HEY, YOU MATTER | The Sanilac County News sanilaccountypress Hey, You Matter!! CMH Staff Writer: L. Johnson “The first time I thought about suicide I was 5 or 6 years old. I wanted to jump off a building.” These were the first words Cindy shared during our conversation about her recovery. “I thought everyone had a plan for suicide, it was my norm.” As we continue our ‘You Matter’ Campaign during Mental Health Awareness Month our focus continues on stigma reduction and recovery. We want to assure those who may be living with, or have family members diagnosed with mental illness, that recovery is possible. I’d like to share with you Cindy’s story. Cindy was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder after her suicidal thoughts brought her to the waters edge with the plan to end her life at the age of 31. “I was standing on one of those concrete things, my feet in water, my shoes wet, and I was determined that I was going in. Then there was this little voice that said ‘you should go thank Joanna before you die.’ I’m a compliant person so I went to Joanna’s door and she took one look at me and said ‘what’s going on?’” Cindy paused to gather her emotions. “I told her I was going to kill myself. ‘Oh no you’re not’ she said, ‘you’re going to come inside and we’re going to have some tea.’ She made tea and we talked. She suggested I talk to a counselor. I firmly credit her for stopping me that day, because I was done. I was done.” It was difficult for Cindy to see a counselor. “I was melting out of the chair. It was awful to share my brain with someone because I knew that it didn’t work right; it didn’t work like everyone else’s. You’re vulnerable when you’re crying and nobody wants to be vulnerable, we want to be strong,” Cindy shared. “It was a relief to be diagnosed. There was a name for what was happening in my brain and it wasn’t my fault, not that it’s not my responsibility; but it was not my fault. Because that was the other thing you know, blame. You usually blame yourself.” Cindy and I talked about medication for her depression. “When I finally got on medication I was like the poster child for it! Medication cleared off the fog of my mind. I was like oh my God I could have felt like this the whole time?” Cindy said it was a commercial that made her decide to start medication therapy. “You know that commercial where they are walking around and everything is black and white? She’s walking along and the flowers don’t catch her attention, the butterflies don’t catch her attention or the birds, and that made me burst into tears. I’m watching that commercial and I am like okay, I do that, that’s me. I couldn’t take it anymore.” Cindy’s journey through recovery began in 2000 and will be on-going through her life. She describes recovery like a dance. “It depends on the partner; maybe it’s a counselor, maybe a counselor and medications, doesn’t matter, it’s your own dance. Maybe you tripped and fell down and need these things to help you get up again. It’s like a dance that’s always changing, and it’s not always the same partner that will help you up.” Cindy continued, “Depression wants to wear you down. Depression wants you to sit down. It wants you to exit the dance, have a seat, and fade away into nothing. It wants to be in control; it wants to lead the dance. I know if I go off my medication I am stepping out of the dance.” I asked Cindy how people can help others with depression. She shared, “When you ask someone how they are doing and they say ‘I’m fine,’ ask again. Look for isolation and behavior changes. You have to pay attention and notice things. Are they watching their feet, are they checking out the pavement or are they watching the birds fly or looking at the sky? If they are closed up and appear non-approachable, those are the people that need to be approached! You need to reach out to them and say are you okay? People don’t understand,” Cindy stated. “People with depression camouflage and we’re really good at it. We have learned that to a certain extent we have to fit into society, their expectations. So we wear the mask to hide anything out of the norm. We hide it; we cover it up. You know you are not functioning properly and you can’t. You can’t get ahold of your own bootstraps to pull yourself up. You can’t! Depression just wants to grind you down and sometimes you don’t have the words to say, ‘hey, I am not okay’. If you live with depression, you need to surround yourself with people that will stick with you. Whether that be the church, friends or family you need to have your own safety net.” We agree, and we’re here to be a part of that safety net if needed. Stop the shame. End the silence. Celebrate recovery. Because, You Matter! If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call our 24/7 Access Line at 1-888-225- 4447 or the National Suicide Talk Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can text 741741 and be connected to a crisis counselor.