As my eyes slowly flutter open, the blinding glare from the light on the sterile white ceiling causes me to wince. An IV bag dangles at the end of a silver pole, its line connected to a needle in my arm. Feeling both numb and overwhelmed with despair, I’m barely able to comprehend what’s going on around me.
“Debra, do you know where you are?” a woman asks authoritatively. I don’t. “You’re in the emergency room at Western Psychiatric Hospital,” she explains, a bit more gently. I can see through dim eyesight that she appears to be a nurse. “Do you know why you’re here, Debra?”
I’m too groggy to grapple with her questions. She pinches my arm hard to awaken me. I can see through the window that it’s dark, so it must be nighttime. Gradually, the mental fog clears as the nurse waits patiently for me to respond.
The impulse to end my life had consumed me since age 17, and it nearly won the night before. My plan was firm: Drink enough wine to douse my fear, grab one of the loaded guns that my criminal defense attorney husband, Harrison, kept in our house, and shoot a bullet through my temple. For a decade leading up to this evening, I was too afraid to directly commit suicide, not knowing the possible spiritual consequences (or if there is even such a thing) in the afterlife. So, I routinely played a sleeping-pills-and-wine bedtime roulette, hoping that with the right spin of the sedative wheel, I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
That fateful night, my drinking binge led to a blackout, which preempted my attempt to finish what I’d started. After I came to in the early morning hours, Harrison informed me that I had woken up in the middle of the night and announced my death intention, prompting him to securely lock his pistols in the gun case.
With a shrug of disgust upon angrily explaining this to me (I had no recollection of my middle-of-the-night confession), he stormed into the other room, turned on the television, and proceeded to watch some sporting event.
I pulled the sheets over my head and dozed back into oblivion. About six hours later, Harrison stomped into the bedroom and threw the covers off the bed.
“Get up!” he demanded. “I’ve had it with you! I’m taking you to Western Psych!”
In the hospital, the nurse pinches my arm once more, and I come to my senses enough to realize that my suicide plan had failed. Acutely disappointed by this awareness, I am consumed with hopelessness.
What preceded this incident was 50 years of depression, a disorder that told me what to think not only about myself but also the meaning of life, death, and the elusive truth about personal value and purpose. It dictated who I was, what to believe, and how to feel.
A faithful tormentor, depression refused to leave me alone no matter how much I pleaded and sometimes prayed to a deity whose existence I doubted. A merciless opponent, it was determined to enslave me with its chronic emotional and mental floggings. All those years, it never ceased nor had any regard for how weary I had become.
My brain began wiring itself for depression from early on in my childhood. Being in its clutches dominated my life by regulating how my brain functioned and allowing despair to overtake my emotions. Through my teen years and well into adulthood, depression didn’t care about my positive experiences, accomplishments, and other life events that should have made me happy. It marred and even ruined what should have been joyous occurrences such as pursuing higher education, having career success, obtaining a dream house, and giving birth to my children.
If you suffer from depression, which I assume you might since you’re reading this book, you may feel like there’s no escape from the misery, but there is. In fact, healing is possible. After a lifetime of suffering, I finally triumphed over my depression through means that are outside of traditional medical methods. I reveal on these pages how I revolutionized my beliefs step-by-step, rewired my brain—thereby changing my neurochemistry—and created practices and habits to secure the longevity of my mental wellness.
Above is the introduction to my book Out of the Darkness: Aligning Science and Spirit to Overcome Depression scheduled for release in early December.