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Shame is the Name.

Throughout the process of my recovery from Anorexia, I discontinued using all of my vices that helped numbed me to the pain of my past. With my vices gone, my emotions started coming back on board, which was not easy for me to navigate. I still have a hard time identifying and labeling exactly what I am feeling at any given moment, but the one emotion that I was never able to numb no matter how many pills I swallowed, no matter how many drinks I took, or no matter how many times I starved and purged my body, was shame. Shame never took a break during my 9 year battle with an eating disorder that completely ravaged my mind and body.

This tenuous and dark time of my life was triggered when I watched the interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Opinions of the interview aside, I found Meghan's willingness to share her struggles with depression and suicidal ideations very courageous and as she spoke about the shame that she felt, I was taken back to my own expereince with suicidal ideations and the shame that accompanies depression.

Six years ago, I found myself at my absolute breaking point. I had spent the last year on a feeding tube because my Anorexia was proving to be more powerful than my will to live and I began to plan my death. I didn't see any other way, as I firmly believed that I would never be able to shift the tide of my eating disorder in my favor. As I was trying to find the place in my house to kill myself so my two young boys didn't find my body, something came over me and I found myself dialing my husband's cell phone and heard myself pleading for him to come home from work right away. When he arrived, he found me sitting on the edge of the master bathtub with my head in my hands, sobbing. He was begging me to tell him what was wrong and what he could do to help me. I knew that if I didn't tell him that I was planning on killing myself, I wouldn't make it through the night. Even though my husband is a loving, supportive, and caring man, telling him about my suicidal thoughts and plans felt like an impossible task. He had done so much for me during my struggle with Anorexia and I didn't want to add more to his already full plate by now telling him that despite my immense love for him and my children, I didn't want to live anymore. I felt so shameful because I knew that from the outside looking in, my life seemed to be perfect. Why would anyone who has what I have want to kill themself? It didn't make any sense. But here I was, losing my grip on my will to live.

Knowing that this would be the moment that I either choose to ask for help or relinquish and distinguish my life, I swallowed my sobs and asked my husband to please take me somewhere because I had plans on hurting and killing myself. Without saying a word, he reached out, took my hand and lead me downstairs and outside where he gently put me in the car. The first hospital that we arrived at was a state hospital and the waiting room was packed and there was a convict strapped to a gurney while being guarded by armed officers. I started to panic and begged my husband to take me home, which he would not do. I talked with the staff counselor and did my damnest to convince her that I was fine and was well enough to go home, but both her and my husband saw through my fear and together they decided to send me to a different hospital where I might feel more comfortable.

When we arrived at the next ER, I had to stand in front of a very lovely man and tell him what it was that brought me in that night. I was racked with shame and leaned in and quietly said, "I want to kill myself." He sweetly nodded his head and asked me to please have a seat. A few moments later I was brought back into the ER and given a bed as there were currently no beds available on the psych ward. My husband kissed me on the head and told me that he had to leave to get back to our children and ensured me that he would be back first thing in the morning. Lying there, by myself, I began to ping pong between reality and delusion. Part of me was desperate to get out of there and part of me was screaming for help. The back and forth was dizzying and eventually caused me to pass out. Upon waking in the morning, I was informed that a bed had opened up and I would be transferred to the psych ward on the fourth floor. Delusion once again took over and I told the nurse that I was fine, I was just tired and I feel much better after a night's sleep. She took my hand and informed me that if I refused to be admitted, I would be put on a 48 hour hold until I was evaluated by a psychiatrist who could deem me unfit and I would become a ward of the state. I surrendered and soon found myself locked on the fourth floor with an assigned nurse who was to shadow me 24 hours a day.

I spent the first three days, of my one week stay, curled up on my bed, crying and feeling more alone than I have ever felt in my life. On the eve of my fourth night, one of the nurses came into my room to talk to me. Sitting on a chair, located at the end of my bed, she looked at me and said, "What are you doing here? You don't belong here? Look at the people that are here, they need to be here. You are not like them, you don't belong here?"

I had no words. What could I say? How could I justify my being there? How could I explain that my life was so terrible that I wanted out of it? To the nurse, I was a middle-aged woman with a loving and supportive husband and two beautiful children. I was not a drug addicted person without means to support myself, like so many of the others committed to the fourth floor. I was a heap of shame and the shame that I brought with me to the hospital was compounded with the shame that I felt over being at the hospital. I was shame. Nothing more, nothing less. While the nurse may have had good intentions,her words were not motivating and only served to propel me further into the dark pit of depression.

Although I was released a few days later, I was not discharged with a new found purpose or renewed zest for life. I was discharged with the knowledge that I needed to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, and I white-knuckled my way through the next three years, fighting off many bouts of suicidal ideations.

It is only now that I can recognize and verbalize any feelings of shame that creep up on me. I have learned that it is ok to share my thoughts and feelings, I just need to be selective with whom I share those thoughts and feelings. Even though my week at the psych ward was a harrowing experience, I would not hesitate to bring myself there if I ever found myself in the state that I was in those six years ago.

There is no shame in being depressed or suicidal. The most courageous statement that a person can speak is, "I need help." and then allowing that help to be gifted to them. Depression is an infliction that most everyone has expereinced in some point in their lives, so there needs to be an increased level of compassion towards those people who are willing to speak up about depression. It is not something that should be medicated with shame. It is a place that we should all be willing to go to, in order to help those stuck there out and back into the light of life.

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