It was pitch black. Every time I took a breath it got harder and harder to breathe. My chest was closing. I was dying.
Another frequent scenario.
Aches and pains ran through my body attacking me physically and emotionally. It was dark, and I was all alone. No one else was suffering, only me.
Back in third grade, between the deep recessions of depression and panic attacks, I was only 8 years old writing in my diary how I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again. For so many years, I could not understand why I felt so empty and sad inside when I had just received all the presents I wanted for Christmas. Mom told me I was a spoiled brat who would never be happy. Where was her compassion and understanding of what I was going through? I didn’t know what depression was, yet.
Today, where is the understanding of the world for the millions who suffer with depression?
It is estimated that 350 million people worldwide suffer with depression. Someone you know is suffering from this crippling disease. Untreated depression is the number 1 cause for suicide. That being said, it is our duty to help our fellow mankind by being informed and learning to understand depression and its symptoms.
- Loss of interest in favorite things (sports, hobbies, people, life
- Excessive sleeping or little to no sleep
- Saying you want to die/ contemplating ways to die
- Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol
- Feeling trapped/ no way out of a situation
- Talking about feeling hopeless, having no purpose
- Isolating or withdrawing
- Mentioning feeling like a burden
- Agitated, reckless, irritable, anxious
- Extreme mood swings
We never have to feel alone. Depression tells us the lie that “we ARE alone.” By learning the signs, we can help our family and friends when they cannot help themselves. Understanding leads to change. Change can save lives. It is not everyone’s duty to be a therapist or counselor, but I do feel out of love it is our duty to inform ourselves so we can better help others.
When someone you know is showing signs of suicide you can contact the suicide hotline in that state, crisis intervention services in the region, 911, or 1-800-273-Talk (8255). If we as a whole can commit to learning the symptoms of depression, the warning signs of suicide, and who to call when help is needed – we can save lives.
Now, when those negative thoughts and pain start to creep in, I do not let it. I fight back because someone showed me that “I was NOT alone!” There is help and hope in the midst of the darkness. I am able to breathe again. I am able to stand on my own two feet and share my testament to the hurting world letting them know I’ve been there too. It’s a living hell, but they can get through it because I did.
Let’s keep fighting the good fight my fellow warriors.
Tanya Sue Pollard better known as Cheeta is a survivor, fighter and suicide prevention advocate. She is passionate about sharing her story so others have hope in their fight. You can journey along with her at @tanyasuecheetah