She ran away in the middle of the night took nothing but a bank card and her license. She left no clues beside a note, a note indicating that we should be concerned for her safety. We searched everywhere we could think of. The police were notified as were our family friends. They found her the next day more than two hours away from home. She had written a goodbye letter apologising to her kids and set in motion her plan to end her life.
She laughs, smiles and jokes but nobody knows how much she is suffering. After speaking to her when they brought her home, it is painfully obvious how much she needs help. Sadly I, along with many others didn’t notice the warning signs earlier. We talk all night and she begins to tell me of the several factors that pushed her over the edge that night. She felt the weight of her problems wearing her down.
Depression is deceitful and this is something she learned that night. Depression makes her believe that she is alone despite all the people who love her and there are many people who love her. She knows I have my own struggles with mental health and asks me if I ever feel like I have no friends. I explain to her the process of challenging irrational thoughts but unfortunately teaching her to battle her own depression is an enormous task especially when she didn’t want to accept she was sick until she had to have a psychiatric evaluation. She described her frame of mind before she ran away, she mentioned she was lonely. She called a relative and her best friend but they could not answer. Depression makes her take this to heart.
Depression makes her believe her children no longer want or need her. Her identity has always been that of a mother and a wife and now that her children are leaving the nest and starting their own lives she is struggling to keep it together. She understands now after speaking to a psychologist that kids grow up and move out. The earlier part of your life is spent raising your children and the next part of your life should be focused on yourself. Depression makes her think she doesn’t matter to her children anymore. That couldn’t be further from the truth. She is our matriarch, the center of our family. We all try to protect her and shield her from anything hurtful because we know how frail her emotions can be. Her heart breaks for the family she thinks is falling apart. A perfect family is what she is chasing, what she didn’t have as a child. No family is perfect and sometimes we need time to work through our issues. Sometimes families function better with some separation and we need to accept this in order to move forward. Family is everything to her and her children are her life.
We continue to talk. She tells me that she didn’t take her medication consistently before her breakdown. She is new to all this, she needs someone to guide her through the darkness. We talk about the importance of taking her medication in the correct dose and the same time every night. I tell her about the 4 lithium and 3 seroquel tablets I take every day. She tells me that she didn’t want to accept that she was sick, she thought that she could ignore it and keep going. I remind her there is no shame in having a mental illness, there is no shame in getting help.
I tell her about my past issues with self harm. I tell her about my tattoos that cover my scars and stop me from adding new ones. This is something I don’t share unless absolutely necessary but she needs to hear that someone understands what she is going through. I explain to her that the best thing she could have done was wait to kill herself. She decided to wait and the feeling left her. I tell her that I do the same thing. If I have the urge to cut myself I wait until the feeling passes. The feeling always passes.
Helping someone with depression is extremely difficult. It doesn’t make it easier if you suffer from mental illness yourself. Unfortunately it never gets easier but her family and her friends love her incredibly. I hope the fact that everybody was so concerned for her safety will make her see how important she is.