The last week has been interesting since Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides were in the news. In the same week, the CDC also released data stating that suicide rates are increasing.
I was a fan of Anthony Bourdain ever since his book Kitchen Confidential came out. I read most of his books and watch most of the episodes of his travel shows. So I was surprised as anyone when I learned that he died. I really admired his wit and observations about the world around him.
I was wondering if I should comment on social media about it and tell my personal story there. But I’ve kept my story private for a long time; people who are very close to me know but I’ve decided not to be open about my past issues with my mental health.
I spent my teen years clinically depressed. I was afraid to seek help because I didn’t feel like my family would understand. Additionally, I knew seeking mental health services cost money and my parents weren’t rolling in it. The one saving grace at the time was my best friend who had her own struggles. I’m not sure how I would’ve survived without her support.
One day when I was a senior in high school, I decided that life didn’t hold any meaning for me anymore. I bought a couple of bottles of pain medication and managed to swallow most of the pills down. To this day, I never felt so calm about doing something so consequential. For me at that moment, ending my life meant the end of my suffering. My family and friends meant nothing.
I obviously survived that day. I had medical intervention after I fell off my bed and my family found me in my room. The ER doctor told my sister that if I was discovered an hour later, I would’ve died or had severe brain damage.
I remember being surprised when I woke up. I was hospitalized for three months and had outpatient psychiatric treatment for months afterwards. Being hospitalized scared me. I didn’t want to be one of the institutionalized people who couldn’t function in the real world. That affected me a lot, more than the anti-depressants and therapy sessions. I wanted to be part of the world and live my life outside of my own head.
It took me a long time to recover from that day and move on. It’s been 17 years since that point and I’m a completely different person now. It’s strange to think of my life being cut short if I had been successful.
I still get my dark moments sometimes but it’s not as bad as they once were. I don’t regret struggling with depression for so long. For me, depression made me more capable of compassion, empathy, and able to understand others. It’s also harder to be judgmental of people who suffer from mental illness or commit suicide because I’ve been there.
While I was writing, I’ve been listening to:
Maurizio Pollini- Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C, Op. 53
Maurizio Pollini- Chopin’s Etude Op. 25 No. 11 & 12