Suicide Broken Down

Dawn Stergin
4 min readOct 17, 2020

What happens in the mind

Photo by vipul uthaiah on Unsplash

The family I grew up in was not loving, nurturing, and safe as a family is supposed to be. It was chaotic, violent, and filled with addiction. I first became aware I was depressed when I was twelve. I wanted to go to therapy, but this was not possible. By the time I was 18, I was an alcoholic.

On two occasions I attempted suicide: once at age 16 and once at age 21. Though I got sober, like alcoholism, I have never been “cured” of depression, but rather keep it in remission. I have not been suicidal in many years, but the idea of suicide is like a fixture in my brain. A back door that is always there, though usually closed. The creature, depression, sits crouched in the corner ready to open the door when an escape is needed.

Photo by Marloes Hilckmann on Unsplash

The dual diseases of depression and alcoholism remind me of the movie “Gremlins”. When you feed a Mogwai after midnight they turn into Gremlins and if they get wet they multiply. The word mogwai is Cantonese for monster or evil spirit. Depression may cause people to consume large amounts of alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate and feel better. However, alcohol makes the depression worse. It becomes a cycle that feeds into itself gathering intensity and very difficult to break, increasing the likelihood, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts.

I have been on antidepressants for about 25 years and have been told I will probably be on them for the rest of my life. Believing I was broken, I fought the idea of being dependant on medication and made four attempts to come off of them. Each attempt was a worse failure than the last with a faster spiral down. As recommended by doctors, I weaned off slowly, replaced the medication with exercise, focused on healthy eating, and maintaining a support system. This always seemed like a great plan that would work, but it didn’t. Like a diabetic dependant on insulin, I have learned there is no way to fix this. I have to take the medication AND take good care of myself. This keeps the creature quiet and the door closed.

The third time I came off the antidepressants I took a week’s vacation to Florida. It was January and I thought a nice…

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Dawn Stergin

Former addictions counselor, empty-nester, activist, animal lover, writer and lover of what it means to be human.