Thursday, July 19, 2012

heart ache of depression and suicide

I have struggled all of my life with depression. This week, through some events in a good friend's life, I was struck with a nagging fear for any child I have who might be born with a similar genetic make up as myself. The thought entered my mind while drivng down a sunny street "what if my child has the same mental struggles that I did?"

What happens if I do have a child and when they are a teenager they are as depressed as I was?

From my sophmore through my senior year in high school I battled my depression and self hatred. There were a few days when light shown bright and I caught a glimpse of hope but over all those were some pretty dark and horrific years for me emotionally and mentally, granted for almost everyone high school sucks and is basically hell on earth I give you that, but for some of us it is a hell which threaten's life it's self every day. For me the horror of it got so overwhelming that I began to contemplate death, not because I really wanted to die but rather I just wanted the pain and sorrow to be gone. I was raise in a faith tradition that emphasised the rest which one finds in the afterlife with God, given this reading of death, I came to the view that if that was true wouldn't it be better just to end life and be with God at rest? So over the course of high school years I went from depression to suicidal depression. And on a cold winter night I finally decided to do something about it. I took some wine and I took some sleeping pills, hoping it wouldn't hurt to bad and I could finally be at rest, and went to sleep. Obviously things didn't work out as I had planned that evening because if so I wouldn't be here now typing. Instead I woke up two/three hours later and spent the next day and a half puking my guts out. Lovely friends, blackmailed (ie strongly encouraged) me to tell my parents and that lead to eventually getting some help and slowly finding ways out of the hole. I still struggle with depression, but these days I am more concerned about how this might pass to my future children and how I will I be able to help them navigate those dark and lonely waters, than how to deal with my own depression because I have learned ways to keep it in check.

I know these aren't often the things one thinks about when they think of having a child but then one often doesn't think about how that child might be born with major struggles of any kind. The various experiences of my life have taught me one major lesson, no matter what you do or who you are positive and negative things come that are unexpected and you have to figure out how to navigate through those waters with grace and mercy. As I remain childless and single I still process what struggles or hurtles changes in those circumstances will bring into my life and am trying to be present to fears and thoughts when they arrive. 

To loose a loved one to death is a shattering heartache no matter what, when it is at their own hand especially the result of depression or mental illness it is even more heart breaking because we feel that there had to be something we could have done to stop it from happening. I know for me there really wasn't anything that could have changed my mind except what I got, to wake up the next morning feeling like ass in a bag and have to get on with life. I hope that I can express my own struggles and hopes well enough with the possible children I might have with a honesty and truth that encourages and support them to seek health and clarity. In the end like much of life I must trust that when and if I have a child and they struggle with depression or suicidal tendances I will be given the tools needed to be a good parent as well as trusting that the God I still believe in is big enough to hold and work it all out in the end. 

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