‘Today’s the day.’ I was so depressed, so consumed with sadness and rage, and felt like a burden to everyone.’: Mom overcomes depression, suicide attempt

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Disclaimer: This story includes mentions of suicide attempts that may be triggering for some.

“If I was to be asked if there was ever a specific day that changed my life, I would say February 27, 2010. I was a 25-year-old who had struggled with depression most of my adult life but never realized I was depressed. You see, on the outside, I appeared happy to those around me most of the time, smiling, laughing, and joking. However most nights I would go home to my studio apartment sit in the darkness, listening to music staring at the four walls around me. Looking back at my life, I realize I struggled with ‘seasonal depression’ in the beginning. I would find myself withdrawing from those around me, making excuses why I couldn’t stay long for holidays or gatherings.

selfie of a depressed woman
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

When it came to my work life, I woke up every day and put a fake smile on to push through the day. No one around me knew the demons I was fighting daily within myself because, when it comes to my work, I have a passion for it. February 26, 2010, was just another typical day of work. I did my job, got off at 5, and went to see the guy I was talking to at the time. He lived a county over, and that night, when I was driving home on the interstate, I had a blowout. In my mind, I just knew if I called him he would come help me, but he didn’t, and something about not having him to count on got the wheels moving in my head. I was so hurt, so disappointed in the person I cared for not even coming to my rescue. I got the tire changed, made it home safely, and went straight to bed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010, I recall waking up, and my first thought was ‘today’s the day.’ I was so depressed, so consumed with sadness and rage, and felt like a burden to everyone. I wasn’t sure what I really meant by ‘today’s the day’ I just knew it would be my last somehow, some way. I got showered, dressed, and went to visit my best friend and her baby at the time. I wanted to make sure they knew I loved them because today was that day. After spending a while with them, I went to my parents’. I spent some time with them, pretending to be fine, all while thinking, ‘You got to do this today at some point.’

Later that evening, I returned home. The four walls seemed to close in around me a little at a time. I sent messages to everyone I loved and told them I loved them. At the time, I had one friend, Lisa, who found it odd and attempted to call me, but I declined the calls. I put on Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You,’ and I opened my pill bottles. At that time, I had been prescribed pain pills due to back pain and Xanax due to anxiety, a very high dose of each. I was sobbing because I knew how selfish I was about to be, but I didn’t see a way out. I started eating the pills as if they were candy, handfuls at a time. I lay back on the bed. I can still feel this moment in my life as if it just happened. My body began to relax, my eyes began to become too heavy to keep open, and my tears stopped rolling down my cheeks.

Lisa, the one friend whose gut told her something was right and had tried to call, trusted her instincts, and I am forever grateful that she did. Lisa, at the time and for many years after this incident, was one of my dearest and closest friends. She knew something was off with me when I sent her the text message and wouldn’t answer her calls. I recall her telling me that she just felt it was off, and she got in her car and drove a county over to see what was wrong.

woman with her friend who saved her life
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

When she arrived at my apartment, my door was unlocked, and to this day, I don’t know how because I always kept my door locked:  living alone, it was something I ensured was done. When she walked in, she saw me lying lifeless on my bed, radio on, pill bottles beside me. Immediately, she called 911, she said she tried to get me to stand up, and I vaguely recall being weak as she pulled me up. Her next call was to my parents to let them know I was being taken to the ER for attempted suicide by overdose. I can’t imagine the hurt she felt calling my mom to tell her that her daughter had just attempted suicide. As a mother now, I can’t imagine the pain, the heartbreak, the sadness of hearing the news that your child who seemed so happy, so alive made a decision that the pain was too much.

I was rushed to the emergency room, where they began pumping my stomach full of charcoal; I was intubated because my breathing was so shallow. That night I am told my family came to my side not sure what was expected, full of anger and so many unanswered questions. As for my last vivid memory of that day, it will forever be how relaxed, how peaceful my body felt; however, for my family and friends, it would be how lifeless I was when they saw me.

I remember that Sunday waking up confused. How was I alive? I tried to pull my tubes and catheter out because I was so uncomfortable, but I couldn’t. My arms were in restraints because, at that point, I was labeled as suicidal. The doctor came in and asked, ‘Are you still suicidal?’ I quickly replied, ‘No!’ But let’s face it, he knew along with everyone including myself I was still very much suicidal. How could a person not still be suicidal? Less than 24 hours ago, I had attempted to kill myself with an overdose.

woman and friend taking a picture
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

I was able to be released that Monday with strict orders—I could go to the local Comp Care to start outpatient therapy, or I could be checked into one of two in-patient therapies in surrounding counties. I opted to start outpatient therapy at the local mental health center. When I was discharged from the hospital, I was scared to be alone. Everyone around me was scared for me to be alone. My friend Sadie invited me to come to stay with her for a while. I packed my apartment, moved most of my stuff back to my parents’, and stayed with her.

I was told by some I was selfish, I did it for attention, I didn’t care that I hurt my family. Those statements could never be farther from the truth. I knew I was selfish, but the pain, the thoughts the sadness consumed me. I didn’t do it for attention: I don’t like the attention. It wasn’t an act: I wanted it to end. I did care that my family would be hurt: I would never intentionally hurt someone I love, but in my mind, that pain would be short-lived. I kept telling myself, ‘In 5 or so years, they won’t think about how I ended it, they will just remember the good.’

I began seeing a therapist, and at first, I felt ashamed, but over time, I began to be able to heal that pain inside me. Looking back, my cries for help involved withdrawing from those around me, but I never realized I needed help. Over the years, I have seen therapists off and on, it takes a lot for me to open up to someone without feeling judged, even if they are a paid professional. I have managed to learn how to live with my mental illness with different outlets.

woman taking a selfie smiling
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

When I feel life is becoming too much a simple drive to cry and let it out help, a call to one of my support friends or just writing down what is bothering me helps. My biggest support system over the years has been Sadie and then 8 years ago, my confidant Dawn came into my life. I truly feel she was a Godsend because depression never goes away—you learn to survive it, you learn to cope with it—and she is my rock on my darkest days.

12 years have passed since that day, and each day is different. There have been times I have allowed myself to be pulled into the darkness, and the feelings of ‘everyone would be better off without me’ consume my mind. At that point, I know I need someone to talk to, to let the thoughts be spoken instead of playing in my head and eating me alive. There have been times I will just be driving and think, ‘If I hit a tree, it could be played off as an accident.’ There is no one way you have to heal: for everyone it’s different and it moves at a different rate, and by no means is it easy.

12 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be where I am now. I have three healthy, happy, active, beautiful kids who I live each day for. My kids will never understand that they are my saving grace on my weakest days. I know I can’t let the depression control me. I am happy with myself for once. I have learned that everyone has a battle within themselves.

picture of three children
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

Mental illness is real and depression is real, but don’t ever be so afraid to ask for help that you only see the way out by ending your life. Don’t ever judge someone or call them selfish if they commit suicide because, in their mind, I promise you it’s not an easy decision, and they probably feel it is better for those around them.

Choose you: your story doesn’t have to end. Build a strong support system, reach out to someone. I may be a stranger to someone reading my story, but I promise I would listen to your story in a heartbeat if it meant you got another chance at life as I did.”

family photo in front of a christmas tree
Courtesy of Sheena Stidham

If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sheena Stidham. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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