I am breaking Peanut Butter Kait’s blog silence to address several high-profile celebrity deaths that occurred this week, including Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Although I do not consider myself a notable fan of either person, I want to use my blog to draw attention to the importance of mental health and getting help when there is a need.
If you are struggling, you don’t have to do it alone. In Alberta, call Canadian Mental Health Association, Suicide Services: 1-403-297-1744. In the US, call 1-800-273-8255.
Since I was a young girl, even slightly before puberty, I remember feeling emotions very intensely. I also had thoughts of suicide and self-harm then too. I’ve talked before on my blog about my depression.
When I was in high school, around age 13, or 14, or 15, the waves of depression started crashing on me with unbearable strength. Fortunately my parents were very proactive and took me to see my family doctor, and I started seeing a therapist as well.
I clearly remember going to the doctor and telling him about all the sadness and overwhelming feelings I had been experiencing, and he prescribed an antidepressant. At the time, I was also cutting. I had appointments as often as I needed them with my therapist. Reflecting back on this time in my life, I feel an emotion too big for words for how much stress this must have caused my parents.
Depression is a really hard enormous THING to express. I’ve described it to family and friends as swimming in a fast-moving river where I can barely keep my head above water to breath. Physically it feels like my stomach is full of cold rocks and I can’t get enough oxygen. I can be very smiley on the outside, even when I feel terrible on the inside, so depression isn’t always obvious. One of my favorite blogs, Cup of Jo, posted a really solid article about depression and suicide yesterday. Here’s the link for a read: https://cupofjo.com/2018/06/suicide-isnt-selfish/.
When I was 15, in the winter, the sadness was getting worse. Despite being on an antidepressant, getting therapy, and having loving friends and family, I was struggling. A few nights my mom slept with me to keep me safe. When I was feeling suicidal, she took me to emergency to try and get me help. They couldn’t admit me because they didn’t have beds so she had to take me home.
On February 27th, 2005, I did my usual bedtime routine and hugged my parents goodnight. I am sure this blog post is already upsetting to some of my family members and friends who read Peanut Butter Kait, so I won’t go into the specifics, but I wrote a note before bed to my parents and climbed into bed, preparing to not wake up the next day.
I’m so thankful my attempt was not successful. I woke up the next day – quite surprised, maybe a little disappointed, and very drugged – and quietly did my usual morning routine and caught the bus to school. I didn’t tell my parents. But fortunately when I got to school and confided in a friend, she encouraged me to talk to an adult and I opened up to my favorite teacher. The rest of the day was a blur of lying on the sick room bed holding my best friend’s hand, then going to emergency and getting admitted to the hospital. I ended up staying there for almost a week.
My doctor took me off the antidepressant after that. He thought we could try something different: he encouraged me to get out for a run – 3 times a week for 30 minutes – and report back. That advice has been my life preserver for the past 13 years. (I also highly recommend counselling!)
My whole life I’ve basically chalked my depression up to hormones and genetics. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. The important thing is to be open about what you are experiencing and ask for support when you need it. Depression comes and goes for me. As I write this blog post today, I deeply empathize with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, but I’m not personally feeling down at the moment.
Another piece of my depression puzzle has come to light this spring. I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a genetic condition that apparently ~10% of women suffer from. It manifests itself in different ways, but for me, means that I have polycystic ovaries, hormonal imbalances, depression, and acne. Although I understand PCOS to be a fairly common issue, I am still heartbroken to know that although it is not impossible to get pregnant with PCOS, it is certainly challenging.
What I want you to know is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE LOVED. If you are suffering from depression, please reach out to me, a family member or friend, a therapist, or call one of the phone numbers listed at the top of my post.