My Fight With Depression and Suicide

Fighting Depression Get Help Be Help Someone Needs

I’ve been thinking a lot about depression lately. The back to back deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain really shook me. We all know someone who is fighting depression and/or suicide. You can’t always tell by how they act or what they say. I know, no matter how beautiful, wealthy, intelligent, or famous can succumb to depression. All I have to do is look in the mirror. Suicide and depression tend to be elevated in the military community, and unfortunately, you and I are not exempted.

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My Fight With Depression
And a Suicide Attempt

More than thirty years later and looking back, I ‘m not completely sure I wanted to kill myself. People who commit suicide leave a note. But I didn’t. I called my parents in time for them to call an ambulance. However, I do know that I thought it was the only answer. I did swallow all those pills. And I did lie down to die.

I can barely remember them breaking down the door or all the questions that ensued. But I can, 30 years later, still taste all that charcoal they made me drink at the hospital. I remember that the room seems extraordinarily bright and too cold to be indoors. And I remember how stupid I felt afterward. Nothing and I mean nothing is worth taking your own life.

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Get Help
There is Help for the Spouse with Depression

I still get depressed. But suicide has never crossed my mind again. I am not a depressed spouse. Never. Most problems are temporary. Suicide is permanent. And it’s never a solution to any problem.

You hear it all the time. If you are feeling depressed, talk to someone. Don’t ever think you are the only person to feel some kind of way. I promise you, someone you know is feeling the same way. And it’s not a weakness to admit feeling overwhelmed or that you need help.

However, I think that depression and suicide in the military are underreported and intentionally ignored. And it is my honest opinion, the stigma is somewhat transferred to the military members’ family members. And many people in the military family opt to get hide their struggle or seek assistance far from the military healthcare system.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) a suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers provides 24/7 a toll-free hotline that has depression support for spouses. Calls are routed to their nearest crisis center for immediate counseling and referrals to local mental health providers.

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It Can Happen to Anyone
Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s recent suicide has made it, not more poignant, but more perplexing. It’s not that I thought he would be immune to thoughts of suicide, it’s just something I would never ascribe to someone like him. He didn’t necessarily seem happy. But he did seem to have everything going for him, right?

I guess I figured someone who has traveled so much and seen so much would know that any demons he was fighting could be much worse. He’s seen the poverty, the anguish of being persecuted, prosecuted, and pushed aside. He’s seen, first hand, how despicable, desperate and dangerous the world is for some people. And how powerless the lives of so many people are when it comes to the will of the powerful.

So why on Earth would he put whatever suffering he was going through above all that?

Don’t Confuse Depression with Sadness
They Aren’t the Same Thing

Everyone gets sad. I am sad right now. We are burying a former president. And although I didn’t agree politically with President Bush I respected his moral compass and devotion to the country as a statesman and veteran. I really believe we need sadness to really appreciate happiness.

Seeking Validation
Don’t Look to Others

Especially social media, the trolls, or the negative nellies. I enjoy participating in some social media, but I don’t look for validation there. The Internet is for fun and entertainment purposes only. The anonymity of the Internet allows for trolls, saying things they’d never say if they looked into your eyes.

Take what people say to you with a grain of salt. Was the advice solicited, constructive, or valuable? Does it help you lead a more productive life? Peer pressure is not just something kids succumb too. The proliferation of social media makes bullying a real menace to society as a whole. And we all need reminding that a lot of today’s socialization is meaningless without context.

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Be the Validation
Be Your Own Prescription

I am not a therapist or doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. And I still get sad, but that’s completely different from depression. But I know what works for me. These are my tips for being happy.

  1. Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is the best medicine.
  2. Surround yourself with good, positive people. Keep in touch with friends and family– don’t ever suffer alone or in silence.
  3. Idleness is not a good look. Take a hike. Pump it up and dance until you feel better.
  4. Don’t medicate with alcohol or any other drug. It’s a temporary salve and often leads to crashes in health and spirit.
  5. Don’t fake it until you make it. Take life day by day. A good life, like a good hike, needs hills and valleys.

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