This is the personal story of one of my best friends, mother. Her personal struggle, her life…. I share this with hope of helping others.
I am very passionate about depression and mental illness issues. I watched my mother fight for her life every day. She was a very strong woman in many ways. She got pregnant with my sister when she was 18, and had to drop out of school to raise her on her own. She met my father several years later and they married and had me. She stayed home with us until I started school, then she got her GED and went to school to be a nurse.
My first memories of her battle were when I was still in elementary school. She started the suicide attempts then. My father is a very proud man and didn’t want anyone to know about the attempts, so he always managed to stop her before she could take enough pills to end her life. I remember many times having to take turns walking her through the house to keep her awake and prevent the pills from ending her life. She would start off begging me to let her rest, and then she would sob and tell me that if I loved her I would let her go to sleep. My dad would yell at me and tell me that if I stopped he would beat me with his belt. I knew he would too because he did it quit often.
By the time I started middle school her illness had progressed to the point that my dad could no longer hide it from everyone. She was willingly admitted to many different mental health hospitals, several in Ohio where we live, and once in Chicago. She tried desperately to get the help that she needed to end the panic attacks that by this time were so severe that she was suffering daily. She ended up having 14 electric shock treatments, these didn’t help at all. It wasn’t unusual for her to lock herself in her bedroom closet for days or even at times weeks.
After my sister and I moved out of the house she continued to get worse and worse. She was very skilled at hiding it though so most people had no idea that anything was wrong. She ended up divorcing my father and living on her own. My sister has many of the same issues with mental illness and depression so the care of my mother was often left to me.
I lost track of how many times I had to admit her into mental health to prevent her from killing herself. We were very close. I understood how much she wanted to live a “normal” life. Mental illness and depression have nothing to do with ones strength. You can’t just pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get over “it”
Sunday evening August 30,1998 my mother called me and told me how much she loved me, how proud she was of me for being such a good mother. I knew without a doubt that this was her goodbye. I hung up the phone and sobbed. I prayed and begged God to give me the wisdom to know what to do. I knew that I could rush to her house and sit suicide watch like I had so many other times. But I also knew that she was serious this time. She was a nurse, she knew how much to take to end her life.
The next morning I received a call at work from her supervisor telling me that she didn’t show up for work and they had already drove past her house. She was home but wouldn’t answer her phone or door. With the peace that only God could provide me I told her that I was sure that she was gone, but to call 911 and tell them to force entry if they get there before I did with the key.
I ended up getting there first and fund her in her room. She had cried herself to sleep and her face was frozen in that position. People like to say that whoever ends their life is a coward. I promise you that is very far from the truth. My mother fought harder than anyone that I’ve ever met to get healthy. Making the decision that night to end her life was far from easy. She didn’t want to die, she just couldn’t live any longer with the pain that had consumed her.
If you, or anyone that you know are suffering from mental illness and or depression please don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. There are so many new medications out there now that can help with the chemical imbalance that causes depression. There are countless ways of receiving help. I’ve found and joined many different facebook groups for the prevention of suicide.
Many times the depression gets so severe that were convinced that no one cares if were alive or not. I’ve been there I know very well that feeling. But I promise you that that is satan causing you to feel that way. God wants to heal you and use your struggle to help others that are feeling the same way.
My prayer is that by sharing my mother’s story I may help someone else that is suffering to know that their not alone. I care about you and will be glad to point you in the right direction to help you take back your life and get the help that you need.