Let me set the scene.

I suffered with depression since high school and I’ve had suicidal thoughts, but they were more like “Hey you know it would be funny if I killed myself haha.” I know, I have dark humor. I had all the symptoms you hear about: cloudy thoughts, always asleep, feeling alone even around others. It was just a very sad and dark time.

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Photo Cred: Sophie Koryn,”Exuding Garden”, sophiekoryn.deviantart.com

High Expectations.

Well after high school, Nik and I had set a goal to live in Los Angeles, California. He wanted to act, and I wanted sing. LA would be the perfect place. We visited once to make sure, and instantly I fell in love. LA had very open access to everything I wanted in my dream home. Fashion, art, great food, nature, variety. There was always something to do right outside your front door. The weather was perfect and the music and art scene was incredible. The sunsets were amazing and music just sounded better through our car speakers. All my life I had felt so out of place but LA gave me hope that there were people like me. I didn’t want an exact clone of myself, just more people I can feel comfortable around while being myself: dreamers. I felt as if I was in some fantasy sitcom and I was the new girl in town moving to the big city to achieve her big dreams. It was my paradise, my runaway home, my dream. It was my escape, almost.

So I worked my ass off hopping from job to job. I had pushed back so many things: my health and getting a car just so I could hurry up and get out of Indy. I hated being in Indy so much and I had finally found my perfect runaway home. I just needed to get money and go. I figured if I could just escape and start a new life, then everything would work out.

Well fast forward to where Nik and I are a month away from going. We’ve delayed a year due to life problems but it was worth the wait. We had the Airbnb leased for a month and the car was ready to go on this 30 hour drive. We had said our goodbyes and shed tears. Ahh perfect…

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Photo Cred: @theimagerie, “Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos. San Gorgonio Pass, 1981” Tumblr.com

Until we came back after our lease was up. We didn’t plan on visiting, we wanted to live there. We wanted to start our careers, have family and friends visit and look back on our lives 10 years from now telling our stories of successes and failures while in Cali. We planned for setbacks such as, not getting certain life changing auditions or encountering fake people with supposedly “good” intentions. Never to come back.

Nik’s poor old car wouldn’t last long in the LA heat. We had to get the car fixed on 3 different occasions because his Jetta was unadjusted to the desert weather. Some pipe under the hood wasn’t working right, causing us to spend one grand on the car, on top of the other grand we had to spend to even get to LA in the first place. Jobs were taking forever to contact us and very few apartments were available for us at that time. Great, right?

So we had to come back. I was so desperate to stay, that I offered up some out of this world ideas such as staying in a homeless shelter, when we had a perfectly welcome home back in Indy. Nik didn’t understand the connection I felt with this place.

The drive back was the same. Easier in fact. I came home, and my family was happy of course. I was happy to see them, not to be back.

Back in Indy.

We came back in September, intending to go back to our paradise next January. I had a little bit of hope left but deep inside, I knew it was a long shot as the days went on.

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Photo Cred: Johanna Lopez: Terra Shae at Hummel Park. Plainfield, IN, 2016

I couldn’t go back to my old job at Lucky Brand because the staff was full. What else would I expect her to do when people like me went through the interview and hiring process just to stay there a little over a month? How am I supposed to save up to live out of state again without a job?

I still didn’t have a car. Which means my job choices were limited. I could spot a ride or Uber here and there but no money remember? That shit adds up.

It was the same routine everyday. Apply for jobs, eat, sleep with occasional waste-of-time interviews.

We discussed alternative solutions as a just-in-case things didn’t work out with Cali. Go to school, take some lessons, maybe get an apartment here in Indy to build our credit. It all sounded reasonable while it was just a thought.

Eventually the bills kept adding up and the time wasn’t slowing down. We had to pause our plans to Cali. Try again in a couple of years. That little bit of hope I had? Gone.

I literally went two steps forward and fifteen steps back. I felt like a failure, a joke, a waste of time.

October 3rd, 2015

I was wearing my big hoodie. I can’t remember if it’s the blue Pacers one I was recognized for in high school, or the blue one my sister gave me as a going away gift for LA. Ha. I was in the middle of cooking. I was home alone and I felt lonely so I called Nik and invited him to come over. He sounded hesitant, but he said he might consider it. I knew him well enough to know his “maybes” are a 70% chance of leaning to no. Then like a light bulb, I had the craziest idea.

Instantly I came up with a plan. I never had a plan before. I wanted to drink the remaining 60% of a 1.75 liter bottle of Smirnoff all by myself, take a relaxing bath, and slowly put my face under water. I wanted to drink enough to where I couldn’t think straight and feel anything. I just wanted to stop feeling everything.

Well right after I got done eating I was headed to my room to grab my materials and had the glass ready in the dining room. I had felt a slight relief of acceptance until I heard a knock on my door. Nik. Assumptions right?

After he left I wrote this diary entry in my notepad on my iPhone,

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Photo Cred: Johanna Lopez: Terra Shae at Hummel Park. Plainfield, IN, 2016

“If I die, I want to die beautiful.

I made sure to eat before it happened….I didn’t want to die on an empty stomach.

Today I almost drunk enough vodka to make me feel beautiful again. Today I almost wanted to take a shower and do my hair to be clean and look beautiful again. Today I almost ran a nice soothing bath while listening to relaxing indie music. Today I almost put my face under the water just to stop me from breathing, just for a little. Today I almost killed myself. I almost got away with it, but Nik came over. I invited him, but I assumed he wasn’t going to come. When he got here I was kinda sad. I wanted to finally relax and accept that I had lost. I didn’t want to die, at least not for long. I just wanted to go away for a bit.

I’m not strong enough to go through with it but I’m not strong enough to stay alive either.”

The day after.

I woke up in shock. I kept repeating to myself “I can’t believe I almost did that.” I started crying and knew I had to talk to someone.

I decided to call one of my other closest friends, Keith. We don’t talk as often since high school because he left out of Indianapolis for college but I know he’s always there for me no matter what. He didn’t know anything about my depression so this would be a complete shock to him. I figured it would be a little easier to explain to him because he’s had experiences with other friends in this field. I thought he would be calm, but I was so wrong. He was loud and yelling at me. If I didn’t feel bad before I certainly did then. I felt like a child being yelled at by their parents for dishonoring the family. He was so upset and shocked that I would do something like that and his expressions weren’t holding back. He gave me a list of reasons to not take my life. I listened. He had even suggested I call a suicide help line and was concerned of me staying home alone in the future. After we had calmed down and discussed some alternative suggestions, besides suicide, I had thanked him for his help. Even with his harsh tone it had showed that he did care and I was appreciative for his tough love.

Next it was time for Nik.  He picked up the phone and I could barely spit out what I had to say because I was crying so much. He had known from multiple past phone conversations what I sound like when crying but this time he couldn’t wrap his head around what lead me to my tears this time. It was morning time, before noon after sunrise. He asked what was wrong and through the heavy breathing I managed to say what was going to happen the night before. He was very calm. He didn’t yell at me like I had prepared for. It was a relief. We’ve had related conversations plenty of times before and I figured he was tired of hearing the same thing. He, of course, didn’t mean it that way but I couldn’t help my feelings toward his advice. I had felt bad for myself.

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Photo Cred: Johanna Lopez: Terra Shae at Hummel Park. Plainfield, IN, 2016

Nik’s words in the convo stuck to me. Not in this exact order, but paraphrased.

“You need help because I love you and I don’t want anything to happen to you. I want to see you happy.”

I had replied with dried up tears on my face just a soft toned,

“Okay.”

I knew I had this disease but I thought I could control it or LA would cure it. I was crying because I couldn’t believe I let myself almost go through with that. It was scary and I was just as shocked as he was.

Where I Be At Now

This all took place over a year ago. I knew I needed to get my health under control. I’ve read all the articles about how to take your health seriously, but I kept pushing it back. I assumed Cali would change that. In fact, Cali helped me realize without good health, I’ll never survive, no matter where I’m living.

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Photo Cred: vanzoetendaal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/schermafbeelding-2013-10-25-om-14.11.58.jpg

Since then, I’ve taken my mental and physical health very seriously. I first started with going to a therapist and listening to this podcast called Optimal Living Daily around November of that same year. These sources helped me find ways to cope and cure my depression. Then I started eating better and paying attention to what goes into my body around February of 2016. My love of exercise started in that following May. Shortly after that, I noticed small changes in myself, choices, and actions everyday. It’s weird to look back at my mind process today versus back then. I now feel like I am more capable of simple challenges, such as getting out of bed. My mind is no longer cloudy. It is no longer dark. It’s now sunny skies with morning fogs every so often. I enjoy the little things in life and started practicing mindfulness. I actually have hope when I wake up and I’m still thriving to better myself everyday.

Depression is no joke. This shit is real and is a disease. It’s not something you can just “get over” but it is curable. It’s scary and a constant daily battle with yourself. It takes time. And so much patience. Trust me I never thought I would see the day where I could live life and be just truly, happy…

Yet here I am.

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Photo Cred: Erik Flores: Santa Monica. CA

*Names were changed due to privacy*