Depression and suicide aren’t all that new to me after all. Today, I decided to share something very near and dear to my heart. I want to apologize in advance if this lifestyle blog post is kind of scattered. I will try to make it as eloquent as possible but unfortunately, amidst this emotional turmoil, my writing talent has taken the brunt of it.
You may have noticed that I spend a significant amount of time and portion of my career addressing mental health such as anxiety and depression, anti-bullying and self-happiness. You may have also noticed that I have been fairly absent from my social media accounts lately. The reason for that is because…
My brother is suicidal.
Phew. Those four words are harder to write than you could ever imagine. Unless you knew me in high school, you probably had no idea that there was such a big black area within my family. I would say secret, but my brother’s depression has never been one. We, as a family, have never underestimated, hidden or felt ashamed of this disease my brother has been battling for as long as I can remember. This is actually one of the main reasons I decided to write this lifestyle blog post because suicide, depression or any form of mental illness should never be hidden and more importantly, should never make you feel ashamed. In fact, it’s those two things that can drive someone mad.
With my brother’s permission, which didn’t take much convincing, I decided to share his story to help other people suffering from suicidal thoughts know that they are not alone, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and to help the family members that are left wondering why.
To give you a bit of background, it was nearly 10 years ago that my brother’s depression initially came to light. Unbeknownst to any of us at the time, he fell into a very deep and dark hole that ultimately led him to attempt suicide.
With a scalpel and handful of pills, my brother signed his name at the end of his suicide note. It was by chance that we found him when we did, and were able to rush him to the hospital, where he would remain for several days to come.
10 years later, and the darkness remains. Now, before anyone thinks, “Wow! 10 years and he still is feeling the same way? I don’t want to go through that,” you must read this entire lifestyle blog post first. Depression is not just an emotion for some people. It’s a disease; one that must be treated, and despite how hard you try, you can’t do it on your own. Eventually, you will need to come to terms with the fact that you need to ask for help. This is hard for many people, and what essentially kept my brother suffering for the past 10 years. Like many others, it took him a long time to come to terms with his depression. He’s not the type of person to want, ask or need help, and even if you offered, he would decline. He hides his depression well, just like many people do.
A terminally ill cancer patient will continue to live as if they aren’t dying, just like a depressed person will, who will also keep their fatal secret inside for as long as they can. Different disease, but a disease nonetheless.
It was only a year or two ago that my brother agreed to try medication. Oh, the negative connotation attached to medication and mental health; the negative connotation that actually keeps people suffering for much longer than they have to. Getting someone to agree to try meds for a mental illness is a task in itself.
So, my brother started therapy, changed his lifestyle and started taking medication. Great, right? Well, anyone who has any experience with these kinds of meds understands that it is a trial and error process. Just because one medication works for 90% of people doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. My family had to keep this thought prominent in my brother’s mind in order to encourage him to keep going; to remind him that even if these meds aren’t for him, something will work.
All seemed fine until approximately two weeks ago. I left my house (where I live with my brother) just 5 minutes prior to the phone ringing. It was my brother in complete hysterics, apologizing for not being able to go on anymore. The medication he was on was not working, and he was done. He was exhausted. He simply didn’t want to suffer any longer.
See, that’s the thing with mental illness. Every day can feel like the hardest job you’ve ever had. Just waking up can be the most tedious task of the day.
I jumped in the closest car to me, and sped off to my house as my mother begged him to “just hold on.” When I got to my house, my brother was collapsed on the ground crying uncontrollably. It’s the most heartbreaking thing to see a grown man with so much success and so much to offer buckle under the effects of this illness. We were able to get to him in time, and get him back to the hospital so his treatment and medication could be reassessed.
Now, let’s go back for just a moment. There is one huge factor that everyone needs to pay attention to.
Those are five words that very rarely come out of the mouths of anyone dealing with someone that suffers from depression. Remember, this is a disease that basically makes you want to suffer in silence. For my brother to pick up that phone to call us, in the midst of contemplating a suicide plan is probably one of the most difficult things he has ever had to do. It would be for anyone suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts.
But he did.
He did reach out for help.
Was it hard? Absolutely. Did he want to reach out for help? Probably not, because when you’re suffering from depression, you don’t think that there is any viable option out there that will make you feel good or normal again. But that’s the point of this story.
You have to reach out and ask for help if you want to get better, and feeling better is definitely plausible. It will be hard, but the reward will be so worth it once you find the medication and therapy you need to treat this disease. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen! There will be times when you want to collapse, and there will likely be medications that don’t work for you. But don’t give up. There is treatment for depression, and you can feel complete again. You can find the answers you need to feel better, as long as you don’t ignore what is happening within your body.
You don’t have to live with depression any longer. You just have to take the first step and reach out.
If anyone is struggling with depression, I strongly recommend speaking with someone you trust, and more importantly, someone that understands how serious this illness is. Contact Suicide Prevention, or at the very least, you can always send me a message as well.