A Cry for Help

For decades, I thought about killing myself almost every day because of the horrible things I’d been through. I wondered if I’d ever find hope again. Then I went to DLC . . .  

By Colleen

I had the routine down to an art. I would drive home from work, pull into my garage, stay in the car and keep it running, close all the doors, make a couple “goodbye” phone calls, then wait for the carbon monoxide to take its lethal toll.

This time, I’d think, I’m really going to go through with it.

But I never would. I was a wuss.

Looking back now, I realize I didn’t really want to kill myself. But it was definitely a cry for help. Only thing is, nobody could hear me.

I basically felt that way for about 40 years, ever since the day I was gang-raped at 14 by five guys—teenage boys I actually knew. One of them was my boyfriend. When I got home afterward, it was late. My alcoholic dad was passed out drunk, and my mom was asleep—which she pretty much did all day anyway because she was clinically depressed.

My parents were both in the mental health business—dad a forensic psychologist, mom a psychiatric nurse. But they were both so messed up and fighting all the time, so they weren’t really much help to me in my time of crisis.

I became completely unhinged and started stealing from dad’s liquor cabinet. He drank so much, he never noticed. That’s how I dealt with the rest of my teen years—drinking and getting involved in messy relationships.

As an adult, things would get even worse.

Losing my kids . . . and losing hope

I ended up getting married to a man I never should have been with in the first place. We had three kids, and it was never a good situation. Our children were 3, 5, and 7 when we got divorced. At the custody hearings, my ex did a real character assassination job on me. The judge ended up giving the kids to my ex. I was devastated.

I didn’t give them up. I would never give them up. I ended up extremely depressed and what they call “parasuicidal,” meaning I often contemplated killing myself, but never went through with it. I ended up in therapy, numerous self-help groups, and was hospitalized a couple times. But I never really found the help, hope, and healing that I so desperately needed.

In time, I ended up at David Lawrence Centers, where I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. But what really put me on the road to healing was their Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program, which is intensive therapy that teaches you to replace negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones.

I had to start with my “garage routine.” When I would get home and close the garage door while the car was running, I used the principles of DBT to actually say out loud, “OK, turn off the car now.” I did that every day until it became a habit—to the point where I didn’t have to think about it anymore; I’d just turn off the car without thinking. At first, I’d have to consciously say to myself, I’m going to stay in the game today. I’m not going to end it. And then it just became ingrained.

Another thing you do with DBT is add positive things to your life to replace the negative things. A lot of people with depression simply stop doing the things that used to interest them. With DBT, you do these things even if you don’t feel like it at the time because you know it’ll help. For me, I started going for long motorcycle rides with groups. I love to ride, and the freedom and relaxation it brings. It’s made a big difference in my life.

Making myself do these types of things has really helped in keeping the good vibes up there, instead of depression. It helps to counteract those negative things from creeping in, gaining momentum, and overtaking you.

Today, my children are in their teens and 20s, and we gave a good relationship again. Though I still have nightmares about my rape and terrible feelings about those years when I lost custody of my kids, life is good now thanks to DLC and DBT. I’m so grateful.

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