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Suicide Prevention

How I Survived and Learned to Cope with Anxiety & Depression

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An Asian man shares his story on how he copes with depression and anxiety

“I dream that one day we will live in a world where mental illness such as depression and anxiety will no longer be taboo.”

‘A period of adolescence’ is what my psychologist told me, but I knew it was more than that. I was only in 9th grade when I felt a strange void in my heart.

On the outside, peers saw me as a positive and outgoing individual who did it all. I did well academically, played varsity football, ran varsity track, danced, played instruments and sang in vocal ensembles.

I had many friends, near and distant, loving family members as well as supportive mentors. Life seemed beautiful outwardly, but internally I was ceasing to exist in my own happiness.

How could I have fallen so deep into this abyss that was seemingly never-ending? From days to weeks to months of crying, apathetically lying in bed, barcoding my wrists, I couldn’t deal with it anymore. ‘Dear mom, dad and brother: I’m done.’

Everyone told me I’d get better. Everyone told me this was normal to go through. It’s been 6 months and I’m still feeling like I don’t belong in this world…” Maybe it was best for me to not write a goodbye letter.

I can’t imagine how my family would have felt if they were to have found the letter before I came back from my attempt at jumping off the bridge.

Suicidal ideations were raging through my head. I thought the world wouldn’t care if I were to end my life. This would have been the quickest way to end my misery.

Ten years later to this day, I’m still alive and I could not be any more grateful. That daunting day, something in my heart and mind clicked for me to convince myself to live on.

Was it my faith in Christianity? Was it my sudden burst of forced optimism? Was it because my competitive prideful nature told me not to lose this game against my mental illness?

To this day, I still don’t know what turned me around, but whatever it was, I could not be happier to be alive. If there was one thing I succeeded in doing, however, was reaching out to friends and family for comfort and help.

At the age of 14, I had no idea that this feeling of perpetual melancholy was depression. Yet, I seeked help even when I didn’t know for what and even when I didn’t want to. This ultimately helped me in the long run as I still battle with depression and anxiety today.

My depression comes sporadically, but when it does come I tell myself that I don’t identify myself as a depressed human being. I realized that during depression, many people including myself desire happiness, but we also subconsciously enjoy the self-pity and attention from others.

Rather than sinking deeper into our state of self-pity, let’s force ourselves to be optimistic. During my times of anxiety, I will sit on my bed with my legs crossed and meditate in silence for 5-10 minutes focusing on nothing, but my own breathing.

I constantly remind myself that I have much more to live for and that no matter how tough the situation gets, it will always get better as long as I am being active in trying to better myself.

Self-sufficiency in moderation is good for you, but do remember that there is nothing wrong with seeking out help from friends, family and even strangers.

You are loved and you matter in this world. Don’t let depression define who you are as a person. Don’t let depression beat you. You are more than capable of beating it.

When you beat it once, you’ll come to realize how much easier it becomes in beating it again. I dream that one day we will live in a world where mental illness such as depression and anxiety will no longer be taboo.

One day, we will all live to support each other in times of difficulty and adversity. Let’s live life beautifully with a grateful heart and mind.

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Suicide Prevention

How Reaching Out to Others Helped me Overcome Suicide

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Reach out to others and try to get involved more. Getting involved is a way to take your mind off things and find new friends who can be a safe zone for you.
Lorain, Ohio

When I was younger, my mom thought it’d be a good idea to move from Cleveland to Lorain to give her children a better life. This meant leaving behind our father since he didn’t want to move with us.

I started feeling lost and confused, questioning why my father didn’t care about his family enough to start a better life with us.

Moving to Lorain meant I had to make new friends. It wasn’t hard for me, but I didn’t know if I was up to it. Not long after moving to Lorain my mom found a new boyfriend, and eventually got engaged.

Shortly after their engagement, my mom’s fiance died which caused her to go on a downward spiral and start drinking. At this moment, I realized I had not only lost my dad but now my mom too.

On my 13th birthday, I came home excited to see what my mom had planned for me, but she never showed up. My sister ended up getting a cake and singing happy birthday to me.

I still remember a tear dripping down my face as it was time to blow out my candle. Later in the week, my mom ended up coming to talk to me. Throughout the whole conversation, she made me feel like I couldn’t be loved by any man.

My mom took the last glimpse of happiness away from me at that very moment.

After hearing the person I loved most tear me down, I reached the lowest point of my life. I felt like there was nothing left living for. I grabbed a rope from the garage and headed into my closet.

As I was getting ready to end my life, my sister ran in the closet after hearing some shoe boxes fall and grabbed me before I could follow through. Watching the pain in her eyes as she held me reassured me I never wanted to make anyone feel as low as I once did.

Now, I attend Kent State University where I am pursuing a degree in child Phycology. Although I often get depressed, I always remind myself that life will get better. Some advice I would give to someone going through a similar situation that I did, is to reach out to others and try to get involved more.

Getting involved is a way to take your mind off things and find new friends who can be a safe zone for you. Never forget that your life is more valuable than you think.

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Suicide Prevention

How Finding Happiness Helped me Overcome Suicidal Thoughts

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This young blonde man tries to find happiness to try to cope with his suicidal thoughts and depression.
Columbus, Ohio

I don’t necessarily think there’s a trigger to make you happy. Happiness is something within you that you have to find for yourself.

As a kid, depression was always something that I overlooked because I didn’t think it was a real thing. I had always heard my mom talking about how she was depressed, but I thought it was a feeling that you had control over and could change whenever you wanted to.

My mindset quickly changed in 5th grade when I started to have suicidal thoughts.

During 5th grade, my parents got divorced and my mom became a huge alcoholic. My whole life rapidly changed including where I lived, where I went to school, and even the friends I hung around.

I started to ask myself, ‘Is it me, am I the reason they got a divorce?’ Once my mom found a new boyfriend and they broke up, she ended up blaming the breakup on me and told me if it weren’t for me, they would still be together.

From that point on my depression followed me wherever I went. In high school, my depression reached a new height when my dad put me on a special gluten and wheat free diet.

He believed that gluten and wheat might have been the reason my turret was acting up so much. He ended up buying all sorts of special wheat and gluten-free food that tasted horrible which caused me to starve myself.

I walked around most days starving, depressed, and feeling alone.

One night, I was playing video games at my mom’s house, when she came into my room raging drunk, screaming at me about how I was ungrateful and cared more about my father than I did for her. After she got done screaming, she made her way over to the stairs and fell down them accidentally.

It was at that moment I realized I didn’t want to end up the same as my mother, depressed and using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Depression isn’t something that goes away overnight, but with the proper care and attention, I have learned to manage it. I’ve also learned that no matter what someone else does or tells you, you need to want change for yourself in order to have change occur in your life.

This is a motto I find myself revisiting quite often to remind myself that I am worthy of living. I deserve a chance at life, just like everyone else.

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Suicide Prevention

How Working in Long-Term Care Affected My Mental Health

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I have Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The roots of my mental health story started in childhood, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Looking back on those years now, I can clearly see that mental illness has been my companion for a very long time.

I was a very behavioral child, aggressive towards objects and just anger all the time, constantly in trouble at school.

There has always been this heaviness, unidentified in those days but now I realize that the anger was merely a manifestation of an underlying issue, I now know it as depression.

I didn’t catch on to my anxiety disorder until I was in my teens. Still unaware that how I felt came with labels, that didn’t stop both disorders impacting me in the form of social withdrawal and continues to do so to this very day.

I am social to a degree but being social comes at a cost. It exhausts me mentally if I am exposed to the outside world for too long.

It is an illness after all and almost illnesses come with the side effect of being wiped out in short order.

As an adult, I spent 15 years in the volunteer fire service and I also worked 20 years in long term care.

I work with aggressive individuals, with mental illness and who have a variety of medical/psychiatric illness.

Autism, cognitive delays etc. Both expose me to constant violence, death, noise and overall chaos This constant exposure for years and years wreaked havoc on my mental health, causing me to take leave from work several times.

As I struggled with my own mental disorders, my work environment became overwhelming and over stimulating. Now, I am off because of my mental injury. I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD and as a result, I am now off on workers compensation.

I think what has triggered my suicidal battle has simply been the length of time I have suffered from the pain of mental illness. My dance with suicidal ideation is a passive one, I have never actually attempted suicide.

My illnesses are such that I often experience neuropathy like pain that only increases the frequency of these thoughts in my head. Sometimes, I just feel so sad that it seems to trigger these thoughts be a default.

I guess I understood the magnitude of the situation I am in. Having an educational background in counseling helps too. It helped me see that it is a very real phenomenon in our society and to take it seriously.

This knowledge allowed me to acknowledge that I needed help. I have always made family the epicenter of my life which has been a saving grace.

Also, the positive result of the tragedies I have witnessed in both the fire service and my occupation taught me the appreciate the frailty of life.

I was constantly exposed to those left behind and I don’t want that for all the people I care about. I don’t want them to experience that kind of pain.

My family has a stake in my life and thus in my health overall, I fight on because it’s not only my life, a piece of me belongs to them too. Therefore, I understand that I must soldier on and do whatever it takes to win the war.

I think it’s best to seek out help from anyone whom they have a strong rapport with from a teacher to a best friend.

Build a social network of people who are in the same situation, reach out to them and ask them how they found help. In other words, they have to be their own warrior.

I haven’t overcome my mental illness to be honest, I am in a moment by moment battle to manage it.

My coping tools are; a good diet, lots of exercise and forced connection with friends and family.

I say forced because I choose to put my energy into them rather than my disorders. When my depression tells me to stay home, I defy it and I force myself to connect.

That being said, I have learned my limits and I pay attention to them. I refuse to apologize when I am not able to partake in activities. My journey continues, moment by moment.

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