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Friday, August 15, 2014

I've got a story too

So by now I'm sure you're all aware of the tragic suicide death of beloved American actor Robin Williams. Since his passing Monday, many people have become inspired to publicly open up about their own struggles with depression using social media sites as a powerful megaphone to reach out to all of their friends and family.
Well, I'm going to do that too. But before you freak out, please note that through the power of modern medicine, I am now mostly depression free. I'm merely sharing how things used to be for me. 
So briefly, here's my story. I'll try not to be too heavy - no one likes a party pooper.
When I was 14 years old,  I was a fairly "normal" teenage girl, but the symptoms of depression were definitely beginning to show. I began to feel sudden bouts of intense anger and frustration with everything. My mom began to notice but because this all came about when I got my first period, she brushed it off and said it was just hormones. My mother later discovered I had been cutting myself on my upper thigh with a pocket knife. Instead of talking to me to figure out this odd behavior, she beat me and told me that if I wanted to feel pain I should let her know and she'll take care of it for me.
I didn't stop cutting myself. I just got better at hiding it.
When I was 18 I stayed in a constant state of extreme irritability. I carried in my body a physical tension that just wouldn't let go. The only time I felt relief from this awful tension was when I sneaked off somewhere to cut myself. I felt hopeless, guilty, ugly and just plain worthless. Soon I began to contemplate suicide. I wanted to be free from all of the negative feelings most desperately and with no one to turn to and a mother who still insisted it was merely PMS, death definitely seemed like a good way out. 
19 years old - I snapped.
My goody-two-shoes friend caught me smoking cigarettes whilst reading an erotic novel one afternoon. As this is very unacceptable behavior for a young Christian woman, she scolded me and made me feel like the worst person in the wold. Guilt stricken, I completely disintegrated. I went to the bathroom and took four sleeping pills. Of course I wasn't trying to kill myself with just four pills - I just wanted to relax and go to sleep - hit the restart button and talk it out with her in a few hours. But as I sat on the couch to wait for the sleepy feeling, I got up, went to the kitchen and slit my left wrist twice with a steak knife. That wasn't my plan though - it was almost as if I was under a spell. I knew I was doing it, but I couldn't do anything to stop myself. Oddly enough, I was very satisfied with what I had done. It felt great. I felt peaceful and giddy and contemplated working at it some more. Let's be sure to hit that vein this time.
I was out my head.
Instead of going for my other wrist I sat down and calmly called 911.
"I just slit my wrist. Hm? Yeah, I'm ok... but I think I need some help."
A single cop came, put me in handcuffs and put me in the back of his squad car and took me to the hospital.
After spending just TWO DAYS in a behavioral health center the "doctors" concluded I had:
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Mild Depression
Sleep and Mood Disorder
How they managed to come up with all that after a thirty minute evaluation is beyond me.
I was given waaaaaay too much medication that I didn't need and couldn't afford.
22 years old, I couldn't make it in the "real world" and I had moved back in with my mom the previous year. I couldn't keep a job and I was worse than ever and still cutting myself. I felt I was fat and ugly and stupid and people like me are burdens to the world and don't deserve to live. During that time for several nights before I went to sleep, I would pray that God would take me in my sleep so I wouldn't have to burden the family with the drama of suicide. 
The next year, I went to the State to be evaluated, to see if I was fit for the workforce or if I needed to be on disability. They told me that with a little help, I could most likely go to work. With no charge they sent me to a psychiatrist (who suuuuucked) but he put me on a medication that worked wonderfully. 
Slowly, the fog began to roll away. It was like finally waking up from a nightmare. The tension and negative thoughts began to disappear. I stopped cutting myself, I stopped dreaming of death and I began to feel more "normal". Now I'm 29 years old and I still take my pill. (Yes, even during pregnancy - the benefits FAR outweigh the risks).
Taking the medication is a very necessary part of my life. I don't feel that I can live without it and I don't want to experiment to see what it would be like without my meds.
I love not being suicidal and if I have to take a pill everyday for the rest of my life to stay that way, then so be it.
So that's my story and now that you've read this, please note that I don't want sympathy; I DO however, want a little bit of understanding, not just for myself, but for everyone who is suffering or has suffered from depression- so before I go I'd like to leave you a little bit of important info about depression and self harm based on my personal experience.
#1. Depression isn't always the result of something bad that happened to you in the past or even the result of what's happening to you now.
I wasn't molested or abused in any way, shape or form growing up. My childhood was pretty decent and I'm not suppressing any kind of deep dark secret about something bad that I've experienced in the past. I just have a simple chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me FEEL just as horrible as the victims of such tragedies.

#2. You can't just will yourself out of it
If it was that easy, I would have "cured" myself a loooooooong time ago.

#3. Self harm isn't a cry for attention
When I was depressed I felt a constant aggravating buzzing sensation all throughout my body. When I was angered or saddened the sensation intensified and I became as tense as a brick. Cutting myself released something within me that relaxed me and made me feel more stable - it was like getting high and like all highs, it wears off.... so you have to go back and do it again and again and again. After several years of cutting myself, I became messy and no longer made much effort to cover my scars. It wasn't because I wanted everyone to see my struggle and dive in to save me - it was because cutting myself was just a  normal part of life and my scars were just a normal part of my body like a mole or a freckle.

#4. Overcoming depression doesn't make you a psychiatric guru
Whatever method you used to overcome your depression: medication, meditation, therapy, etc - doesn't mean you've found THE solution for all mankind. YOU found a solution for YOURSELF. Having said that, I dare not bring myself to advise anyone on how to conquer depression because what worked for me might not work for you and I don't want to be responsible for letting anyone down. All I can do is share my story to ensure you that I understand. I've been there before and there IS hope.

To help you better understand depression please check out this great article "7 Myths of Depression"


  1. Thanks for sharing, Hollie, and for dispelling some of the myths surrounding depression. Mental illness is so poorly understood and represented in our culture. Xo

  2. I'm so happy you got help. So many people don't ( for whatever reasons) My BBF struggles with depression, I love her like a sister, and it's really hard not to be able to kiss her and make the bad go away. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Now, hurry up and have that new baby! I want pictures!

  3. Whoa... what a story. Thank you for sharing, Hollie. I'm glad you found a way to stabilize your condition.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, I'm just so glad to hear you are better now, if the pill helps of course take it. I have never suffered from depression so I don't know what it's like so I appreciate you teaching me by sharing your story.
    Much respect and even more love to you!

  5. I'm so glad you took action! I know it's not easy to do. REALLY not easy. I'm cheering for the life you've created for you and your family right now, and look forward to your new bebe.

  6. Thanks for sharing some of your story. I wish people would see depression the way we see diabetes, rather then some hocus-pocus psycho babble that can be cured with positive thinking. My husbands side of the family all suffer from depression & he takes a little pill every day. I'm so glad you're still here shining your light into the world. Must say I loved your point number 4. So well expressed. Xx

  7. You haven't got my sympathy, you've got my admiration and adoration instead. What a sad start you had and what a brave young woman you were for accepting help and becoming the fabulous, intelligent, successful adult you are now. Thank you for sharing. xxxx

  8. I'm so glad you are where you are now, and that you shared your story. I've known a lot of people who need or needed medication because of depression. Like you said, it's a chemical imbalance. I've had it for short spurts, and there's no way to rationalize it away. When it lifts, there's no specific reason. The body is so complex with chemicals, vitamins, enzymes, hormones - it's not surprising the mix gets screwed up sometimes!

    Hurray for you for sharing and being able to look at it objectively now!

  9. Thank you for sharing. I was one that insisted I didn't need help and could take care of my anxiety and depression on my own. I was wrong, and now I take a pill once a day too. It has made a big difference in my life and my families. :-)

  10. Yea for you Hollie for making it through, one way or another, over and over, until you got what you needed to make it better, better, better! Congrats on being here now with a babe on the way. Blessings all around.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story, Hollie. Heart-breaking, but inspiring. You are a great example to people who are suffering from this. (((hugs)))

  12. It's so good you were able to get the right medication for you, depression is cruel and tormenting, it's rather prevalent in my family and I admire you so much for dealing with it and getting help (getting the right help can be an absolute nightmare, often lengthy and full of obstacles ) you are right, there is hope, and I do thank you for sharing your story x x x

  13. Thank you for sharing. I find it very hard to understand true clinical depression from the outside. I've known 3 people that have committed suicide quite young. I am so glad you eventually found some meds that worked for you and did not go for that other wrist. Now, Robin Williams, I obviously did not know, but am WEIRDLY very attached to and have been crying over his death like someone who is grieving.

  14. Hmmmm... I guess I was supposed to sign in to Google first because now everything I typed was gone. Here is the short version:
    Thank you for being brave and sharing this experience and letting people know this is a chronic illness - like arthritis or diabetes or any of a hundred others that require people to take meds daily. I have never read any blog before and came to this looking on Google for ways to make vests. I was mesmerized by your site. You are brilliant and funny and open. Whenever I chance upon someone like you I am amazed they are not famous, because their very personality shines. I also enjoy your pictures - such a beautiful family! I have placed your site in my favorites for future reading, particularly on those days that I particularly dislike other humans- to remind me that it gets better and its worth hanging in so we will have an opportunity to meet the "good people"!


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