This is 26-year-old Jasmin Pierre’s story about her experience with depression and encounters with suicide. This collaborative piece was in part written by Pierre and as told to over the phone to Adriele Parker of Black & Blue Me.
At the age of 20 I attempted suicide, for the second time. I downed an entire bottle of Tylenol PM and was rushed to an emergency room to have my stomach pumped. Once stable, I was sent to a mental health facility for six days, and for the first time I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Last year, just before my 26th birthday I made my third — and, God-willing, final — attempt to end my life. That time was the worst – I nearly died. It was my wake-up-call.
With each attempt to end my life, I felt hopeless. I was dealing with family issues, school wasn’t going well, and work was stressful. I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” At such a young age I was just tired. Of everything. I didn’t feel fulfilled; I didn’t feel as if I were accomplishing anything.
Early on, no one, except for my parents, knew that I was depressed. I never talked to anyone about my issues and never “looked” depressed. On the outside, I looked like my normal self and pretended to be okay. But on the inside, I was hurting. Bad.
When I was initially diagnosed with depression I had no interest in learning more about it. I felt as though the doctors made it up in an attempt to politely call me crazy. But I knew I wasn’t crazy; there was no way that I could be depressed. The stigma associated with mental illness had been so deeply engrained in me by society and those around me. I was in denial.
My dad and I were, and still are, very close. He was the one who urged me to seek treatment following my first suicide attempt. I’d never seen my dad so frantic and concerned. Seeing the worry in his eyes, I knew that I was dealing with something serious, and that he was right; I needed help.
I hated going to therapy sessions and I hated taking antidepressants. The concept of talking to a stranger about my issues was unappealing. And I absolutely hated the side effects of the antidepressants – I eventually stopped taking them.
Since then I’ve gone to therapy off and on, but last year I found the best support, for me, through my church. My pastor and members of my church have played a major role in my mental and spiritual recovery – my pastor is someone that I can call or text anytime.
My mind is at peace and my thoughts no longer race. I can concentrate. I’m not always tired. I don’t feel sick every day. When I was really depressed I was a mess – mentally and physically. Today I wake up and I feel like I can make it through the day. I feel like myself again. And I haven’t felt myself in years. And while I consider myself recovered, I know that I still have to be careful not to get back to where I was before. I know now to reach out for help when I need it and I have several ways of maintaining my mental health, such as taking long walks and writing in a journal.
A lot of people suffering from depression think that they’re alone – I thought for sure that I was, until I did some research and learned that over 350 million people around the world have depression. We are not alone, but at the same time we feel alone because of the stigma that surrounds the illness. By sharing our stories and spreading awareness, we can help each other heal – it’s an imperative part of the recovery process.
My advice to others is to do your own research and reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Often we tell people “you’re fine” or “stop being negative,” but when you’re depressed it’s not that simple and that’s probably one of the worst things you can hear. The more we learn about depression and the more we begin to acknowledge it as an illness, the closer we’ll be to eliminating the stigma and helping those afflicted recover.