Submitted by Paula on 12/21/2016

Warning: this is not “light” reading.

For many years of Facebook sharing I have wanted to share my struggles of depression and suicide. However, the shame, stigma, and a variety reasons that seem insignificant today stopped me from pushing the post button. Unfortunately/fortunately today I talked with a family that had a loved one commit suicide. They had written an incredibly brave obituary for this young man, and our conversation led me to share a bit more than is comfortable, but that is okay if it helps one person. Depression can take many forms, and for some creeps up slowly, others it hits like a tidal wave of darkness.

For me, I learned early in my life to just go “quiet” when I felt “low”, and I stayed in my barn a lot. It was my happy place. Fast forward to a variety of major life changes, including marriage to the wrong person, the deaths of my grandmother and mother, and feeling like I was the worst parent ever. The tidal wave of darkness hit me; all I wanted was the pain to end. I truly thought my family and world would be better off without me, so I tried really hard to end my life. Frank came home several hours earlier than I expected, and it was not my time to die in 2003. Looking in my son’s eyes, to see the pain I caused him, the fear of everyone close by me, and the incredible shame I felt, I couldn’t stay in Louisville. What would people say if they saw my scars? I was referred to an amazing place in California, where after five months I felt like I could handle the darkness that is depression with help and tools, and came back home.

For me, I need medication to keep my chemicals in check, so that the tidal wave of darkness doesn’t overtake me ever again. I volunteered on the crisis and suicide line for 18 months, and when someone says to me that I don’t know what it feels like to want to end your life, I can honestly answer “yes”, I do know and understand. For anyone whose life has been touched by suicide, I want you to know that there isn’t anything that you could have said or done to change things. It isn’t your fault, and yes, I speak from experience. I am incredibly grateful for my life, and all that I can do to help others.