I’m beginning a new category for current issues that touch my heart.
I’ve written about suicide a few times. It’s been near to my heart for many years… and for many reasons. Maybe I should begin at the beginning… with my own story.
(Edited to add: Before I do, please note the ***trigger warning*** for suicidal ideation.)
I was a depressed and anxious ADHD kid. I bit my nails until they bled, wanted everyone to love me and emotionally crashed over and over again when they didn’t. I had a massive heart for animals and a need for risk to match it.
I was the child that swam beyond the waves in the ocean, climbed and dove from the highest places I could find, could be found on rooftops and along the block walls that meandered through the neighbors yards, rode my bike miles away from home (and my asthma inhaler) by myself, and crawled under the house with the spiders to get away from the stresses of 8-year-old life.
When I headed into young adulthood, it was the 70’s baby, and I was a disco dancin’ fool, waking up in places I didn’t recognize, sometimes with a virtual stranger next to me. Not “virtual” like “cyber” … “virtual” like “hey, didn’t we meet 4 hours ago at the dance club?”.
HIV and AIDS weren’t heard-of yet. A round of antibiotics would take care of other ickies one might encounter… like say, from a truck driver just passing through who stopped for a workout at the gym and said I was pretty. Oh, wait. Er, I meant: Speaking hypothetically. It happened to some girl I knew.
It’s amazing I lived to 20, let alone 59.
Off-and-on throughout the years, I wanted to die. It was depression. Or anxiety. Or humiliation. Guilt and shame. Feeling unloved, ignored, overlooked. Or bigger-than-life, humongous, too “out there.” There were a million reasons.
The thing about me was… I didn’t want to pull the trigger or slit my wrists. I wanted an airplane to fall from the sky, like in Donny Darko. Or maybe, I might fall off the curb… in front of a car… by accident, you know. Consequently, I never considered myself suicidal.
It was the year of numb or searing pain – interchanging. Never-ending.
There were days I slept until 2pm. Sometimes, I cleaned myself up. Other times, not. It was a chore to brush my teeth. I went to the doctor in tears, begging her to help me. She gave me more meds and sent me home.
My husband reminded me that there was a psych program through the region that I could refer myself to… and so I called. At my first visit, I showed up with unwashed hair, a toque, sweats and snow boots, even though it hadn’t snowed for days. I felt like I was walking through sludge. All the time. Every day. I tried to talk to my friends. They didn’t understand. My closest friend decided I was too much trouble and dumped me. My husband, bless his heart, hated leaving me during the day and yet, probably felt a sense of relief that he could get away for a few hours.
The emotional pain was unceasing, along with physical pain in my back, my knees and my ass, which was aching from spending so much time in bed.
I couldn’t bring back my dead ex-husband. I couldn’t cure our daughter of cancer. I couldn’t keep our son from trying to kill himself again, which he was talking about since his dad had just died suddenly. I was 4000 miles from my new grandson… and all of them. Then, I threw away my dream job with cats because I clearly wasn’t in my right mind. My closest friend was gone, as I already mentioned. My husband, who has always been important, became my everything. As in EVERYthing. The weight of me and my problems was very heavy for both of us.
I couldn’t take care of myself in any way, shape or form. The toolbox was empty. All that was left was pain.
And this is the center of the suicide maze.
All you want is for the pain to end. Suicide feels like the last tool in the healing toolkit.
People who hit this point have tried everything else. Even if you don’t think they have. Even if you don’t understand. Even if they haven’t done what you’d have done.
I don’t know Kate or Anthony… not personally. I didn’t know Robin Williams. But I know myself. And I know my son, who attempted twice and lived. What was going through his mind?
MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP
Onlookers and those left behind sometimes say it is a selfish act. Or cowardly. I have read comments from mothers who wonder how Kate Spade could leave her daughter behind. My guess: She thought her daughter would be better off without her. It has been, at times, what I’ve thought. My son told me it was what he thought, too. It seems kind of universal to people who have hit the wall.
Mental Illness and suicide ideation is HUGE. Much more than I can cover in a blog post. But I hope sharing my story has been helpful to you. I’d like to leave a couple of links, also, that I’ve found interesting and helpful.
If you’re interested in learning more about what drives this kind of decision, this link has a fantastic set of suicide survivor stories: LIVE THROUGH THIS
In USA: Mental Health America In Crisis? Call 1-800-273-TALK