“I can’t tell you what I was doing, or what I was wearing, or what day it was, when the idea of suicide first came into my head. I was in middle school, and I was just beginning to realize that I was intensely different from all my peers. I couldn’t bring myself to laugh and talk as easily as they all seemed to, I never wore the right clothes, and I didn’t care about boys. The idea of trying to fit my whole self into a persona that would be socially acceptable to “them,” the popular kids, gave me so much anxiety that I used to shake each morning as I walked into school. By the end of the day, it was all I could do to go home and cry. My parents didn’t understand me, I screamed at them almost nightly and waking up each morning was a battle I fought with myself.
“I knew I had a disease. I even knew its name—depression. I knew its symptoms, and that it ran in my family, and I knew its supposed “cure”—therapy, and/or drugs. However, something about the disease itself kept me silent. As much as I wanted to reach out to someone, anyone, I lacked the courage to be honest about the depth of my feelings. I felt guilty, and responsible for my pain. I regretted my existence on the earth; I realized that I would prefer death to the every day life I was living.
“Then, I made a different decision. As I can’t remember the day I first realized I really wished to die, I also can’t remember the day I realized that I would choose life over death. I do know that one of the most important aspects of that process was admitting the truth about the pain I felt, and I could not have done this without the help of Rae, a biofeedback therapist. In biofeedback training, Rae attached “leads” (censors that monitored brain waves), to different parts of my head. These “leads” were in turn attached to a computer that helped me to train my brain to be in different states.
“But the biofeedback was only part of the picture. Rae and I spent a great deal of our time together just talking. She helped me to feel less guilty about my depression. Once, when I was feeling completely defeated, she told me simply, “I know how much it hurts.” A damn broke. I cried with sobs that shook my entire body, and completely over powered me. We had identified the problem; we were half way to our goal. I went to see her about three times a week, and I spent a great deal of the time crying. Rae always knew exactly what to say.
“At first, I didn’t realize that it was my work with her that was helping me. Eventually, I began to notice the correlation between a session with Rae, and a good day. The more I saw her, the better I felt. I started to sleep through each night, and I was able to stop shaking as I walked through the hallways at school. I began to find joy in music again. I stopped drowning my sorrows in food, and I finally was able to tell my parents that I loved them.
“The most important thing was that I started to love myself again. I realized I was different, and I learned to accept myself and my depression. Once I had gained self-acceptance, everything else fell into place. I remember the biggest milestone for me was the day I realized if given the choice between life and death, I would chose life.
“I have come an incredible distance since the time when I felt depression was the only truth in my life. I have an immense amount of gratitude for Rae, for my own uniqueness, which I once hated, and for my simple existence on this planet. Living life day to day, as a functioning human being, is an ability that too many of us take for granted. This experience has showed me that it is an enormous accomplishment. When I remind myself of this, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude.”