The Thing You Never Knew

You’re not going to believe me when I tell you but last summer I wanted to die.

I didn’t have a plan or attempt it at any time but a small, unreasonable piece of me thought this world would be better off if I was gone.

The feelings I was having last year in the middle of my favorite season were crude and disruptive. They made it hard to sleep or smile. But I did, I smiled even as the voices inside my head told me how unworthy I was, what a horrible person I had turned out to be and there was no quieting them. I would cry into my pillow, I would sit on the couch and watch the world go by. I would dream of my funeral and wonder if anyone would miss me, if anyone would even bother to show up.

I was disheartened and depressed.

Not sad.

Sadness had come and gone and left a lousy house-guest sitting in the middle of my chest that said awful things to me, ruined my furniture and self esteem and made itself at home in the deep corners of my mind.

I was down in the mire and fought every day to claw my way to the top of the pile, to laugh with other people and hide the darkness that threatened to engulf me.

And some days were okay and livable and some days were not but like so many of us are sharing our feelings after the news of the suicide of Robin Williams,I was ashamed of my sadness.

After all I was everyone’s cheerleader and unconditional supporter and I felt like I had no right to be upset or sad, or even if I did, I needed to get over it and move on with my life. Our society has no room for rumination or regrets that swallow us whole.

So I played the part I have perfected, that of consoler, bridge builder and optimist,  never letting on how much I was hurting.

I had felt this way before, most recently during the four hellish years of our infertility. I learned to force smiles, bury pain and fake my way through the days. But once the boys were born and I narrowly escaped PPD I truly believed I had no right to have bad days.

I was lucky.

Even after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and complex migraines I knew I was lucky to have healthy, happy children and a diagnosis where my disease wasn’t debilitating.

So lucky. 

I had a husband who loved me, the sons I had prayed for and family/friends/ villages who reminded me often how much I meant to them. I was working in a time when so many other people had lost their jobs and I had a home, a car and a very cute dog.

Can you hear those voices?

“You have nothing to be unhappy about.”

So I sank deeper into the pit because now I was obviously ungrateful.

“Don’t you know how lucky you are?” 

I hated myself and I hated feeling so helpless in my quest to change my thinking.

The only person who heard this secret  was my husband last autumn and after the fact when I  believed I was past the worst of it and had changed my medication, somewhat settled my mind and put one foot on the path to self forgiveness.

And then Ben died.

Ben, who was bright and talented but who had his own demons; my baby brother who had battled against the bottle and the sweet sirens of drugs in his young life, Ben who had been spiraling, sad and we didn’t know.

So bad genetics and depression took him away from us and I waited, again, for it to find me.

But I also knew I needed to take care of my family who were reeling from his devastating death. I needed to keep watch over my mom who had now lost a child and my sister, my mind still haunted by her own failed attempt to leave this world decades ago.

We were lucky to be alive, lucky to be survivors. 

Once again I reminded myself there was no time or reason to be sad.

And yet I was, because even the sadness was genetic.

It started slowly, an anxious moment here or a mild panic attack there until I felt myself slipping backwards into the darkness.

It is an endless battle.

Day by day, I fight against the constant ache of my fibro; a slight headache always threatening to become fierce and the stress of everyday living, to be better.

I have bad moods and selfish moments  and crying jags that leave me breathless but (thank God) I haven’t thought about dying once.

I’m lucky 

Instead I try…

To see the good.

To know there is no easy way out.

To be a wife to John, a mommy to Giovanni and Jacob, a sister and a daughter, a friend, a flawed but happy human being.

I am taking my medication.

I practice gratefulness in every way I can.

I reach out when I need to, I say the words “I’m not okay” and I allow people to help me.

Because there is no coming back, there is no alternative or plan B if I don’t.

******

Pouring my Heart Out with my amazing friend Shell. 
Please don’t suffer in silence or believe you are alone.

You’re not.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

42 thoughts on “The Thing You Never Knew”

  1. I think it is so important for us to share our stories. You never know who may be reading who is going through the same thing. That one person that looks and says “if she can I can”. The one person who doesn’t even realize they are IN depression, but does know that something wrong and realizes they need to get help. Share, share, share. And you are so right. ASK FOR HELP. It is not a sign of weakness. It is the strongest thing you’ll ever do.

  2. Incredibly written, beautifully done, and so very brave of you. I don’t imagine there is one single person who hasn’t had a bout of depression in some form or another, teaching people to be understanding of those who struggle harder than others is a good step, and getting the word out to people that they aren’t alone is the best one. Great writing! Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I just wanted to tell you that I love you. That I’m holding you in my heart. This post must have been hard to write. And this line gutted me: “Because there is no coming back, there is no alternative or plan B if I don’t.”

  4. Kir, this is beautiful and painful and so true. Thank you for your bravery in writing this post. As someone who’s been there, I know this takes immense courage.

    My favorite part: “I reach out when I need to, I say the words “I’m not okay” and I allow people to help me.” This probably the bravest part of the entire piece.

    Love to you.

  5. Oh, Kir. Sweet, beautiful Kir. I love you so much for posting this. It is brave. And you are too. I’m so glad to know that YOU know there is help out there. I am always here for you if you need. And there are so many who love you. I hate that anyone has to feel that darkness and pain, EVER. Thinking of you always… xo

  6. So beautiful and honest. I relate with your bad genes and your struggle and the whole idea of “you should be happy.” Thank you for sharing your struggle so we can relate and feel less alone. It is an endless battle. Sending you love and strength and understanding.

  7. A brave, heroic piece of writing, Kirsten. We all have those places we feel we can never surmount. It’s good to put these things out there to show people they CAN go on. It IS possible.

  8. I love you, my friend. I thank you for sharing this, for braving through last summer, and please, talk to me whenever you like. You know I’m always here for you, day and night. xoxo

  9. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I’ve had very close and very young family members who also were smart enough to reach out for help when those thoughts hit. As hard as dealing with that was, the alternative would have been much, much worse!

  10. Oh, Kir. Thank you for your honesty. I think so many people go through what you did, and hide it because they’re known for their smile, for being everyone’s cheerleader. When the truth is, we feel what we feel, regardless of circumstances.

    I’m glad you got help, I’m glad John was there for you. I hope you know that I’m HERE if you ever need to talk about how things just SUCK sometimes. Love you. So much. xo

  11. There are no words. I know this. You are loved and you ARE WORTHY. The feeling unworthy of air to breathe is the worst. I’ve been there.I’m sorry you have too. My heart still breaks for you. XOXO

  12. Your honesty and forthrightness does not surprise me. I applaud you for being a beacon for others, to shine some light onto their darkness, so they can see that they are not alone. You are not alone, either. You are much loved and respected. You are in the hearts and thoughts of so many of us during every ordinary day; let alone, those moments of self-loathing and despair. 1-905-372-9932 is not the phone number of any suicide prevention hotline; it is, instead, my phone number. If it should ever be needed for any reason, suicide or otherwise, use it without reservation or doubt. A voice who cares will be at the other end of the line. YOU are not alone. <3

  13. I love you so very much for writing this and for being courageous enough to share it with all in blogland. There’s never anything to feel ashamed about, and yet, I think that when depression grabs hold, there are all these other monsters that move in with it. Irrational thoughts escalate and send us on a hellish roller coaster, but I am SO GRATEFUL that you fought, that you are still here, that you shared this heroic story with so many today. And I understand this, too, and for that reason I am overwhelmed with emotion that you are able to express what I myself have felt.

    XOXO

  14. Kir darling, One of the things you’ve said here, for me is the worst part of it. When we see that we are lucky, and tell ourselves to stop feeling sorry for ourselves because we have so much to be thankful for, and we do, but it isn’t working and that makes us feel guilty. Because life is not working out like we ache for it to. Years ago, in one of the lowest times in my life I came perilously close to that ultimate forever place. In fact, I don’t know why I am here. But I am. And I am getting better at asking for help. Better at believing that I do deserve a life that will allow me to be all I can be, and have what will make me whole. And having points of light like you in my life to cheer me on, hold me up….how can I fail? xoxoxo I love you.

  15. Oh, Kir, how heartbreaking and lovely and brutally honest. Your words shine, just as you do. We all struggle in some way, some publicly, some silent as a whisper. May the strength and beauty in your words carry you through tough times. You’re not alone, and you are loved.

  16. And so many are so lucky that brave people like you speak out! So many suffer in silence, or are so greatly misunderstood. Why can’t you just be happy? I actually heard someone say those words to another once. Made my blood boil. Thank you for sharing your truth and your pain with us.

  17. I know you aren’t asking people to worry – you’re sharing your story so others can feel a little freer to share theirs. But I’ll tell you something. I’ve been worried about you since before last summer. I’ve wished I could help you from afar. I hate that you have to fight depression. Your brother’s loss … my god. It hurts me beyond words for you. But. I’m proud of you, too. Not for bearing up, though God knows that takes courage, but for speaking the truth and taking care of yourself. Yes, you can bring light to your own life by offering joy to others, and you do. But you can balance that depression by keeping in touch with your doctor. And here’s the part that I think you’ve realized already. You can’t do it for your mother. You can’t do it for Jon or the twins or your sister or your friends. They matter. And if you need a fallback, they are all great reasons to keep taking care of yourself. But at its heart, the important thing you need to know is that you have to take care of yourself because you need you. The world IS a brighter place with you in it, Kir, and I’m glad you’re fighting your own demons.

  18. All too often I find myself thinking I don’t have the right to be (insert emotion here) because I am blessed or lucky to have (insert resource here). But I am slowly realizing, that my feelings are justified and true. Just as yours are my friend. Thank you for your candor and bravery Kir.

  19. Oh sweet love, my worrying mind smiles a little that you wrote this here today even tho it splinters my heart forming rough jagged edges of pain and sadness for all your hurt. You feel so deeply, you love with such passion, you care with such verve and those of us who are blessed to be a part of those hugs in your words … are held so tightly, with such caring because of your light, and soul.
    Everyday, hold on tight … hold on for the good stuff, for the amazing things yet to come and for balance you bring. I heart you, you have been a shining star through my unraveled life, and I am so thankful for you … Chin up, head up … onwards and upwards, step by step … we can cha cha together xxx

  20. Sweet, beautiful, honest, amazing, wonderful, precious, brave, Kir. Aside from adjectives that go on for days, I don’t have words. Thank you for writing this, for telling this part of your story here. Just thank you and I am grateful for you being here.

  21. Thank you for sharing your story, Kir. So much love to you, my friend.I have never suffered from depression, but I have had bouts of sadness and mild depressed feelings. When I feel that way, or even if I’m having a difficult time in my marriage or with my kids, I have a hard time reaching out to someone, not wanting to burden them with my problems, interrupt their busy day, or not even wanting to admit I have problems. It’s this that has made me realize how hard it must be for someone who truly suffers to reach out. xoxo

  22. This was powerful and emotional – it must’ve been so hard to hit ‘publish’ on such a personal piece of writing. I am glad you were able to share with your husband, even if it took some time.

  23. Oh wow. This is so powerful, Kir. I’m so sorry for your pain and the loss of your brother. You are so brave to share this. Thank you! I loved your common sense advice. So simple, yet so many don’t do it: “I reach out when I need to, I say the words ‘I’m not okay’ and I allow people to help me.” I’m sure that your words have encouraged so many to say the words, “I’m not okay”.

  24. I am so sorry Kir, that you were going through this and I was oblivious to it. It’s good that you have a close support system you can reach out to. Always know that I’m here too, if you ever need to talk.

  25. Huge hug! I could see you were not okay last august. But what to say during that drive by get together, with other people in the room, and we’ve been out of touch? Let’s get together with the kids. Let them run around while we hang. Central Park? Or maybe sandy hook? Love you!

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