I Didn't Realize I Needed Help with My Depression Until I Wrote a Suicide Note

I added my mom to the group message first, then my dad, then my brother. And then I stopped.
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Shakirah Peterson
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I added my mom to the group message first, then my dad, then my brother. And then I stopped.

I wish I could write this in the past tense. I wish I could say that depression happened to me once and now I'm fine. I wish I could say that I wrote a suicide letter, freaked myself out, went to therapy, and now I'm happy. I want to say, confidently, that I'll never feel that low again.

But I know that's not how depression works.

I don't know why depression chose me. Maybe it's genetics; maybe it's because of that one traumatic thing that happened to me when I was younger. Maybe depression is some type of superpower I haven’t learned how to manifest yet (this is my favorite theory). Either way, it's here and, like a pimple when I’m on my period, it might go away, but it pops up faithfully at least once a month.

I once told someone that I struggled with depression and they laughed and told me that I "didn't have anything to be sad about,” and to a certain extent, they were right. I'm 23 years young, I'm healthy, I just graduated college with a fairly high GPA, I live at home with both parents, a brother, and two dogs. They love me unconditionally and shower me with affection regularly (whether I want it or not). I’m not rich or anywhere near wealthy, but I have a roof over my head and meals to eat daily. I don't have close friends, but when I allow people in, they seem to thoroughly enjoy my company. I have a great sense of humor, I'm beautiful, I'm intelligent, I'm genuinely caring, I have great fingernails (OK, now I'm just bragging, but you get the point).

I don't have a terrible life, and I’m aware of that. I know that things could be exponentially worse, but there is no bright side when you’re in a depressive episode. When I'm at my lowest, absolutely none of that matters. Falling into depression is like falling into a black hole. I can feel lonely in a room full of people; I can feel like I’m drowning even if the water is a sea of love. The hopelessness feels endless and the worthlessness runs deep.

I've known for several years that I felt sad a lot. I learned early on that I cry too often. Years ago, I Googled some articles and self-diagnosed myself with depression and with self-diagnosing comes self-medicating. It never got too bad. Alcohol and drug addiction runs in my family. I’ve sat through enough Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous meetings to know that addiction is not something I want for myself. So to avoid activating the habit that I know lives inside of me, I never drink heavily or use anything besides weed (sorry, mom and dad). I also meditate here and there when my thoughts aren’t too bad to be alone with. I had some bad days, but I was getting through them.

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But not too long ago, I was in the middle of the darkest depressive episode I’ve had yet. None of my usual self-medicating techniques were working. I was calling off work for days at a time, barely showering, and trying my best to avoid all contact with daylight and other humans. I felt unloved, unwanted, and empty.

The most surreal part about the day I decided I wanted to kill myself, was that it wasn't a horrible day. I've definitely had worse. Nothing terrible happened that made me want to end it all, but for some reason, that night, as I lay in my room alone in the dark, death seemed to be the only option. I was tired of hearing the destructive thoughts in my head. I was tired of not being a part of the happiness that everyone else seemed to have naturally. I was convinced that there was some other place for me.

I never thought I would feel so low that I would want to kill myself. Yet here I was on a Friday night, trying to find the right words to leave my loved ones. I took out my phone, opened up Notes and typed:

This world wasn't made for me.
I've never felt like I belonged here.
I know this is hard to understand.
I loved all of you.
I'm sorry.

I didn’t really have a set plan. I had some ideas, but I couldn’t decide on how I wanted to go about it. I just knew that I would get in my car, drive away and never come back. I was more concerned about the suicide note than I was about how the suicide would be executed. In hindsight, I think that says something. I didn’t really want to die; I just wanted someone to know that I was ready to die. It was a call for help.

I thought I would send a group message right before I did the deed. I added my mom to the group message first, then my dad, then my brother. And then I stopped. 

I felt chills. I just imagined everyone's phone vibrating and seeing the text. I imagined them rushing home and finding my body. I imagined all of them hugging each other, weak with grief, wondering how I could do this to them.

That thought is what stopped me.

How could I do that to them? What gives me the right to take away their daughter, their sister, the girl that they genuinely love? Whether I wanted to believe it or not, I was a part of them. Killing myself would be killing parts of them, and I couldn’t stomach it. I couldn’t murder people I loved.

I erased the text and never said anything about it to anyone. I woke up the next day and made an appointment with a therapist. 

If I’m being honest, I still don’t know if therapy is working. I still have times when I wonder if this life was meant for me. I still have days when I feel like I don't belong here, and I have several moments when I think that I might be too sensitive for this world. But then I remember that there were millions of sperm cells racing to the egg, and I won. There are a million ways to die, and I somehow manage to avoid all of them and wake up every morning. It reminds me that, clearly, I’m here for a reason.

And when that reminder isn’t good enough, I remember the story of my dad wearing pink for a week straight when he found out that he was having a girl. I remember how when I was born, he made a video of himself lifting me up in the air (like Simba from The Lion King) while reciting some long speech about how much of a blessing I was to the world. My brother kisses my cheeks every chance he gets. My mom tells me every day that I’m the sunshine of her life. My dog jumps on my bed every single morning for an ear massage (it’s the best part of his day). It reminds me that clearly, I’m loved.

I truly believe that for every low, there's a high to match it. If at my lowest I was ready to kill myself, my high is probably going to be pretty fucking great, and I can’t wait to see it.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States: 1-800-273-8255