26 October 2011

The night I wanted to kill myself.

It was the middle of the night when I drove up and parked at the Emergency Room at Wilford Hall Medical Center on Lackland AFB. It was dark outside, and humid. I parked the car, turned it off, and just sat there for a moment, staring at the doors. "I don't have to do this. I could just turn around and go back home.". But no, I knew that I had to do it. I got out of the car and slowly walked inside. I know it only took a minute but each step seemed to take an eternity. I went inside and stepped up to the desk, sat down and produced my military dependent id card, and started filling out the paperwork that everyone has to sign when they go to the ER at Wilford Hall. The person on the other side of the desk asked something along the lines of "What are you here for today?". I took a deep breath, hesitated, and said "I'm 3 months postpartum and I want to hurt myself.". The hardest sentence I'd ever spoken. 1 year earlier, I'd been sure that nothing would ever be harder to say than to tell my parents that my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were pregnant, but I had found a phrase that was more difficult to utter.

I don't really remember too much after that. I remember that the chaplain was there with me, having woken up in the middle of the night to meet me at the ER so that I wouldn't have to do it alone. I remember that they took me straight to the back instead of leaving me in the waiting room. I had my vitals taken and gave my medical history and then I was told that I was going to be given to the Charge Nurse. I don't remember her name, just that she was an officer in the US Air Force and had blonde hair and a very kind face and compassionate tone. She embodied what a nurse should be. She walked me back to a room right outside of one of the desks so that they could have eyes on me at all times. I was given a gown to put on. The Nurse asked me more questions about what was going on. I was crying. I told her my story. I told her that I felt like such a horrible mom and wife for abandoning my husband and baby daughter, that I felt so ashamed, that I was worried that someone would come to take my daughter away, that I was concerned that my husband would lose his security clearance because of me, that I was scared. The truth was, I wasn't scared. I was beyond terrified. I was terrified of how I felt, of what I might do to myself or my baby, and terrified that this would never end.

She was so kind to me. She told me that she had dealt with PPD and that there was nothing wrong with me that couldn't get better and that I hadn't done anything wrong but that I had done something very right by coming to the ER. She told me "I had PPD really bad and now look at me, I'm an officer in the Air Force and a nurse.". That was slightly reassuring. She told me "You will get through this, it won't last forever." and then wasn't offended that that was hard for me to believe.

I was given a gown to change into and my clothes and shoes were taken away, they made sure that there was nothing in the room that I could hurt myself with. They drew blood and ran an EKG on me, explaining that it was to make sure that there wasn't an underlying medical problem causing this. Everything came back normal and a doctor came in and talked to me. I said that yes, I would consent to being hospitalized and off he went to find out which facility out in town had room for me since neither of the military hospitals in town accepted dependents on a Psych hold, only Active Duty. Eventually, I was told that I was going to go to Laurel Ridge. The Chaplain prayed with me and eventually went home while I tried to get some sleep. Really I just laid there in the dark feeling so upset and ashamed, so weak, broken, feeling like a failure, waiting for the ambulance to come pick me up to transfer me to Laurel Ridge. That wouldn't happen until about 8:00am.

It was the longest night of my life. I laid there thinking that it was one of the worst nights of my life and that nothing would ever be the same again, that nothing would ever be better. I felt like I had let my family down. I can't really put into words properly all the emotions that were running through me, I can't depict how it felt. I was lying in a room by myself in the dark where I had to have the door open at all times, I had no privacy. I had to let them know if I needed to use the restroom. I felt dirty, ashamed, broken. It was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever been through. I can't even remember every detail, there's so much about the months leading up to that night, and that night itself, that are a hazy blur. I was there and I hated myself for it. I cried the entire night and a very good portion of the next day. If I finally settled down, someone could just glance in my direction and I would start back up again. I felt every emotion I possibly could and yet I felt nothing. I second guessed whether I should have gone. I was sure that I would regret it in the morning. I kept waiting for someone to ask me where my daughter was so they could take her away. I hated myself, what I had become, what I had almost done, and what I had done. Anyone who thinks that it's easy to admit to having suicidal ideations, PostPartum Depression, needing help, is mistaken. I literally felt like I was in a deep, black hole without any windows and without any sunlight even coming in from above. I wasn't sure I would survive.

I did.

I don't tell you this story to scare you if you need to seek help. I tell this story because I want people to know that I have been there. If you're there now, you will make it through. There is hope, there is help. If you know someone who is in this place right now, don't judge them. They're already doing a good enough job of that on their own. They need your help to be strong.

I tell this story to tell the world that not only did I survive, I came out a stronger and better person. I am a fighter. I am a warrior. I am a survivor. I am proud of it.



  1. I like how you ended your story. You should be proud! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. That nurse sounded amazing. You are a stronger woman, and sharing your story will, and has helped others feel less alone.
    Thank you