Jennifer Lee Smith

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Jennifer Lee Smith

I remember the day when life became too much for me. I don’t remember the events from all the days leading up to this day, nor I do recall the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back on this particular day. On this day – the day that could have easily been my last on this earth – what I can recall are some seemingly strange and disconnected things, such as my inability to swallow the hot dog and chips I was supposed to be eating for lunch (because the thought of food itself made me gag) and not being able to get warm enough, no matter how thick a jacket I wore or how many blankets I wrapped myself in or how high I turned up the heat. I can still recall sitting on my couch staring at nothing while “Friends” played on TV. I remember my teenagers talking to me, but it was as if they were whispering in some foreign language that I’d never learned. I know I took care of my special needs daughter on this day, but I can’t recall how I managed or what I did. And I will never forget the horror of realizing I had no idea who was in control of my mind or what was happening to me.

All the chaos and darkness in my life on this day culminated in my believing that the only way I could escape this confusion and pain was by taking my life. Years of going undiagnosed – attributing any “issues” I had to bouts of sadness, moodiness, PMS, etc. – had left me wide open to this brutal assault on my brain. I had no idea how to fight because I had no idea what I was fighting. Up to this point, I hadn’t even known I was in a war. Looking back, of course, I can see red flags. Now I know what depression looks like; back then I didn’t. It hit me full force and almost defeated me. I shudder to think about what could have happened on that day if my husband hadn’t arrived home from work early.

When he arrived home, my husband had to face one of the most difficult times in his life. He had to make tough decisions. Because he loves me, he made the choices that were best for me. It was a scary and painful time for our family, but we got through it together. I was hospitalized and stayed in inpatient psychiatric care for about a week. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I had group therapy and individual therapy. I was given antidepressants. I met other people with struggles and pain. I learned coping skills that I could use once I was released from the hospital. I rested. I could finally eat again. Most importantly, I had hope again. Then, I was able to go back home.

It’s been close to two years since I was hospitalized for nearly attempting suicide. I still have major depressive disorder and will likely battle it for the rest of my life. I continue to take antidepressants and have regular visits with my psychiatrist and therapist. The dark days still come, but I know how to fight now. I use my story to encourage others and to fight stigma. I am glad that I am still here. Always remember this world is a better place because you are in it.

By | 2018-09-25T12:10:12+00:00 September 25th, 2018|Categories: Stigma Fighters|0 Comments

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