Have you ever contemplated suicide? Do you feel hopeless, unmotivated, and disconnected from the world around you? Do you believe you can turn a bad situation around?

You are Adam.


National Institute of Mental Health

A Face Project EP 11

Daniel Zamzow (story)
Nctrnm (episode)


[0:00] Adam’s thoughts on things getting better
[2:10] Natalie introduces AFP and opens the show
[3:15] Suicide & depression might not be appropriate for kids, depending on their age
[3:45] NIMH is a good resource if you think you may be depressed
[4:45] Major signs & symptoms of depression from NIMH
[6:15] If this subject resonates, listen to Chris, EP 11
[8:00] Adam’s story begins
[9:30] Adam’s childhood neighbor and the abuse surrounding that household
[11:15] Adam describes his self-destructive behaviors
[11:45] Adam never revealed to his parents his trigger
[12:45] Adam accepts depression as part of who he is despite marriage and a new life
[13:40] Adam realized
[15:00] Divorce
[16:30] Depression gets worse
[17:25] Just before suicide
[19:00] I can kill myself tomorrow
[20:45] Adam starts church and things improve
[22:00] Adam gets married again
[23:45] I’m a stronger person, I can help others
[27:12] Final thoughts


Read Full Transcript

Yeah, so my name’s Adam Cline from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I came from a pretty good family. They always treat me well. We lived kind of in a rough neighborhood, so when I was kindergarten, somebody was killed on our front yard, stabbed to death. I didn’t actually see the murder, but I saw some of the aftermath of it and it kind of really had a pretty big effect on just my outlook on life. My parents, realistically, kind of decided after that that it was probably time to move, so they loaded up the truck, and we ended up out into Prior Lake, which is kind of a suburb about half an hour south of Twin Cities. There was all just farmland and there weren’t a lot of people my age in the neighborhood, so I ended up becoming really good friends with somebody that lived about two or three houses down from me. I would go over and visit, and we’d hang out. He was a little bit of a troublemaker, but everybody at that age kind of was. We were probably about, probably starting around 10 years old or something like that.

He didn’t have quite the background that I did. He didn’t really have a loving family that I had. His parents were pretty abusive. They would abuse him when I was around. They would abuse him. He’d come over sometimes just to try to get away from them. His dad was just a complete monster. I don’t know what his background is, but that’s just the way that he acted. His mom was kind of a drunk and checked out all the time. Eventually one day, he had a sister, she had some developmental issues and one day I was over hanging out at his house and he was abusive towards her. Not to go into any of the gory details, but his … pretty bad. Pretty bad way to do her. I went home that night and I never talked to anybody about it. I was kind of in a state of shock just from being traumatized for what happened at his house that day.

While I never talked to him about it, I never hung out with him. We weren’t close after that. We weren’t friends after that. I didn’t go over to his house or anything like that, but I just put up a wall. I never told anybody. I didn’t tell anybody for years, but it still effected me. I had an incredible amount of guilt for not doing anything and I became really depressed as a result. I wasn’t interested in hurting other people but I was pretty in to hurting myself. I would hit myself with hammers or I would just take horrible risks. I got into a bunch of car accidents because I just wasn’t interested in stopping at stoplights sometimes or getting into drugs pretty heavily. I got arrested a couple of times. I even got a felony at one point. Nobody knew it was going on.

My parents knew something was going on and I was going in for psychiatric testing and I was on medication for a little bit but it didn’t do anything for me and I didn’t like it so I stopped. They didn’t know why. They didn’t know the background. They didn’t know what the trigger was. They were just thinking I was just another average depressed teenager. When I graduated, I found a perfect opportunity to get out. Get out of the situation, just get away from that neighborhood and just get away from that life and restart. I went up to college at the University of Minnesota downtown or whatever. I ended up marrying, getting married. Bought a house, got a job, going down the whole this is what you’re supposed to do with your life routine. It still affected me. I never dealt with it. I was still terribly depressed.

I thought at the time that, “Well, I’m just a depressed person.” At this point, I didn’t even think about the event that much anymore. At this point, it was just so ingrained into my personality that I was identifying as, “Well, I’m just a depressed person.” This is just the way that I am. Some people are like this. This is just the path that I’m on. This is who I am as a person. I thought, “Well, it’s victimless. It’s just me. I’m the one that’s being hurt by this.” Whatever. It’s my issue and if I want to deal with it or if I don’t, it doesn’t matter because it’s my thing and I didn’t think there was even a point in dealing with it because I thought that this is just who I was.

It did affect people. It affected my relationship. It affected how difficult it was to be married and to somebody who didn’t understand what was going on and it came to a head one year. She didn’t want to be with me anymore. We were going down different paths and it was one of things that we were looking at each other and we were like, “If we met today, we wouldn’t even be friends.” As much as she hated me, I hated myself worse. It didn’t work out. She left. This is the thing about depression. It’s like this weird internal … Every fiber of yourself is screaming out for just relief from this pain that you have no control over and it doesn’t really feel like there’s even really a source of it sometimes. It’s ingrained pain that just doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t fix anything. For me, I wasn’t working through anything. It was just kind of there. It’s not sadness.

It’s a completely different experience and emotion that will just destroy you from the inside. It’s absolutely oppressive. I moved and I got an apartment. It’s a couple blocks from the lake. It’s kind of a nice spot. I wanted to be around people. I didn’t want to be alone. My ego was gone. My identity was gone. All I had left was this abyss, this depression. Staring into it, I didn’t want to deal with it anymore and I thought well, there’s only one exit from this. I’m not going to miss anything. Look at my life. This is absolutely stupid and pointless and there was nothing that’s going to ever come good out of this. This is the person that I am and this is the way that I am and this is nothing that I’ll ever be able to escape from. This is an unwinnable situation.

I cleaned my apartment … I’d spend hour or two every night cleaning and it looked like a museum. It was so fancy and special and sparkly in there. It didn’t really help too much. Depression got worse. I hated my job, I hated my life. It seemed like everything was just over. One night, I decided I was going to kill myself. I was going to hang myself from the ceiling fan. I didn’t want to draw attention. I didn’t want to write a note. I just wanted to do it. I just wanted to get it done with and I just thought that this is just where it needs to go. It was in the spring and it was getting late at night. I remember pretty vividly. The sun was coming in and everything was kind of reddish. I got everything set up and I was laying on the floor just looking up at the fixture and just thinking well, this is it.

I was at peace with it. I was like, “Yeah. No. This is totally what I gotta do. I’m not even anxious about it. This is going to be the thing. This is the only real thing that I can do.” This is the part where people … You can have your own opinions about it but there was a voice in my head and it said to me, “You’re not here to fail,” which was something that my ex would always say to me. She would always be like, “The only thing you’re good at as failing. You’re never going to really do anything with your life. You just fail at things. That’s the only thing you’re good at.” This voice was different. It was saying, “You’re not here to fail.” I talked back to him. I’m like, “What are you talking about? That’s all I do is I fail.” Its response was, “Go to sleep and wake up tomorrow.”

I thought why not? I can kill myself tomorrow as easily as I can today. I got up off the floor and woke up the next day and I felt better. I was like, “Well, I guess I could kill myself today but let’s go into work instead.” I got on the bus and went to work. I want to say it was like the day after I was getting on the bus and going in to work and there was this girl that lived down the street to me and I’d talk to her a couple of times before on the bus. She invited me to church service that they were having and I thought, “Well, yeah. Yeah okay. I’ll do this.” I was thinking more about just the voice and how maybe this is a divine intervention or something like that. I don’t know what you’re not here to fail, but okay. We’ll try this out. I started to go and things started to get better. It wasn’t like it was overnight. It’s not like today I don’t have depression.

I started going to therapy and I started to really take a serious look at my past and all the things that I was guilty about. Everything that was going on in my life that just steamrolled out of an acclimation of baggage. It started to make sense and I started to grow as a person and today, yeah, I still get depressed but, I keep things in perspective. It’s not as bad and it’s shorter and I found different ways to deal with it so when things are going bad, I can handle it better. It’s like having a mental strength. A person can recover. I ended up two years ago being reacquainted with somebody from my past and we ended up getting married. I’m married again today. I have a house again. It’s better than it’s ever been. Better than I ever thought I would even imagine. My wife is pregnant right now and I think about all of this. Even little things in life. I had a really fantastic plum once that was just … I still think about it was the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s just the little things.

There’s so many things that are out there that you can find pleasure in. None of it would have been possible if I just phoned it in or if I just called it off. People can do it. It’s not an unwinnable situation. The pain that I went through at the time didn’t make any sense and the experiences that I had as much as they hurt and as much as I felt guilt about them were necessary and you think, what are you talking about you crazy bastard? That’s not necessary. Nobody should have to go through that kind of stuff. I feel like today I’m a stronger person. After going through it, I can help others. With the depression, for everybody that gets past it, they can be a champion for something else. Turn it to something positive. Go help somebody else. Go whatever. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing. Even just having empathy for somebody else. Even just being there to understand somebody else and understanding the pain that they go through. That has a value.

Do whatever it takes. Do whatever. If it helps, do it. I’m not going to say anything. If medication is your thing, do the medication. If it isn’t your thing, if you find something else that’s your thing, painting, go paint. Oh my God. Go paint. Do it. Do whatever works. There’s not a universal solution. If there’s a universal solution, it’d be easy. •