Trigger warning: suicide, suicidal thoughts & ideation
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.
September 9, 2016 – one year ago, on the eve of suicide prevention day – I wanted to die.
The significance of the date didn’t hit me until the next morning because I didn’t even know, at the time, that it was suicide prevention month or day.
Honestly, the only reason I didn’t actually attempt to take my life that night is because I didn’t have the energy or the means to do it. I was so tired from sobbing and not being able to breathe (combination of the crying and hyperventilating on top of my year-round allergies and deviated septum that leave my nose completely blocked as soon as I start to cry). I was frozen in my bed. Not to mention I didn’t actually want to kill myself. I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to do it myself. I just didn’t know how I could possibly go on living and I saw no way out of the horrible way I’d been feeling. I felt like the feeling would never end.
What made things worse was that there was not a single reason for me to feel like this. Nothing situational or environmental triggered it. It was purely physical.
I was in the midst of the most severe depression I have, to this day, ever experienced. The only explanation I can come up with is that the combination of antidepressants I’d been on for over a year had stopped working.
It came on very slowly, beginning sometime in May or June, not peaking until this late night in September. I had been more physically active, in the months leading up to the beginning of this, than I’d been since high school. I had been feeling like things were finally going well in my life. I may not have been completely satisfied with where I was, but I was making progress and I was okay with that. I don’t feel comfortable saying I was happy, but it was the closest I’d been to happy in years.
I noticed in June that I was feeling a little down, but brushed it off as a few bad days. They weren’t really even bad, just not as good as my average day had been. Yet, it continued. As this slightly down mood didn’t seem to be going away, I asked my doctor for a referral to a new counsellor or therapist because the social worker I’d been seeing (he was part of my doctor’s clinic, so it didn’t cost me anything to see him) no longer seemed interested in being helpful to me. Subconsciously, I think I knew something wasn’t right, but my conscious mind wasn’t ready to admit that I was no longer “in recovery,” as they say. I knew something was off, but I still didn’t think it was that bad. I was sure it was temporary. What I didn’t expect was that even with seeing a new counsellor, my mood would steadily continue to decline.
I’d slowly been arriving at work later and later because I just couldn’t get going in the mornings. Thankfully my employer is not strict about what time we arrive, as long as we put in our hours and don’t miss meetings and deadlines. Most of us techies are not morning people and they understand that so a lot of the team isn’t in at 9:00 on most days. So it really wasn’t a big deal and no one expressed any concern.
In addition to arriving later and later, my legs were becoming so tired and weak that simply walking from my car to the building was exhausting. Then I had to go up a flight of stairs and each time I felt like my legs were going to give out as I climbed those stairs. I’d even started losing my appetite, which was especially strange for me since my depression and anxiety usually cause me to overeat.
At lunch, I would leave the office just to be alone. Even though the office is generally fairly quiet, and I could go an entire 8 hours without speaking to a single person, being around people was exhausting. Each day, I was so fixated on the fact I didn’t want to eat that I would just sit in my car and cry. I’d usually force myself to go pick up something small to eat, but rarely got enough food to qualify as an actual meal. A lot of the time I couldn’t even finish was I was eating. I don’t generally eat a lot during the workday anyway (it’s always when I’m at home) but this was extremely unusual for me. I would go park my car somewhere and just sit and waste my time until I felt like I’d been “out” long enough to go back to the office. Then I’d struggle through the rest of the day, go home and sit in my emotional numbness, go to bed, and start all over again the next day.
One day I realized that most things I normally enjoyed doing brought me no happiness. What really impacted me was that when I would play with my dog, I started catching myself laughing, as I often do when I play with him because he’s a huge goof, but each time, I’d suddenly become extremely aware of the fact that my laugh was simply a reflex and I didn’t actually feel it. As soon as I would realize I was laughing, I stopped suddenly because it felt like it wasn’t real. I wasn’t intentionally trying to laugh and certainly not fake laugh! But my laugh didn’t feel like it was coming from me. This happened frequently and that’s when I knew something was really off.
When it came to that late night a year ago, I kept trying to think of ways to end my life that would require minimal effort, and low risk of failure, because I didn’t want to face having to explain to anyone the way I was feeling. Being so exhausted though, I couldn’t muster the will to get out of bed and eventually I just cried myself to sleep.
At some point I realized the severity of my depression and that it was enough to justify going myself to the hospital, but I was still frozen in my bed, with a tear soaked pillowcase. Since I couldn’t move, I decided that if I still felt this way in the morning, I would tell my parents and ask them to take me to the hospital. Problem is, when I give myself that extra time to think, I always talk myself out of it by convincing myself I’d be told I wasn’t really depressed and I’d be sent home. I was also still terrified at the thought of telling anyone I was feeling like this.
When I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t feeling quite as bad. I still felt horrible, but I didn’t actively want to die. I spent most of the day in bed, which is unusual for me since I usually try to not be in my bed during the day.
As a normal part of my morning routine, to help me wake up, I picked up my phone to check my email and social media. The first thing I saw immediately hit me really hard. In my Gmail inbox was a message from the clothing company, Wear Your Label, touching on World Suicide Prevention Day and explaining that one of the co-founders was resigning from the company due to a depression relapse and subsequent suicide attempt. Reading and watching the video about his story left me in tears.
Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
Today, our co-founder, Kyle, also chose to open up about his recent suicide attempt.
This summer has not been an easy one at Wear Your Label – from the outside looking in, we’ve built a successful company that has created national partnerships, achieved international press, and influenced thousands of people. But sometimes, even when everything around you is amazing, mental illness can still take over.
Kyle will be formally resigning from Wear Your Label this month in order to take time for his mental health, and focus on recovery. The film we’re sharing today is an important part of Kyle’s story.
We appreciate all your love & support today, and as we move forward.
Every forty-seconds, of every minute of every hour of every day. Someone attempts to end their life.
On August 5th, around 5:30AM I was that someone.
It’s hard to open up about your feelings, it’s hard to say “I’m done with living”.
I was lucky: someone was there for me. Many people are not as fortunate.
Hopefully this film will give the world some clarity in what many of us struggle with silently everyday. I understand that it can be hard to watch, it’s not meant to be triggering but informative, emotional, and healing.
If you feel suicidal thoughts, or depressive episodes, please reach out to someone or the numbers below.
For, now I am taking some time for me.
Inhale confidence, exhale doubt.
Under normal circumstances I would have been a little sad and definitely empathetic towards him, but because of the point I was at just the night before, my response was so much stronger.
I was still too scared to admit to anyone what I was going through so I still didn’t go to the hospital. I did end up booking another appointment to see my doctor, sooner than my already scheduled follow-up, later that following week, so I didn’t do nothing, but still didn’t go to the hospital.
It took several months and 3 changes of medication to pull me out of that deep dark pit I was in, but it didn’t get me back to the point I was at with my previous medication combination. I came close at one point, because it was during this time when we decided to try ADHD medication, which helped with my mood, until we switched to an extended release ADHD medication and then it seemed to stop having an impact on my mood. After trying a third ADHD medication, I developed a persistent headache, which we still have not figured out. I had all sorts of tests and we even tried stopping each of my meds one at a time thinking they might be causing the headache but all that happened was my anxiety came back. The headache didn’t go anywhere. We tried going back on the one antidepressant that I’d been taking as a add-on and it only helped with certain anxiety symptoms. Since I’d never been on that one on it’s own, we decided to try a higher dose. It didn’t make it any more effective, it just made me feel sick, so I went back down to my original dose. After a few weeks of crying almost constantly for no reason, we decided I still needed an SSRI or SNRI so I went onto my 7th antidepressant (still pairing it with my 3rd). That one didn’t work out so well either. In addition to it simply not helping, it actually made me not want to take it and I started frequently skipping doses of both meds, which I’d never done before. I’ve now actually been off all my antidepressants for a two weeks. The weird thing is, I don’t feel any different. I think it was just that bad, even with the meds, that coming off of them made no difference. I’m crying a little more often and my intrusive thoughts have come back along with my anxiety triggered IBS in the morning before work, but my mood feels the same. The suicidal thoughts are the same.
A few months ago, I researched some my local hospitals so I’d know the best place to go if I ever felt actively suicidal again. The key is to convince myself to actually tell someone when I feel like this, otherwise I will never go.
I did come close to that point again in July. It was a Monday, but this feeling of complete hopelessness began on the Saturday before, and continued to increase over the Sunday. I was at work when I decided I would go to the hospital at the end of the day, but when I got in my car, I chickened out and drove home crying. That night, all I could think about was how much I didn’t see the point in life. I was never going to accomplish anything, and I’m going to die eventually anyway, so what’s the point of living now? There’s absolutely nothing I can possibly see happening in my life that would ever make my life worth living. It was different from September, because then I just felt like I was never going to feel happy, or at least not depressed, ever again. This time it wasn’t so much about how I felt in that moment, but more about life in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it felt different.
Weirdly, the feeling was completely gone the next day. I wasn’t happy. I was more numb. But the suicidal thoughts were completely, 100% gone. It was such a drastic change that it was actually freaking me out to the point where I couldn’t even take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t suicidal.
The feeling slowly started to return later on the Tuesday and through Wednesday and Thursday. After work on Thursday, July 20th, I turned on the TV and heard that Chester Bennington had died by suicide. It took a minute for me to process the fact that the lead singer of one of my favourite bands had died by suicide only days after I was feeling extremely suicidal. I burst into tears and cried on and off for a good half hour. The next day at work, I could not focus at all. (I found out the following Monday that I was not the only one at my job strongly effected by this.) I spent a lot of time crying that weekend too. It took weeks for me to even get sort of used to the fact that there won’t be any new songs with Chester’s incredible voice on them.
I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since all this started. This past year has been incredibly difficult and it’s still not getting better. I did finally convince my doctor to send me to a different psychiatrist. He also followed up with a referral he’d sent for me to a hospital with a good day program and research program where they will hopefully figure out the right treatment for me. He’d sent that referral back in October, when the wait time was supposedly 5 months. Turns out they received the referral, but then didn’t do anything. I finally got a phone call this past Wednesday to schedule an appointment for my “pre-assessment” in two weeks, which is funny because it’s sooner than the appointment I got with the psychiatrist. But in the next month, I’ve got two separate appointments to hopefully figure out what to do to get me out of this rut I seem to be stuck in, which has actually made me feel better because I was starting to feel like no one thought I was truly depressed. I’ve been feeling completely invalidated lately. I could ramble on more about that but this post has already gotten a lot longer than I wanted, so I’m going to end it here, since I really wanted to post it today.