Last week my sister’s neighbor committed suicide. He was the father of four children, the oldest being 11, the youngest being 3, and his wife found him in their bedroom where he had hanged himself.
I am telling you this because when my sister told me about it yesterday I almost hit the floor. That could have been me. It could have been Leta who was left without a parent, Jon without a partner. During the worst months of my postpartum depression I thought about suicide every day. I thought about how I would do it, perhaps hang myself with the dog’s leash, or maybe grab every pill we have in the cabinet and drown them with a couple shots of tequila. I wanted to do something, anything to stop the pain.
A couple days ago I was on the phone with Beth and I told her that I was coming down with a cold, perhaps what Jon is suffering from right now. She said she was sorry and hoped that I felt better, and without even thinking about it I said, “THIS? This is NOTHING. I can handle a cold. I’ve been suicidal before. Talk about pain.”
Too much is misunderstood about depression, and too many people do not take it seriously. That’s why I have been so open about what I have suffered, to try and put a face to it for those of you who don’t understand it. It’s a physically painful disease, one that can ruin lives, one that can kill. I almost died from it.
Right now we are wrangling our insurance company to get them to pay for all the psychiatric treatment I have received since having the baby. They have paid for NOTHING, including my hospital stay. This makes no sense considering that we are on one of the best insurance plans offered in this country, and we’ve had no problem having OTHER medical concerns covered. Why is mental health any less important than the health of the heart? Or the liver? Or the goddamned pinky toe?
This morning we had Leta on the bed playing between us, and Jon and I talked about my sister’s neighbor. We talked about what a different person I am today because I got the help I needed, and about how I can be the mother and partner my family deserves. I AM SO THANKFUL TO BE ALIVE.
If you are depressed, please know that you are not alone. Please get help. If you know someone who is depressed, please understand that they are in pain, and please help them get help. Most importantly, listen to music a little louder, dance a little crazier, sing out loud in the shower, honk your horn for no reason, give your dog an extra treat, call your mother and tell her you love her, hug your friends even if they aren’t the touchy-feely type, eat french fries once even though your diet tells you not to, walk around your house naked, and hold tight to your motherfucking family.