Please be advised that this post discusses suicidal thoughts.
I lived with my parents for a month or two after being in the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) and going on sick leave from work. On one hand, it feels like I didn’t do much during this time. I needed rest, time, and patience to start recovering. On the other hand, as I think about all the aspects of treatment and support that started at this time, there was a lot going on!
In the summer (2019), I started reaching out for help. By fall, I had been involved with the Crisis Response Centre, the Crisis Stabilization Unit, and the Rapid Assessment Clinic. I was managing a new antidepressant medication, looking for a new counsellor, and looking into support groups. I was dealing with a doctor who told me he wasn’t comfortable working with mental health issues, didn’t take time to listen to me, and was discourteous. I was anxious about every appointment with him, but he did keep writing me notes for two weeks off work at a time. I called my workplace’s HR generalist each time I got a new note. That was stressful too because I was navigating the process of an uncertain, personal sick leave with someone I hadn’t actually met yet. She started in the position at the same time I went on sick leave.
Almost all of this was new to me and to my parents as well. I had been struggling for a while but hadn’t talked about depression until this time. I hadn’t been suicidal before. My parents were really worried about me and were struggling too. My parents wanted to help me, but we didn’t always know how to best navigate this new struggle.
One of the things that stands out to me the most about how my parents helped me is that they asked how they could help. I knew that they loved me and wanted to help me and that their intentions were always coming from that place because we were able to talk about it.
My mom and I are especially close and can talk through uncertainties, miscommunications, or hurt. One time, I told my mom something that felt like a significant statement, a divulgence of something I hadn’t said out loud yet. She didn’t react in the way I had hoped. Perhaps she didn’t know what to make of my statement or didn’t know what to say. I felt discouraged and vulnerable and started to cry. It was an emotional, difficult situation, but we were able to go beyond the initial emotions and talk about why I was upset and the significance of what I had said. My mom was able to validate the significance and encourage me. I’m thankful that my mom and I can have these kinds of conversations.
My mom also told me it was good that I was able to tell her what I was feeling and what I needed since she really wanted to help and support me but wouldn’t always know exactly what to say or do. There were other times as well when she reminded and encouraged me to let her and Dad know how they could help. This helped me feel more comfortable asking for help than I would have felt if I hadn’t received those reminders.
I asked my mom often to tell me why she loved me, what she liked about me, or what she was proud of me for. I knew the answers, but I just wanted to keep hearing them. I’ve always liked getting lots of long hugs from my mom, but I probably asked for even more during this time. I told my parents that I had spent most of my life so far putting a lot of pressure on myself and trying to be perfect, which wasn’t helpful, so now I needed to have patience and understanding for myself. In the same way, a tough love approach from my parents of pointing out how I could be doing more for my recovery or things like that wouldn’t be helpful. I had a couple other people who could do that for me if I needed that, but that’s not what I needed from parents. I needed patience from them as well and a safe place to rest.
There were also many ways my parents cared for me that we didn’t need to talk about. My mom baked banana chocolate chip muffins for me, which is one of my favourite desserts that she bakes. She prayed for me every night. My parents took me to IKEA to buy some things for me for my basement bedroom in Winnipeg to make it a nicer space for me when I returned there.
I’m thankful that my parents love me and support me so much. I’m thankful that they know ways to help me and that we are able to discuss how they can help when we’re unsure in new situations. That level of support and communication from my parents definitely helps in recovery and in going through life.
Suicide is terrible and tragic. It can be hard to talk about. It can be frightening to hear about. I am not encouraging suicidal ideation as a solution or trying to shock and harm with my words. I am sharing a part of my story, showing what depression can be like. This is one very real and serious part of my story that should not be left out. Talking about suicide can be difficult, but talking about these thoughts instead of hiding them can save lives. I am not the only person struggling with a mental illness who has been in this place. Thankfully, I also have other parts of my story that include difficult and ongoing healing.
Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line (24/7): 1-877-435-7170
Klinic Crisis Line (24/7): 1-888-322-3019
You do not have to be in immediate crisis to call these lines.
Thank you Kristen for reminding those of us who are following your journey that it’s okay “not to know how to help but okay to ask”. Sometimes we think we know how to fix things when we don’t! I am so proud of the wonderful progress you are making in this difficult journey.
This is a post that honors. It honors you, your parents, your situation. Thank you for sharing! What helpful advice. Ask what's needed if you are the one helping. Figure out what's needed and letting others know if you are the one in it.