Postpartum depression.

Each episode began the same way…like falling down a mineshaft in slow motion. I was painfully aware of my descent, but powerless to stop it. From the depths of depression, the climb back to the world above seemed insurmountable.

No one who knew me guessed I was a suicide risk. Nothing in my behavior gave it away. I cared for my children. I showed up for work. But in the stillness of night, a soul-wrenching grief was tearing me apart.

There’s a myth that is perpetuated in the land of motherhood: self care can cure depression. I told myself if I could just get a little more sleep or eat healthier foods, I would be fine. I told myself that only a weak person suffers from depression. By the time I requested medication, it was nearly too late.

There was an overwhelming sense of shame that came with knowing I would take my own life, so I never told a soul. Instead I took a sharpie and drew an X on my hand. That X was to remind me of happier times.

It was to remind me that I wanted to live.

I was too proud to see a therapist and too far gone to ask for help. Instead, I focused on the feel of my baby’s breath on my skin. Each time he exhaled it was reminder that I must continue to draw a breath of my own. And when that wasn’t enough, I focused on my hand.

In moments of clarity the X was meticulously drawn out in sharpie…Bold, reassuring strokes from a more confident version of myself. Someone full of hope and dreams for the future.

On bad days–days when I felt like I was clinging to life by a thread– that X was a frantically scrawled symbol in ball point pen, indistinguishable to anyone but me.

It was my way of clawing at life.

There is a misconception that those who need help will ask for it. That’s not always true. Some of us hide in the shadows just praying the light will find us.

Nearly 10 years have passed since that X was last on my hand, but it burned an invisible hole in my skin that I can still feel today.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is my wish:

If you see someone falling, be it slowly or impossibly fast, reach out. Yours might be the hand they are waiting for. 🎗

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