The Day This Photo Was Taken, I Was Contemplating Suicide

by Breanne Kiefner
Originally Published: 
Breanne Kiefner

Trigger warning: suicide

On the day this photo was taken, I contemplated killing myself.

I recently posted my depression story on social media:

I’ve been struggling to find the words. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and postpartum depression. Having just come out of the darkest 2 years of my life, all I can feel is grateful. Grateful I finally get to LOVE being a mom. Grateful I get to cherish my incredible husband once again. Grateful I’m passionate about travel, the outdoors, great conversation, exercise, music, and most importantly being alive once more.

I’m so thankful I found an amazing team of doctors/healers. It took years of hard work, counseling, and antidepressants. David showed me so much kindness and patience and gave me the strength to find help. Without him, I wouldn’t be on this side of the darkness. (To all the spouses out there, it takes a toll on you, too. I encourage you to find someone to talk to. Your frustrations won’t disappear and your depressed partner won’t have the strength to listen to your complaints.)

I have talked openly about my postpartum depression to anyone willing to listen and I will continue to do so. I’m so appreciative to everyone who leant an ear and to my fellow sufferers who commiserate(d) with me. Depression is a terrible disease. Please do everything you can to REMOVE THE STIGMA! Finding the right people to talk to can be exhausting. They are out there! I’ve met many of them, so please reach out if you want some recommendations.

And a special thanks to Nikki for showing me compassion, kindness, and love and reminding me that feeling okay is NOT good enough. Life is wonderful and beautiful and if it doesn’t feel like it, find someone, something or some medicine that can help you to see the beauty. YOU ARE WORTH IT! ️

P.S. Please never tell a depressed person to get outside or try changing their diet. I promise they’re doing the BEST they can. Also, those steps won’t get the job done. Trust me, I tried.

I received an outpouring of love and support. One friend wrote me a private message almost immediately. She is a mother of two and had spent the past seven months feeling as though she was just floating through life. My post inspired her to call a doctor and seek help. She also told me that my social media life looked so perfect and that she thought she was alone in her depression. Sharing my story reminded her that our social media personas aren’t a true reflection of reality.

After I responded to her, it hit me: I am part of the problem. Posting falsities perpetuates the idea that we are all happy all the time, and if you aren’t happy, something is wrong with you. I spent my first eight months of motherhood going through the motions. I knew the things I used to like, so continued to do those things. I went hiking, I went to happy hour with friends, I went to the park, I went to concerts, I went on bike rides, I went skiing and I smiled for pictures. I did all the things you are supposed to do to stay healthy in mind and body. I laughed with my child and husband. I snuggled my dog.

All the while, I was slowly suffocating. Seven months after giving birth, I stopped breastfeeding. Almost immediately my depression hit incredible depths. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t feed my child. I couldn’t change his diaper. I couldn’t shower. Going outside was painful. I went to the doctor assuming something was wrong with my thyroid. They did blood tests, and my general practitioner suggested I might have postpartum depression. I argued.

As I walked out of the doctor’s office, the depths of my depression hit me like a brick wall. I couldn’t breathe properly. I went home and laid on the couch and didn’t move for what felt like years. My husband was distraught. He didn’t know how to handle it. We had plans to do a backcountry hut trip with our son. I told him I couldn’t handle it. However, he thought it was good for me to get outside. I protested. I didn’t have the energy. But ultimately, I complied.

There I was in the passenger seat with my adoring husband driving me to the mountains on an immaculate blue-sky day. My happy-go-lucky son in the back seat. I had EVERYTHING going for me, and all I could think about was jumping out of the car and into the path of an oncoming semi. Just two hours later, as we made our way to our hut my husband took a picture of me and my son with ear-to-ear smiles.

When I returned from the trip, I made it my Facebook profile picture and it stayed there for over a year. I love that picture. It shows me in what should be my element: hiking in the beautiful snowy mountains with my joyful baby on my back.

But that photo is a farce. I have since allowed myself to reflect on that day. It is the day that I nearly ruined the lives of all the wonderful people in my life. They say a picture tells 1,000 words, but in the age of social media, we, the subject, control the message those pictures express. That photo told my friends and family that I was living life to the fullest, that I had my crap together, that I was one lucky lady.

But the truth behind the photo is that I am very good at hiding my pain. I have never posted a photo with the intention of lying to my friends and family. I just didn’t want to believe my reality. I was lying to myself as much as anyone else.

I was fortunate to find my way out of the darkest time of my life. I feel an obligation to own my missteps. Sure, I was doing everything I could to survive and I don’t necessarily feel I owed anyone my honesty, but there is healing in sharing your truth. I owe it to myself to help #removethestigma. You aren’t alone, I’m not alone. We deserve more.

It can be easy to look at your friends’ social media lives and assume they are doing better than you. But please remember, we are all doing the best we can and our Facebook smiles are just a fraction of the emotions we feel from day to day.

I encourage you to share your sadness and ask for help. The moment I asked for help, my life turned around — not right away, but every day got a little better, and I can honestly say, I feel better today than I have ever felt. I love being a mom, business owner, and friend to so many wonderfully supportive women.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or contact Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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