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23rd of October 2018

Women



An Open Letter to the Mom Fighting to Stay Alive

Dearest Mama,

You may not know me — and I may not know you — but I see you. I get you. I understand you.

I know exactly what you are thinking and how you feel.

Of course, I know that may not mean much. My virtual compassion does not make you feel any happier or any better. I cannot do anything to take away your pain. But I care. I promise you I care, as do others. So please, if you've got a minute stick around, hear me out.

More: 13 Things to Never Say to Someone Who Is Suicidal or Depressed

You see, I am a wife, a mother, a mental health advocate and a consumer. I have bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and have survived suicide. Twice. As such, I've been exactly where you are. I've contemplated suicide, both as a person and as a parent.

The last time I considered taking my life, I was a mom.

And while I had everything to "live for" — a loving daughter, a loving partner, a great job and good home — when I was suicidal, none of that mattered.

It wasn't enough.

Why? Because I felt empty. I felt isolated. I felt numb and alone, and my guess is you know those feelings to.

You want to runaway. To hide. To disappear.

You want to fade into nothingness and never return. But my greatest struggle wasn't the void (as I call it); it was the feelings of shame and guilt. I believed I was a burden to my family, like I was pulling everyone around me down with me. And I thought, "They'll be better off without me."

I believed — genuinely believed — my death was the best thing I could do to protect those I loved.

But that is not true. I promise you that is not true. And I also promise you this: What you are going through right now in this very moment is temporary. The veil will lift. The darkness will pass. You just have to hang on.

For another minute.

Another second.

Another moment.

Hang on.

Make no mistake: I hate telling you that. I know how unbelievably hard everything is right now. Being hurts. Breathing hurts, and the smallest tasks seem monumental.

You may be snappy and short-tempered. You may feel broken, useless, pathetic and apathetic, and you may be struggling to eat or sleep.

Getting up and getting dressed may feel like a chore.

And parenting? That's probably the furthest thing from your mind — that or it is the only thing on your mind, as you feel inadequate.

The guilt is consuming you.

You believe you are a bad person. A bad parent. A bad mom. But having depression does not mean that you’re a bad parent, and having suicidal thoughts does not make you a bad mom. What you are is sick, not bad or crazy.

You are facing a very real disease.

Because depression is an illness — a mental illness — and it is one that distorts your thoughts. It makes you believe you are not good enough, you are not strong enough, and it tells you that you are helpless, hopeless, lost and alone. But, and this is a big but, it is an illness, and having that illness doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t mean you are out of control or your life is out of control (even though it feels that way). And it doesn’t mean you aren’t meant to be a mom.

It doesn’t mean people would be better off without you.

What it means is that you are like 6.2 million other adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of the population, because 6 million of us have (or have had) at least one major depressive episode according to Healthline, and more than 1 million of us have attempted suicide.

There are 1 million survivors each and every year.

More: I Attempted Suicide, but I Didn't Want to Die

So I say to you now the words I wanted to hear — the words I needed to hear — when I was last staring down a bottle of pills. When I was penning a goodbye letter to my daughter, my 4-year-old little girl: You are strong. You are important. You matter, and you are loved.

So, so loved.

And while I know love cannot pull you out of the darkness, while I know love cannot take away your pain, there are things that can.

Therapy, medication, meditation and time all can.

And you can get through this. You will. Because I'm not giving up on you.

Not now.

Not ever.

From your friend, fellow mom and survivor, from a virtual world away.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org or text “START” to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.

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