On Thursday afternoon of last week, a student at my oldest son's high school committed suicide by jumping out of a moving car her foster parents were driving. The notice was on my e-mail Friday morning. "Did you know her?" I asked. He responded that he did in passing, but enough to know that she'd had a hard life. It wasn't until he got to health class that day that he realized they shared a class together. Her chair empty. The teacher silent. As if it was just another day.
I was always a sullen child. Much too intense and in my head for my own good. Especially in high school. I had few friends who knew me. Even those who did, didn't know how I retreated into my insecurities and solitude. I made excuses to be alone to drown in them. I didn't go to parties because I didn't allow myself to have fun. It was one of a few times in my life that I should have been on medication. It was very near tragic. Closer than you may imagine.
There is a seething simmering depression that I've battled my entire life. It ebbs and flows, but it never goes away. It's always right below the surface. Threatening to consume me whole. I could disappear without a trace. And at one time, that enticed me. Slipping off into darkness would be a release.
It's been over 25 years since I hit my deepest, darkest bout with depression. Even so, I still need to manage it daily. To actively keep it in check. Which is my top reason for working out regularly. And eating right. Spending time alone to recharge, but ensuring I balance that with getting out with friends. Getting off-line and reducing screen time. Being outside in nature and cautious not to overindulge in alcohol. And writing.
Depression is biological, psychological and situational. But, it's also contagious. Reach out if you know someone is struggling. And reach back if that person is you. There is no shame in getting help and receiving treatment. I wish I knew that long before now. At least for me, it wasn't too late to learn.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline