Struggle with depression a lifetime battle

By Ian Neligh
Posted 10/19/10

“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”

— Anonymous

The above quote holds special meaning for Evergreen resident Amy Nixon. Nixon …

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Struggle with depression a lifetime battle


“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
— Anonymous

The above quote holds special meaning for Evergreen resident Amy Nixon. Nixon uses those words every day to help her cope with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
She interprets the quote to mean: If you want to feel different, you’ve got to get up and do something or go somewhere. That’s better than sitting at home, being afraid and anxious, and crying.
Nixon says her life today is not a bed of roses, but it’s a far cry from 12 years ago, when she tried to commit suicide by shooting herself in the chest.
Nixon is telling her story in hopes that she might help one person who is having suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not the answer, she says; getting professional treatment is.
For people contemplating suicide, Nixon says she’d tell them: “You’re not alone. There are other people out there like you. You can reach out for help.”
Nixon described depression as being in the bottom of a long, dark well. There’s no way to climb out; you’re alone in the dark, and you’re afraid, lonely and scared. People who have never been depressed can’t begin to understand the depths of that despair, she said.
For those who know people who are severely depressed and may be contemplating suicide, she’d tell them: “Be supportive and kind; try to understand. Get as much information as you can so you can understand better. Most people just can’t understand (severe depression). That’s why (someone who is suicidal) feels so alone, because there’s nobody who can understand.”

Depression runs deep
Nixon says depression runs in her family, and as a psychiatric nurse, she’s had her share of stories about patients.
After a career as a Navy and Veterans Administration nurse in several states, she took a job on a psychiatric ward at Denver’s VA hospital. A patient attacked her, and her anxiety reached the point where she could no longer work.
“I look back, and I was stressed very badly,” said Nixon, 54. “I was raising kids, working, living in Evergreen and commuting to Denver. My daughter played competitive softball, and I was going through a divorce. I think I was very unhappy and very stressed. The attack was the icing on the cake, now looking back on it.”
She was under a psychiatrist’s care for depression and suicide, taking medicine and receiving up to 40 electric shock treatments to try to erase her short-term memory. Nothing helped, and when her doctor said the electric shock treatments would increase from one to two a week, that was the last straw.
“I made up my mind that was it. I was useless, it was hopeless, there was no way out. I couldn’t live that way anymore,” she said. “I’m not going to be going twice a week for shock treatments.”
She said her background where you were taught to be independent and pull yourself up by your bootstraps was at war with her inability to cope.
She doesn’t remember the exact date that she shot herself. That’s all a blur. She planned her death while her husband was at a restaurant. He came back before she was ready, so she pulled the trigger — and missed her heart.
When she woke up, hospital staff told her she was lucky to have survived.
“But I didn’t consider it lucky. I missed every major organ and vessel,” Nixon said. “I figured, as time went on, there must be a reason I’m still here.”

Staying alive
Nixon says she’s still searching after 12 years to find out why she’s alive. She has limited use of her left hand as a result of the bullet wound above her heart.
“I got into stained-glass-making. I like making this to give to people because it makes me feel good to make people happy,” she said. She also makes jewelry and cards.
In the last two years, she’s found a drug therapy that helps with the depression, and she gets out to take yoga and Jazzercise classes, and for Bible-study and stained-glass classes. She loves taking nature photographs.
Even though her arm is a constant reminder of a much darker time, Nixon says that she tries to think positive.
“I feel blessed that I have what I have. I can make jewelry. It takes me a long, long time, but I’m a very patient person.”


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