the hospital I underwent group therapy sessions with other individuals battling depression, suicidal attempts, and mental health issues. It helped talking among other people around my age that were going through similar feelings and an understanding of the complex issues that can lead to depression disorder. I also had one-on-one sessions with the attending psychologist. Per my care plan I had to follow up with an outpatient therapist once I was discharged along with medication to help treat my depression.
At this point you’re probably thinking I got help and was all better, right? That was not the case, at least not right away. Even during therapy I could not find the ability to fully disclose what brought me to the point that I want to die but the main goal was to overcome my depression and heal mentally. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the reality is it wasn’t that easy. When I was released from the hospital things weren’t much easier than they were before. It would take a great deal of time to move past my depression. People knew I had tried to commit suicide and the fact that I had to return home and face them after the fact posed its own challenge. Those thoughts that I don’t want to live anymore did subside but had not completely left my mind. My emotional problems I was struggling with were also still very present and I had to find a way to work through that. I had even thought I was so hopeless and worthless by the fact that I couldn’t even succeed at taking my own life.
My therapist suggested focusing on someone or something else to find my purpose in life. One of the steps to coping and managing depression is to do something for someone else. Helping others or volunteering puts you in a position to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own and provides a sense of self-worth. It’s also a great part of the healing process to avoid falling back into that previous state of mind by providing distraction.
I knew another friend of mine was going through a hard time at home. Even though she never revealed to me what she was feeling I recognized the signs. Her change in appearance and subtle changes in behavior became clearer to me after experiencing depression firsthand. I also knew she wasn’t the only one. I had tried to hide what I was feeling when I was at my darkest point so no one would suspect something was wrong with me. I understood the reality that there were likely other people at my school facing depression and possibly thoughts of suicide too for a number of issues teenagers face that may have appeared to be fine.
I knew what I had to do so I took a big step out of my comfort zone and spoke out about depression and suicide to my classmates for one of our catechism classes. At the time they were covering relatable topics about peer-pressure and I took it as the perfect opportunity to speak out. The teachers and youth leaders were very encouraging and gave me the floor to share my voice.
It was no secret that I had tried to end my life. I lived in a really small town and news travels fast as to what happened and why I was away for weeks and still in therapy. Everyone I was about to speak to knew. That didn’t make it any easier to speak to them about it. The truth was no matter what I went through or spoke about in an effort to reach others with similar feelings there would still be people who would judge me and talk about me. Teenagers can be brutal and for those who have never experienced those feelings it can be difficult or impossible to understand how someone reaches that state of mind. None of that mattered because if I could reach at least one person to let them know they weren’t alone and they had someone to talk to it was more than worth it.
I didn’t expect the overwhelming support from the majority of my classmates afterward. As soon as I finished speaking and stepped down to take my seat they embraced me for having the courage to talk about such a sensitive topic. My hope was to reach out to my friend and show her that she wasn’t alone but I believe I helped more people that night feel a little more comfortable about speaking up.
After battling with depression and deep emotions it took time before I could feel like my original self. Recovering and healing from depressive disorder is a gradual process. I’m sorry to say it’s not like you wake up one day and everything is grand and all is right in your life. There are signs that you can tell you are responding positively. You will feel less overwhelmed and able to concentrate and focus on other aspects in your life. Your energy levels will begin to improve as well as your sense of self.
For antidepressant medication treatment your doctor will evaluate your progress at regular visits by assessing your symptoms. Antidepressants are given upon diagnosis to help in the treatment of depression and determined on individual needs and assessments. Important things to remember when you are undergoing treatment via antidepressant medication include – being compliant in taking your medication and follow up visits with your doctor or therapist. These medications generally work over a period of time, sometimes up to 6 weeks or more and require consistency by taking them as directed to see results. Follow up visits are important to keep as well so your doctor can determine the effectiveness of treatment and evaluate if alternative methods may be required.
Today I still struggle with stress and anxiety but for different reasons. The typical parent and adult stuff we face on a daily basis can weigh us down over time and I’ve learned how to cope. I think having survived one of the most difficult times in my life certainly helped and I hope to encourage others to find hope for a better life. I have a much greater appreciation for life today because I came very close to losing mine and not just once. Had I succeeded I never would have met my now-husband and have the family I have today.
Battling Depression in a Modern Age
During that difficult time in my life nearly 20 years ago I didn’t have the access to technology like we have today. I didn’t have a smart device or social media where common issues are put on display for everyone and the brutal scrutiny of others. I’m grateful for that because I may have actually attempted suicide sooner than I did and possibly succeeded. The issues many teenagers and even young adults face today are far greater. There are many variables that can make it seem like the problems you face are stacked against you.
Over the course of the past 20 years the rate of suicide in the U.S. has increased by 35% and that’s based on statistics taken in 2018 before COVID-19! Suicide rates among the male population were also 3.7 times higher than females.
Technology has made it much easier to access things that can further exacerbate depression disorder and engage in harmful behavior. That being said, it also can have its benefits too with easier access to helpful resources. It has also provided the opportunity to bring awareness of depression disorder for those who feel lost, alone, or completely hopeless. If you have found your way to this article, chances are you are experiencing similar feelings or emotions. There is an alarming number of searches every month on search engines for similar terms to ‘I don’t want to live anymore’ including ‘I want to die.’ It also serves as a sign whether intentional or not that you want help.
If you have been experiencing major depression episodes with thoughts of suicide or self-harm I encourage you to reach out and talk to someone. I lived to tell my story but through the years I’ve seen so many people who did not. I can’t tell you what the future holds for you but I can tell you that you will never find out for yourself if you choose to end it all. It does get better and there is hope no matter what you’ve been through. I know it’s hard talking to someone and the fear of what others might think or not wanting to appear weak. I promise you there is someone who is willing to listen. If you feel uncomfortable or unable to confide in someone you feel you can trust, turn to a hotline that can provide professional help with resources that are available to you. Even during a pandemic there are still people who you can reach out to for help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free service that provides confidential support in times of distress, crisis, and prevention. Store this number in your phone, share it on social media for others facing depression, and have it on you at all times.
How is Depression Treatment Determined?
There are different forms of treatment in depression and each of these address various sides of the disorder. These are typically determined by a doctor based on their individual assessments. Psychotherapy and antidepressant medication are the most common and effective methods of treatment. Sometimes a combination of both are recommended. Psychotherapy treatment addresses the thoughts and beliefs which steer the direction of depression and suicidal ideation. Psychotherapy also promotes stress-coping measures.
Antidepressant medication aids in the treatment of depression symptoms by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. Neuromodulation and lifestyle measures are also taken into account when treating severe depression. Neuromodulation is a process where nervous activity is monitored by controlling the psychological levels of numerous branches of neurotransmitters.
There are cases where anti-depressant medication is not always effective even in combination with psychotherapy. This is referred to as treatment-resistant depression. In cases where traditional treatment measures are ineffective Ketamine may be used under controlled circumstances. This is given intravenously under the supervision of a healthcare professional in titrated doses over a period of time. In approximately 50% of patients who have received this form of treatment it has been reported to provide fast relief of depression symptoms in as little as a few hours lasting days or a few weeks. It is being used in emergency psychiatry and in patients struggling with suicidal thoughts or intent. Ketamine isn’t recommended for everyone and has limitations to its effectiveness over a longer duration of time.
How to Cope with Depression Disorder
Taking steps to improve your well-being are a crucial part of the recovery process with depression disorder as well as prevention. Hope for a better life comes with seeking professional help for evaluation of your mental health needs followed by self-care techniques. The sooner you seek out professional treatment for your depression the easier it will be to manage and prevent relapse.
A great place to start is by keeping your physical health in check. Depression disorder and mental health-related issues can sometimes come from an imbalance that can be addressed from a physical health issue. Healthy eating habits and getting enough sleep are always recommended and can prevent recurrence of depression. As tempting as it may be when you have a busy schedule, avoid skipping meals. Plan ahead to incorporate healthy meals and snacks into your daily routine.
Not getting the rest your body needs can leave you more susceptible to stress and depression. Have a designated bedtime and stick to it to ensure you are getting enough sleep. Once you’re in bed don’t pick up the phone to check your social media. Screen time at night can disrupt your sleep so it might be a good idea to keep the phone out of your bedroom at night. Use a clock instead of your phone to set your alarm for the morning. Consult with your healthcare physician if you experience insomnia or regularly have difficulty sleeping that prevents you from getting sufficient rest at night.
Taking a supplement might help meet your body’s needs and help in prevention of depression symptoms. There are studies that suggest omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in patients with mild to moderate depression. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as certain types of fish can help you meet the recommended intake for optimal brain function. Another surprising supplement that may help is Vitamin C. A deficiency in this nutrient has been shown to affect mood disorders and depression.
Always talk to your doctor first about your health and medical history along with any medications you are taking before starting a supplement. A blood test may be needed for diagnosis and treatment of nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.
It helps to write a journal of your thoughts and take inventory of your emotions. You can keep it somewhere private but at least writing them down and getting it out is a step towards acknowledging your feelings. Don’t minimize your emotions as something insignificant or dismiss them. Your feelings are valid and worth noting.
Take a media detox. When you become overwhelmed by stress, frustration, and emotional distress take a break from all media forms including social media, local and national news. Use this time for reflection or meditative exercises to help center your focus on positivity.
Avoid sources that can lead to bad habits. Don’t buy or keep alcohol in the house if you are experiencing any signs of depression, stress, or anxiety. Stay away from toxic environments where there may be access to drugs or alcohol such as parties. It’s too easy to become a temptation. Teenagers and adults who struggle with their mental health are more at risk for substance abuse. The American Addiction Center reported over 8 million Americans who suffered from a mental health disorder also suffered with substance abuse disorder in a 2017 survey.
Avoid being around toxic people in your life. If you have friends or family that bring you down, make you feel worse about yourself or your situation, or have bad habits such as drinking or drugs, you need to remove them from your life. You need to be around those who can support you and benefit your emotional well-being.
Don’t isolate yourself from the rest of the world. This may sound contradictory to the previous tips but you still need a safe and healthy environment where you are around people. In these current times faced with a pandemic and social distancing it has been especially challenging trying to stay connected with others. Simply stepping outside for a walk through your local park, neighborhood or even the grocery store is a great way to be around others and not via a screen. Go to a library, check out a local museum or look into local places you may not have been to before for a change of scenery.
Take up a new interest or hobby. Depression can cause you to lose interest in things you once loved or enjoyed and it can be really difficult to regain your interest during an emotional state. Try doing something you haven’t done before such as taking a dancing class, cooking or baking classes, art or pottery. When I was in high school my mother would make cookie arrangements and cookie cakes for a number of events. I would sometimes help with decorating the cookies and found this satisfying and a fun way to get my mind off of other things that were bothering me. Take up nature walks or bird-watching as a healthy hobby to get out in nature.
Volunteer or work with animals. If you struggle with social interaction between people, animals can be your next best friend, especially dogs. Volunteer with your local animal shelter or veterinary clinic by becoming a foster to a pet in need. It’s a great way to find comfort and provide a service for others in need to gain a sense of purpose.
Take a mental health day. We all have bad days at work or school from time to time. Sometimes the stress and chaos can become too overwhelming and we feel the weight of it all that at times it may seem too much to handle. Take a day to assess your mental health and find productive ways to address your emotions. Take the day to unplug yourself from everything and really focus on your emotional well-being.
Reading can have a surprising effect on your mood. If you have ever watched a movie with a really compelling theme that moved you, books can provide that same effect. There are some really good reads that provide inspiration and motivation to help you find purpose. You might want to check out these good finds at your local library or bookstore. They can also be found online, but a walk through a bookstore can provide a calming atmosphere that you find a new interest in on a regular basis. If you’re not really a fan of reading physical books or print opt for audio-books that you can tune into during a relaxing bath or on your daily commute.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a novel for young adults that follows a teenager with an unconventional style of thinking. It puts into perspective the life of a teenager in high-school and serves as a reminder of a character many can relate to.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizinni entails the trials and challenges of a teenager in a new school. The story follows him through his struggles with depression and an attempt at taking his own life in a compelling book that offers some humor in the midst of it all.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a classic favorite for all ages. It is written about an orphaned girl who goes to live on a farmhouse known as Green Gables. She is unlike anyone else with a wide imagination and longs to be accepted as Anne of Green Gables.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler provides rich inspiration, comedy, advice, and collective stories that aim to provide hope from a real perspective that speaks to the reader like a friend.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick is a literary fiction novel that has also been converted into a movie. It provides a great reminder to take life one day at a time and inspires hope for battling depression.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a memoir of her seeking out what she really wanted in life escaping from a job she loathed and a marriage she felt trapped in by exploring three diverse cultures. It offers a great incentive to rediscover the greater things in life.
Finding safe and effective ways to distract yourself from the feelings of depression are great for coping and recovery. Just don’t expect to see immediate results in relief of your depression symptoms. Recovering from depression and suicidal state of mind is still a process, one that requires you to acknowledge your emotions. You can’t put off your feelings forever because it will eventually catch up to you. Find a reliable outlet to speak about your feelings and emotions with someone or a support group. If you have tried reaching out to someone with little or no success try another source.
When seeking treatment or options for a medical problem it isn’t uncommon to seek a second opinion if you don’t agree on the first one or find it unhelpful. If you feel your needs are not being met for your emotional well-being don’t stop seeking help. It’s important during recovery and healing to continue working through your emotional needs for improvement. There are many forms of treatment and not everyone responds the same way. Trust that there is a way out of the slump you are in; you just have to find it.