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  • Approved for CNN

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    Posted May 6, 2014 by
    Montgomery, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Going public with mental illness

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    What It Is Like To Be Suicidal


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Christine O'Hagan, now a suicide prevention advocate, shared her story with CNN iReport after reading Erin Schwantner's CNN essay, "I was an accomplice to my brother's suicide".

    An expanded version of O'Hagan's story was published on CNN.com.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I am a 38 year old mother, wife, daughter, college graduate, executive, volunteer, member of the church choir, respected community member and I am mentally ill. Not only that; I have suicide ideation. I attempted in November 2012 and was hospitalized. Later, I was diagnosed as having Major Depression, OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have not attempted since nor did I previously. But that is not because I don't have the urge to.


    I have been asked what it is like to feel suicidal. This is difficult to put into the written word. Until the moment that I was trying to die, I wouldn’t have said I was suicidal. I can better explain what it felt like before I was suicidal. AKA my everyday life.


    I knew I was in a bad place. I knew I wanted to reach out for help. I needed to get help but the repercussions for doing so were SO great, I couldn’t even give any clues to anyone that I was in crisis. I started to hope and pray I would get a chronic, fatal disease that would take me soon. I didn’t care how physically painful it would be, I just needed to go. I needed a safe, soft, NOBLE reason to be gone and stop this eternal, internal pain. If a car wreck or cancer took me, my children would get sympathy, and my parents would have help and would have a reason to remember me fondly. To not have anger, shame and stigma hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. To have them have to defend my exit of this world like so many I stand by and fight together with against stigma today.


    I have Lupus, but that wasn’t serious enough to be fatal soon enough. So I needed other options. How do I MAKE THIS STOP. I needed a safe cushion to envelope me and tell me it was okay to relax and let go and make all of this inner pain go away even just for a minute. I needed a break from this illness. How much is a person supposed to be able to take? “Think of the positives”; “Be thankful for what you have”; “Look at the angelic faces of your children who love you and need you here”. I would tell myself in quick succession over and over and over and over and…


    No joy. I feel no joy or happiness. There are things that make me content, but I don’t think I can feel happiness. To feel ‘safe’ is the best description I can use for a great moment for me. It’s not because I have had such a hard life; I haven’t. Wonderful family. Lovely friends. Satisfying career. Acceptable intellect. A belief in God. Is this a lack of serotonin? Can that one little chemical be so powerful? I am not a hateful, arrogant, pessimistic person. I am not. I am not at all capable of violence towards anyone, other than myself that one time. I see the good in everyone. I cannot hold grudges (at my father’s chagrin, given what my exes have and continue to put me through). I forgive (although not forget) the injustices we find happening to us in our daily lives. Even the few significant ones in my childhood.


    If I take a day off, a ‘sick day’, which is rare but necessary, and stay in bed and try to let the strain, pain and stresses go, it just makes the next day harder to take. The medicine doesn’t help much and I don’t have the ability or the fortitude to become an alcoholic or drug addict to relieve some of the pain on myself. People can be functional and addicted, right? How I wish I could do that. ANYTHING to make this better. I realize this is a horrible thing to wish for.


    Don’t tell me good things about me. I AM NOT STRONG. It is not true. I don’t believe it and it makes me feel worse. I feel patronized. I feel like a toddler in Sunday school where they have to be nice to you and you feel it is fake and ‘put on’ and only done because that is what you are supposed to do as a Sunday school teacher. I am smarter than that. I can see annoyance in their eyes. I can spot fake a zillion miles away. It makes me worse. I am smart. So what?! It hasn’t gained me any rungs on the ladder of life. If I was dumb maybe I wouldn’t be able to see the horrible aspects of existing. The abuses and disingenuousness of humankind; the injustices of the world. Still, now in this day and age. Things that don’t make sense and aren’t fair; are. Children are hurt. Animals are beaten. Fakeness and a@@kissing gets you ahead at work. Being you, even if that means you are creating better results isn’t enough. Reaching out to allow them to let you be yourself isn’t acceptable. Be someone else. Be fake. “We don’t want to know” who you really are. Be who I want you to be. Don’t people know that I know this is not who they really are either? Why can’t we just be who we are and be good at what we do? I can’t be anything other than that anymore. I would rather take the rejection for who I really am than the acceptance of the façade of who I am not. I won’t contribute to the fake world anymore. I have to live in the real world.


    If I cannot help someone understand my pain, how can I help someone understand what it is like to be suicidal? I want to be one of those with the blinders on who can wonder through this life as a happy sheep in the fold. I want to so badly. I want to not just THINK positively; I want to FEEL the positive. I want to FEEL happy. Or I don’t want to feel at all. It is not a choice to be this way, or I would choose a million other ways of being. It is not about faith; I know God exists and I love Him and know He loves me but He didn’t create this affliction any more than He created cancer or Lupus or the Flu. I am hanging on; EXAUSTED daily. I am looking at my children’s faces every day. I know my parents are wonderful and they love me and that they would eternally feel indescribable pain if I were to leave this world before them. I am blessed to have a man that I do believe is truly in love with me and I have convinced him I will not leave this world on purpose. I am a prisoner of this war. I am a hostage on this earth. I am in bloody handcuffs and concrete laden shackles to this existence that to the outside looks like a pretty good one. Feel my insides for one minute. Peek into my horror. Know my pain; and THIS is a good day. I can move. I allow myself to be in the present. I am not in a dissociative state.
    THAT is what it feels like to be suicidal. This is mental illness.


    *Note: To read more about my story you can find my blog at crissi23.wordpress.com

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