Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicidal thoughts and hospitalization.
I planted an apple tree in my yard three years ago. This year, for the first time, it has four apples on it. They are getting big and starting to turn a little red. The problem is, the apples are so big and the branches are so thin that the apples are pulling the whole branch down to the point it looks like they might break.
Before I went to the Crisis Stabilization Unit, I felt a little bit like my apple tree – bending to the point that I felt like I might break. The stresses in my life, like the apples, were weighing me down and I felt like I was going to snap any second. I had been in a deep depression for months and in spite of doing everything I could, I felt like I was just stuck. Depression is a nasty beast and sometimes it is amazing how far I can bend under its weight. But I often feel like I can’t take anymore – like I’m going to snap under the weight of depression.
For me, snapping under the weight of depression means committing suicide. When the weight of depression gets too heavy, the thoughts of suicide get stronger and more clear.
When an apple tree’s branches are struggling to bear the weight of its fruit the branches are supported often by stakes or poles. When the weight of depression gets too strong, I know I need to support – before I act on the thoughts that flood my head.
Support often begins with reaching out, to my therapist, my friends, or my psychiatrist. But sometimes that isn’t enough and I end up going to a hospital to keep myself safe.
The hospital allows me to be in a safe, stable environment where I can work with doctors and social workers to develop a plan to help me return home better than I was before.
I may still have a tiny branch, but with the right medicine, therapy, and coping skills, I hope to continue to bear my load and over time, I hope my branch can become thicker and it becomes easier to deal with the things life throws at me – just like over time, my apple tree will develop thicker and thicker branches to support more and more apples.