When Will It End?

I remember my first thoughts of suicide were when I was in fourth grade. I did not have a particularly difficult childhood, there was no abuse or neglect. I may not have been popular or had a lot of friends, but I was generally a happy kid. I don’t remember why I had these thoughts. I do remember going for long walks. I would sing at the top of my voice in the middle of no where. I would cry to let out pain that I didn’t understand. I remember being depressed in high school and college. Not just the “I’m sad today” or “regular teenage angst,” but the black abyss with no light and no hope for the future. I would have trouble getting out of bed, but I would do it so no one would know that anything was wrong.

While in college, I finally discussed my problems with a doctor. I was diagnosed with moderate depression with generalized anxiety. I did not get any treatment at this time. I felt somewhat vindicated as when I had spoken with people prior (not medical professionals), I would be told, “Get over it. It is all in your head.” Now, I knew it was all in my head, but now I knew why. This explained why when someone was late, my brain went to one of two scenarios: 1. The person/people hated me and were not coming or 2. They were in a major accident and were on the side of the road bleeding to death. I am not sure which scenario was more difficult, although the second made me feel guilty for being angry that they were late while they were dead.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, thousands of people did not go home to their families that day. This shook me to the core. I finally went for help. My first few years of veterinary school were split between school and seeing a psychologist. They wanted to start me on medication, but due to some personal issues with medication and suicide (another story that I may never share on a public forum), I couldn’t bring myself to take them. I knew that one of the potential side effects was to have enough energy to actually commit suicide. I couldn’t do that to my family and friends.

At the same time, studies were coming out about veterinarians having the highest suicide rate of any other professional. I don’t remember all of the numbers at the time, but it was significantly higher than the general population and other professionals. I petitioned the school to have a counselor on site – in the veterinary school building, not just on campus. I spoke with multiple people. I went into my final year, but no longer had the time to see the psychologist or to continue petitioning the school. When I came back to school after an externship out-of-town, I learned that another veterinary student committed suicide while I was gone. I was devastated. I felt guilty; that I should have been able to prevent this, despite only knowing the individual in passing. Since then a counselor has been placed in the veterinary school for students, staff, clients, anyone that needs the support.

I graduated from veterinary school over 9 years ago. Since then, I know many veterinarians that have committed suicide and many more that have attempted suicide. The problem has not been improving. There are more studies being done to figure out why the rates are so high, but there has not been a solution found. Hopefully, anything that is found will help not only the veterinary community, but also the general public. Mental illness, depression, suicide are all topics that get pushed under the rug until something happens to spotlight them.

Today, I learned that Dr. Sophia Yin, an amazing veterinarian, animal advocate, lecturer, and person died via suicide. I don’t know what her struggle was. I don’t know why she chose this path to death. I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know that the world lost a beautiful person. I do not condone the action of suicide, but I do understand why people can feel it is the only way out of a mind fraught with anguish. My heart, thoughts, and prayers, go out to the Yin family, friends, the veterinary community, and the world.

When on those walks many years ago, one Bible verse would repeat in my head. Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will rise up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary; walk and not faint.” It was a long road, one I still sometimes struggle with, but when I wait upon the Lord, my strength is renewed. When I no longer try to hold the world in my control, I can let Him take control and life is not as hard. I have had people tell me this makes me weak. That I am less of a person. That I am stupid, illogical, and uneducated for believing in God. I will tell you, yes, I am weak, that is why I need Him. I am not worthy of His love, yet he grants it to me. I am not stupid. I am not illogical. I am not uneducated. I am honored to place my trust and faith in God.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or that life is just too much to handle please, ask for help. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (in the USA) or find a professional that can help. You are not alone. There is a light, even if you can’t see it right now. It takes a long time to retrain your brain, it may require medication, but life can get better.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “When Will It End?

  1. This is so sad. I keep seeing all the signs for me to not go back into the field. I want to choose happiness. I don’t see that in the field for me. I love you Melanie. I want happiness for everyone.

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    • Melissa – As I responded to you on your blog, choose happiness. Thankfully, I still love what I do, even though people often give me a kick or a shove, I love it. If you don’t love it, don’t stay in it. You are worth more than that. Perhaps that is my problem, that I have never really valued myself, so I am used to the abuse that we experience in veterinary medicine. I know I don’t deserve it, but I deal with it anyway. I try to stop staff from experiencing it, but really have rarely stood up to others that have abused me. I think it puts me back into that grade school rut of being picked on in the school yard. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter to me in the long run, but I guess it should. If I let it happen to me, then people think it is alright to do to someone else. I will need to ponder this. I love you, Melissa!

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  2. Pingback: I want to choose happiness | Seeker of fun

    • Thanks! I am finding that the more I talk about it, the more others begin to share. If everyone was more open about depression and other mental illnesses, there would be more help and acceptance. Please give Darby and Banjo big hugs for me. I miss being able to see you all.

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  3. As your mother, I loved you when you were a child and still do as you are an adult. While raising you five children, my quick Scotch-Irish temper got in the way & I reverted to spanking just like I was spanked…except y’all didn’t have to go outside and pick your own switch, y’all got my hand. We’ve talked a little bit about your thoughts of suicide & I believe that probably about 99% of the adult population has thought about it at some time during their life. If you blame me for part of it, you may let it out right in my face, I’ll still love you. You have always been a blessing in my life and I’ve always been proud of you. You told us when you were four-years-old you were going to be at DVM and I am so happy you have held on to that dream not all of us have us been able to keep their childhood dreams. Shalom, my baby girl.

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    • I love you, Mom. I don’t blame you for any of it. There are other areas that we have had our disputes, that is all part of being family, but what is wrong in my head is a chemical imbalance. Possibly genetic, but really not any person’s fault. I am thankful for the life that I had as a child, and as hard as some of the stuff in my brain can be, it has made me who I am today. I know in my heart that I am no better or worse than anyone else, it is the pesky brain issues that tell me otherwise. If nothing else, the love of you, Dad, and God kept me from doing anything about my suicidal thoughts…that and the fact that you would have killed me! I know it is messed up, but those were always my thoughts about it.

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  4. Hi, I happened across your blog on the A to Z Road Trip Sign Up because I’m looking for new blogs to read.

    This post captured my attention right away. It’s interesting stats that you shared, and I’m curious on the whys of it all. I appreciate your story and the authenticity in your voice. I notice that you haven’t posted in a while and I encourage you to keep writing and talking about your life. Your life has purpose and has meaning given by God.

    What I often remind myself of, is that God never promises us happiness in His Word. In fact, I’m not exactly sure how concerned He is with out happiness. But he is concerned with our joy, that is found only in Him, and that we follow him, step by step, as best we can.

    I hope you visit my blog as well: http://5heartsonefamily.blogspot.com/

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    • Thank you for stopping by. There are many theories as to why veterinarians have higher suicide rates, but none have been proven. I think it has to do with personality types that go into veterinary medicine, dealing with death on a regular basis, including being the ones that perform the act, as well as explaining why it is more humane then letting pets suffer when they are ill. There is also the availability of methods. I think the largest contributor is the helplessness that veterinarians feel when we do our best and our best isn’t good enough, and this appears to be a western medicine phenomenon. The rates of suicide are not nearly as high for veterinarians in other countries, but the expectations of the veterinarian and the client are not the same as in the USA, and other developed countries. The constant complaints and attacks on both a personal and professional level take their toll, especially on the psyche of those already at risk.

      I will continue to write, but am still working on what I am going to do with my life after my unexpected job loss. I tend to write when I feel like I have something that someone might find interesting, sadly, that doesn’t seem like very often right now. I know God has great plans for me, to be able to use me in ways to make this world better, to be His hands and feet on earth. That is the best thing!

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