TRIGGER WARNING - SUICIDE, DEPRESSION
If you didn’t know, September is world Suicide Prevention Month. And since this topic is pretty personal to me, I have to write a blog post about it. Suicide is a very important topic to talk about and I want to give you some information about it, as well as personal experiences.
Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
Now, you might have heard comments in your life that go like this, “depression is fake”, “people are faking it to get attention”, “depression is not real” and let me tell you, it annoys the fuck out of me. Let me ask people who have said that, why is there medication for something that is fake? How can there be literal evidence that depression shrinks the brain, if it would be fake? Because it isn’t fake! Get that into your head, please? And thank you. Ok, let’s continue.
There’s growing evidence that several parts of the brain shrink in people with depression. Specifically, these areas lose Gray Matter Volume (GMV). That’s tissue with a lot of brain cells. GMV loss seems to be higher in people who have regular or ongoing depression with serious symptoms. Studies show depression can lower GMV in areas “Hippocampus.” That part of your brain is important for learning and memory. It connects to other parts of your brain that control emotion and is responsive to stress hormones. Depression can also lower GMV in Prefrontal cortex. This area plays a role in your higher-level thinking and planning. There’s also evidence these parts of your brain get smaller:
Results are mixed on how depression affects the amygdala. That’s your fear center. Some studies show it gets smaller. Others found that depression and stress might boost its GMV. The more severe the depression, the higher the GMV.
When these areas don’t work the right way, you might have:
Trouble thinking clearly
Guilt or hopelessness
Sleep or appetite problems
I’ve taken this information from online.
I own books about depression because it's an interesting and important topic, and personal, because I personally have suffered from depression. I would say that “Good Reasons for Bad Feelings” written by Randolph M. Nesse is a very interesting book so far (have yet to finish it). It’s described, “Nesse’s insightful book suggests that conditions such as anxiety and depression have a clear evolutionary purpose… This intriguing book turns some age-old questions about the human condition upside down.” I recommend this book if you're interested in reading about mental illnesses.
Anyway, let’s continue with my personal experiences. I will not go into too many details, since it can be very triggering and I want to keep some stuff private. So, I have suffered from depression since I was about thirteen-fourteen years old. I started medication at the age of fourteen. Later I got diagnosed with a panic disorder. It got worse when I was fifteen. In summer of 2017, I attempted suicide by overdose on my medicine and ended up first in the hospital, where I woke up with no memory of what had happened. Then when I was somewhat ok (physically) I ended up in a mental ward. I stayed there for about one-two months. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be going back home. I moved to a group home, without wanting to, since I was underage and really didn’t have a “voice”. I lived in the group home from age 15-18 (three of my birthdays). It was a nice place, most of the time. I mean it didn’t look like a mental ward or anything like that. It was a home with a little more bedrooms (because I ended up living with 6 other kids/teens whom I will not talk about.) At first, it was scary, being mentally ill and leaving home. And I did relapse a lot. But eventually, I settled. The workers were really nice. Over the years, being with the same workers and mostly the same kids I lived with, I got to call it home. I still miss the workers sometimes and sometimes we speak on the phone. They taught me a lot and even though we disagreed on some stuff, like what was best for me and what was not, looking back I can understand their point of view. They tried to help me, and they did.
(I also want to put a disclaimer here, my family is very supportive and loving and they did nothing wrong. I moved to the group home because I was in danger for myself, not because of anyone else. My home was safe and loving, but I needed professional help, that’s why I moved. I love my family and they love me.)
After turning 18 I moved into my first own apartment, a kind of support home where I had my own apartment and everything, but I had this support person to call whenever I needed and wanted, and they were still in charge of all my medicines. In 2020, I attempted suicide twice. I took all my medicines I had to myself and I wanted to overdose. But here is the thing, I called for help. I called my support person and she came within minutes. Then she called the ambulance and so on. BUT, I called. Because I still wanted to LIVE. It was a scream for help, what I did. I ended up in the hospital, but came back home to my apartment when the doctor said I could leave. I didn’t go to the mental ward ever again, because I was 18 and had a voice.
After all those experiences, I have healed almost completely. I have had one panic attack not so long ago, but before that I hadn’t had a panic attack in months. I have seen and felt progress and I’m on a really good path.
I remember, how many times people have asked “do you regret it?” and honestly, sometimes I didn't regret it, but most of the time, I did. Especially looking back now, a year and a half later, of course I regret it. I hate what I have done to myself. Well, “hate” is a very strong word, but I mean that I am sad for what I’ve done to myself. I’ve grown to accept my past. I accept what people did to me that was for my best. I accept every single scar I have on my body that I caused myself. I accept every part in me that wanted to die, and I’m grateful for the parts in me that had hope and survived. I’m a survivor. I am alive and guess what? I AM HAPPY! I love my life, more and more everyday. I live with my boyfriend and we have soon been together for one year. My family are all healthy, I have made new friends. I start school again in October. I am living my life, and loving every step of it. Like my tattoo says, “turn the page;” and I have. I have turned pages, written new pages and am going into a new chapter in life.
I had hope, in my suicide attempts, I had hope, laying in the hospital. I had hope, being in my mothers arms when I got to see her after my attempts. I had hope when I finally moved to my own first apartment, that moment when dad picked me up at the group home on the morning of my 18th birthday, the day I moved. I had hope, when I thought I hadn’t. I had hope. And look where I am now.
Life is hard, for everyone at some point. Some of us suffer from mental illnesses, some of us want to die. You are not alone. There are people out there, who feel like you do, people who want to help you , people who WILL help you, if you let them. There is hope, always. Even when you don’t see it. I have been at the lowest point a person can be, and I survived.