I can remember the exact moment I was hit with an overwhelming urge to write about the fall of 2004. It was a sunny November afternoon in 2007 when I sat down on my bed and wrote:
I overdosed on prescription medication when I was seven months pregnant.
My heart pounded seeing those thirteen words side by side. I knew if I was going to get through it, I was going to have to be brutally honest with myself and anyone who might someday read it. I knew keeping my story a secret wasn’t going to make what happened any less true — perhaps by telling it I could help someone else. The words came quickly and easily and without even reading it over, I held my breath and hit publish.
Back when it happened in 2004, I never breathed a word of the truth to anyone around me. It was never talked about and only referred to as “that thing in September.” The EMT who transferred me that day remarked, “Why would you want to kill yourself? You’re so pretty,” as though physical appearance and self-esteem could somehow overcome the crushing feeling of illness, depression, and misery that had overtaken every bit of my existence during the last several months. I swore to myself that no one would ever know what happened, especially not my unborn daughter.
So why did I find myself sitting behind a computer three years later admitting to an entire Internet full of strangers that I had attempted to kill myself and my unborn child? At the time, I didn’t know. Something said, “Write about it,” and I chose not to ignore it. Now, six years later, I know exactly why I needed to tell my story: because others were suffering, and the silence and stigma around depression and pregnancy weren’t going to be broken until someone spoke up.
I waited for someone to say something, for someone to call me horrible names and accuse me of being a terrible person. It’s been almost six years since I published that post and I have received nothing but support and gratitude for giving antenatal depression a voice. In 2008, I read my post to a ballroom full of women. At the end of my reading, many of them rose to their feet, applauding. I dare you to find another venue where a thousand people will applaud you for admitting an attempt to end your life. I could have never imagined when I hit publish four years earlier that my story would land me in front of a standing ovation.
It feels silly to admit I have hundreds of emails from women who have thanked me for saving and changing their lives. It’s hard for me to believe that by simply admitting my weaknesses and faults I have been able to touch the lives of others. I keep every one of those emails in a special folder to remind me on my worst days that none of my suffering has ever been in vain and I am still here for a very important reason.