Depression doesn’t care who you want to be. It can resurface when you least expect it
Jessika had a secret.
Ever since losing two close friends to suicide, one being her high school best friend, Jessika has worked tirelessly in the field of suicide prevention—urging those who are desperate to step forward and seek help. What she never told anyone until recently was that she, too, tried to end it all when she was just 17.
Even with everything I know and have learned about mental illness, I still felt like I had to be silent. I was ashamed of who I was.
Jessika had buried the despair of her teenage years—including an intense battle with depression, an eating disorder, and self-injury—deep inside. It wasn’t until years later, after the birth of her third child, that the struggles resurfaced. She knew she needed help, but feared her illness could impact her reputation and that of her husband, a notable figure in the city.
My brain tells me there is a certain expectation for the wife of a community leader. We are both so involved. My husband is the head of a school—what will they think of him if his wife has mental health issues?
After years of trying to mask her issues and keep up appearances, Jessika finally began weekly therapy sessions. However, she was unprepared for the intense bout of depression that hit and its subsequent spiral downward. It was as though a time capsule had been opened and everything she had been trying to avoid and conceal came rushing back.
I realized that I had never learned positive coping skills, so my brain automatically took me back to the dangerous ones that I had come to rely on for so many years. I ended up in the hospital for two weeks after I hit a horribly low point. I never thought I would be there again. Depression can strike at any time, and there isn’t always a tangible reason.
As difficult as this process has been and continues to be, Jessika decided it would be a disservice to continue to keep her story private. She couldn’t let her fear keep her silent. For inspiration, she has only to look at the tattoo on her wrist—three birds with the initials of each of her children and husband embedded into the design.
It’s a reminder of what I’ve overcome, why I’m here, and why I must keep pushing forward.