No One Should Suffer in Silent Sadness

On Jan. 8, 1996, at the ripe old age of 12, I decided to end my life.

Obviously, attempting to end my life didn’t work out so well. All I got out of it is a terrible memory of that day and a weakness on the right side of my body. As if that wasn’t enough, it also came with a side of guilt for putting my family and friends through such a horrific experience.

From that day in 1996 until February 2013, I silently suffered from depression.

Why suffer for so long? People who know me would probably say it was my stubbornness. Truthfully though, I was embarrassed. I’d been given the gift of life and should be grateful for it, right? Problem was, I didn’t think I should’ve been spared and was bitter about the gift I had been given.

Then February 2013 came, and frankly, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. This time though, being older and wiser, I reached out for help. It wasn’t easy, and I was still embarrassed that I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

My first step was to get a primary care physician who would “approve” me seeing a mental health professional.  I soon had an appointment with both a Psychologist and Psychiatrist.  After a week of being poked and prodded and asked countless times about my feelings, I had my best night’s sleep in years.

Lucky for me, the psychologist was amazing and we hit it off right away.  I trust her completely, which is important because I had previously seen a different psychologist I had a hard time relating to.

A new fear gripped me, though. What was my mom going to think? I dialed her number, chit-chatted about the weather, work, upcoming vacations, my dog, my cat and my husband – anything to avoid the real reason for my call. Then I blurted out, “I’ve been really depressed for 20 years. I’m taking antidepressants, and I’m seeing a psychologist!”

What happened next surprised me. “That’s so great!” was her response. I was puzzled. Here I was, the biggest failure in the world who can’t do a simple task like “be happy,” and my mother is proud of me? She was and still is proud of me for recognizing I needed help and not being afraid to ask for it.

That first step was the hardest and took me 20 years, but it was the most rewarding.

So how am I doing now? Every day is different.  I’m learning to stop the blame game with my 12 year old self, accept that I can’t change the past and move on. Good days now outnumber bad days.  It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, but I’m learning to recognize my triggers so I can stop the downward spiral before it starts. To be honest, it’s a lot of work and not easy, but it’s better than being depressed all the time.

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, and in my case, was completely preventable. If you or someone you care about has symptoms of depression, talk to someone.  Seriously – anyone.  It’s much better than suffering in silence.

There are many resources available including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, your primary care physician or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also contact for information on other mental health issues.

Having a safe place where I can talk openly and honestly about my struggles literally saved my life. It can save yours, too.

I speak from experience when I say if you’re struggling with depression, don’t be ashamed.

Reach out. Ask for help.

Written by: Sarah Riley

This piece was originally posted on and has been re-posted with permission.


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One Response

  1. Joan Beckwith, PhD Joan Beckwith, PhD August 16, 2014

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