Would you rather be touched by fire – or ice?

This week was suicide prevention week. It occurred to me that for all the mental health awareness there is in the world, it still seems lost on the people that you want most to love and support you … your family. For the life of me, I cannot understand it.  Ive seen my own family reeling from a suicide, all of us asking ourselves what we could of done differently and wondering where we went wrong, regretting not reaching out sooner or more often. 

Yes, it’s too late to change anything about  those who were lost to the depths of depression along their own life’s path, but, No, you do not get to ever go back to being naive to the darkness which swallowed them. Please remember, you cannot forget.

What about the ones who have grappled with the depths of despair that are still among us? 

Maybe in your truth, you see this as a consequence, but  for what exactly? Being touched by fire? Do we deserve to be burned? And if the opposite of this is you…are you touched  by ice?

Seems like a zero sum game. 

Perhaps we could just trust each other to pay attention to our own truth. I’ll stay out of yours, you stay the hell out of mine? Maybe family could learn to treat other relatives with slightly more dignity than a complete stranger? 

Is that the best we can do? 

That saddens me, but then again what do I know, I’m the sick one …

                                                   right?

So I kept living 

On this night last year, at just about this time the lying bastard that depression is got me in the corner and beat the hell out of me. 

I didn’t want to feel anymore, didn’t think I could. I was ready to find a peaceful dream…just fall asleep and let the pain fall away. With a handful of sleeping pills and another of pain pills, I made an attempt. 

I penned the following note to my children:

You both are a dream come true. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved you. I know that may not seem like a lot right now, but with all my heart with every fiber of my being I have prayed over your lives, for your very existence. I dreamed you to life. I know I have failed you miserably. I hate myself for it. I hate that I have given you less than you deserve in life. That I was too young and ignorant to pick a better father for you. You both deserved better than that. NONE of it is your fault. It is mine alone. I could never forgive myself for that. Today would have been Chris and I’s 15th anniversary had we remained married. I was never strong enough to leave him, always stuck in codependence but I had to be strong enough for you. The stakes got too high. Please know that you were planned and dreamed and hoped for and so very loved. Please know that. It is not a lack of love but my own weaknesses, my failing mind, spirit and body that I do not want to burden you with any further. I want you to be free of me and my inadequacy. Please believe me when I say that there have been countless days that the only reason I went on was for just the  you. I just couldn’t anymore. My heart and soul were beyond saving and repair and there is no one to blame for that. It was a seamless stretch of circumstances with no bounds in which I was buried by hopelessness. I am tired and have nothing left to offer in this shell. I only have my love and guidance which I pray I am given enough of Gods grace to allow me to  protect you from my poor choices and mistakes from a distance, but allows you to know Im always with you. You are my life, my legacy. You must go on and be the change this world desperately needs. The light that casts away darkness as you always did in my heart. You alone are enough just as you are. You always have been and always will be. Love and carry one another to the finish line. Ill be watching. Ill be the biggest fan of your lives. 

I love you. 

Please forgive me. 


After that is mostly a blur…

A phone call came through despite my phone being on “do not disturb”. On the other end, an angel. 

There were police and paramedics. 

An ambulance ride. 

Saying: “I fucked up. I don’t want to die”

In and out of consciousness. 

A hospital transfer. 

Conversations I couldn’t stay conscious throughout. 

I lost days but not my life. 
A year later, I find that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. 

I have to keep finding that strength on my own. 

So I kept living. 

My child thinks they might be gay

Well, 2015 isn’t messing around.

Jan 2nd and just as Im about to lay down my sleepyhead and dose off I get this text to my phone:

Mom what if Im gay or bisexual

As fate would have it, having several LGBT friends and family members and living in Ohio, most of my newsfeeds this week have been largely about Leelah Alcorn. I was rendered frozen hand to mouth the first time I heard about the suicide. Having experienced a suicide as a family member, I am instantly taken back to the gut wrenching heartache that follows. My heart hurt for this young life lost, the potential stolen and the family.

It has started an important conversation. One that I hope every parent stops to have. What do you do if/when your child comes out to you? I don’t know that you can ever fully prepare yourself for it. However, Just as we prepare our children for potentially awkward conversations, we need to prepare ourselves. There are moments and words and decisions that we can never get back.

I am convinced that there is really only one right response and it’s remarkably easy to arrive at. No matter what your background, beliefs, race, gender, sexuality et cetera because it’s etched on our hearts and every fiber of our being the moment that child is placed in our arms.

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Bullies just don’t happen

Parents: This is on us. Our kids are sponges that absorb everything around them. Love, support, judgment, hate. The next time your within earshot of your child and you decide to release your opinions about a co-worker, a family memeber, someone on TV, the drive-thru worker, the president, conseratives, liberals, Ferguson, Tamir Rice…they are listening. Until we make compassion and solidarity a priority, this will continue.

The time I lost my mind

Just over 2 weeks ago, the day after Mother’s Day to be exact, I drew a glass of water and set it next to a bottle of pills. I was done.

I had simply had enough of everything I do in life being futile, taking the high road only for it to bite me in the ass while the low life, pieces of shit seem too multiply in numbers daily and always seem to come up smelling like roses. It’s sickening.

Im sick of watching my kids hurt and to be sincerely helpless in curing what ails them. There’s something seriously fucked up about your kids’ “father” (I am using that term VERY loosely) walk out of their lives to avoid child support and drug testing. Even more so…trying to find words to comfort your 11year child cope with his best friend being terminally ill with cancer? Simply unfathomable.

I cant process it but somehow a semi supportive babble finds its way out of my mouth to this young man’s mother, whom I have developed a very close, personal relationship with. My husband has befriended the Dad. We go to the hospital and treat them to a meal in the cafeteria or sit during chemo, where my jedi being this amazing, other-worldly creation who gets in the over-sized hospital bed, where no kid should occupy, next to his friend, reading letters from classmates, playing video games….

And if none of this was enough, I lost a baby and the majority of eye sight. Enough. Who is this God who will never give us more than we can handle? Why can’t I get my shit together and suck up when this boy’s Mom, she’s a tower of strength?

How any higher power found it fitting to grace me with a baby, only to decide it wasnt meant to be after all the down in the muck, bullshit I’ve been through, OH! and then slap me with a life altering disability which rendered me unemployed and completely co-dependent on others is just…beyond words. Watching the horror of this cancer ravaging a child’s body…no words.

Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I, ME, would ever come remotely close to a suicidal thought, much less developing a plan and acting on one I would’nt have believed it, but then this world had always been too cruel and my heart too tender. Long ago, before….well I had considered suicide to be the most cowardly, selfish way out, but Ive gotta say that in my mind that day, in my nightgown at 2pm, eyes bloodshot from crying all day and my trembling hand holding that glass of water, I believed in my heart of hearts that I was a burden to my family and that they would be better off without me.
THAT IS CRAZY! It is. I know it is. Killing myself would destroy my husband and kids, and my Jedi…that is the most horrific thing I keep thinking about now.  How the hell I arrived at this conclusion is a really good question, but one I may never be able to offer any reasonable explanation for.

It really is a miracle that I turned and walked away. I have a sneaking suspicion that my Uncle was the angel on my shoulder that made the difference. He committed suicide two years ago this fall. Im convinced he too was trapped in error thinking that made him feel his own disabling condition rendered him a burden to his wife and that he was relieving her from a burden she would not otherwise walk away from. What a lie!! Everything that happened after his death was nothing he would ve wanted for her, the love of his life.

Just like him the issue in my case isnt a lack of fulfillment or love. I have a wonderful husband. Honestly, the man should be nominated for sainthood. He calls me beautiful when Im in sweats and no makeup, he whole-heartedly loves “our” children as our children, he’s a good man who I adore and am completely devoted to. My beautiful children, my world, are the most precious, delightful people I have had the great privelege of not only knowing, but raising and watching become AH-MAZING, productive, well-adjusted wonders. You see it wasnt that they werent good enough for me, I didnt feel worthy of them.

(sigh)

My husband found me locked in our bedroom, balling my eyes out. To say he was scared for me is a severe underestimate. He spoke to my doctor and they both convinced me to go to the ER to be checked out. I was admitted. After talking with a psychiatrist at length, it was determined that the combo of medication a neurologist had prescribed to aide with the severe eye pain which accompanied my vision loss, migraines and “consequential depression” was what actually pushed me into this emotional breakdown.

As I have known for awhile, I get manic and guess what? Manic AND depressive people need different medications than tranditionally depressed people! (Oh, and its not manic depressive anymore, its just bipolar or bipolar II in my case, but nobody wants to say that because people will think they’re crazy. Just FYI.) What ensued from that AHA! moment was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced, withdrawl.

oh.         My.       GAWD.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AND THE FOLLOWING IS NOTHING MORE THAN MY OWN OPINION AND EXPERIENCE.
I had mind altering migraines and electrical shocks that corsed through my whole head, down my spine and extremities. I had terrifying dreams and waking nightmares, nausea, dizziness and the worst body aches EVER. My joints, muscles and skin hurt. I literally hurt to the touch, which made it very difficult to sit, sleep…anything, everything hurt. That’s pretty much all I remember of the first five days.

After 8 days, I was properly medificated (yes, thats my word) and discharged into a partial hospitalization therapy program. Its all group based which has been difficult for me. I either feel like I need to help save everyone after hearing their stories or feel much more depressed. I guess the one big positive is that everyone comes from different walks of life with different problems, but we’re all there and we’re not alone.

(You’re not alone. If you or someone you know needs help, please call: 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Let your story TO BE CONTINUED, not THE END)

Antifreeze

I’ll never understand why he did it.

I’ll never understand how he went out and bought an anniversary card for his wife. Went home and underlined all the sentimental parts that spoke to his heart most – especially the ones about spending the rest of their lives together. Planning an anniversary dinner that would never come.

I’ll never understand what on Earth could possess him to pour himself a cup of antifreeze the following day and write that note. I don’t know how he ever reasoned in his mind that the best gift he could give his wife, after 28 years of marriage, was to take his own life.

I’ll never know how she felt when she awoke in the middle of the night to that thud on the floor and to find him frothing at the mouth in a full seizure, but I can imagine that ambulance ride seemed to take hours. Those 12 hours of not knowing what was happening, almost losing him, watching the doctors revive him…only to be told that he had meant for this to happen…that there was antifreeze in his system and that it wasn’t accidental.

I’ll never forget walking into the waiting room and the way she looked the first time I saw her or walking down the corridor to ICU and seeing him for the first time. His body was completely swollen. He looked like he had been in boxing match. His body was being ravaged. The dialysis machine was exceptionally quiet for the task it was attempting to perform – ridding his body of a poison that would constantly crystalize and expand in his system. His kidneys were failing. He was in a coma. When I heard them say what  he was going  through and what we would experience as his family watching him over the next few days would be horrible… I understood the words, but horrible soon became an understatement. We all took turns sitting with her, sleeping in the waiting room, walking down to the room, holding his hand, talking to him, begging him to fight, trying to stir him to wake up. Eventually, his eyes would open but there was nothing behind the eyes. Then he started to move his entire body with his eyes open, but nobody was home. It was literally like watching the living dead.

I have never felt so many emotions at once in my entire life. Sorrow, hope, anger, confusion, love. I know she felt that way too. I’ll never forget her telling me that she didn’t know how to handle the outcomes. She didn’t know how to handle if he died and she didn’t know how to handle if he lived – because he didn’t want to. He had promised her he wouldn’t ever do this to her after her sister-in-law committed suicide six months ago. He would never put her thorough this pain, but now he had.

We all just couldn’t comprehend it. There just had to be another explanation. It just didn’t make any sense. But all that denial would wash away when she found the note – the explaination that would answer none of the questions we will all have for the rest of our lives. Like how can a man whose whole life was about family and love possibly end with such a contradiction of selfishness and pain? How could he do this to her? Theirs was a love story for the ages – and this – this was the ending? It’s beyond cruel. I know it happened but I still can’t fathom it all – for her.

The doctors explained about as gracefully as one can that the antifreeze has damaged his brain and would continue to damage his brain. The front part of your brain controls your motor functions so that was why he was still moving around and his eyes were open, but his CT scan should considerable dark mass and fluid on the brain. He most likely was blind. He would only further decline. If he did survive he would likely be in a nursing home for the rest of his life. And so it came to this cruel moment…after all of this, she ultimately had to decide whether to discontinue his medical treatment. When dialysis stopped…the antifreeze would further crystalize and his organs would begin to fail. She said she couldn’t hold on to him just to be able to kiss him on the cheek and so…it was time to learn to let go.

He was discharged from the hospital 11 days later to hospice. On his last day, his only granddaughter came to see him and told him that he could let go. His wife crawled into his hospital bed with him and fell asleep with her husband one last time. She woke up in the early morning hours and the nurses told her that he had passed away. This was the most peace she had experienced since this unbelievable nightmare began 17 days ago…the day before their 28th wedding anniversary. It wouldn’t last long.

The coroner arrived and went into investigation mode. This is what happens with a crime and suicide is a crime. Now, this newly widowed woman is being told that her deceased husband’s body is evidence and will be autopsied. She doesn’t have a choice. They need the original suicide note – his last words to her are now evidence. The police show up, there is questioning, she’s exhausted…mentally, physically…emotionally, this is all too much. And then the coroner tells her that the “official toxicology report” will not be complete for six weeks and so the county will not issue a death certificate until that time. This means that any funds she may have been entitled to, after being disqualified for much because of the suicide, as a widow are now in limbo and she has no idea how to pay for the funeral, how she is going to pay her mortgage or other bills. After all – she has been by his side for over two weeks, without pay. And it goes on….

Preparing for the funeral, going through pictures of my Uncle as a little boy with my grandmother, sister and aunt, just broke my heart. As a mother, I could only imagine the pain of losing a child. The thought that I could someday be pouring over pictures for one of my son’s funeral was too much for me to bear. I had to retire for the night. I cried myself to sleep thinking of my grandmother’s loss as a mother and for my Aunt, because as a wife of only 2 years of marriage to my husband – I could not imagine her pain.

The funeral home was filled. Again, the questions…how could a man so beloved arrive at this? Why didn’t he call any one of these people? What was he thinking? When they asked people to stand up and speak you almost wanted to stand up and scream: “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!”

I’ll never understand. It’s been a month since his funeral and I still think about it everyday. I can’t stop wondering…what if he had gone one more day?

My Uncle had had some medical problems and thus, difficulty working and financial implications. His boss was not an understanding fellow. He had made things increasingly difficult for my Uncle. The day that  my Uncle committed suicide, he was to attend a manager’s meeting with this boss but he couldn’t bear to go. His boss was fired at that meeting, which literally changed A LOT. So, if he had held on one more day …

The only thing I have taken away from this is that you never know what tomorrow will bring. You’re going to have peaks and see valleys in life, but the thing that could change everything could literally be a day away. You have to hold on for one more day – everyday. Keep the faith.

However my Uncle had worked this out in his head – I assure you he would not have wanted it to turn out like this. But that’s how darkness works. It lies and depression is darkness’ greatest tool and when you’re at your darkest place it dangles what seems like the solution in front of you and it turns out to be the biggest departure from who you are and what you wanted to be to your family. My Uncle was a proud man and there was no way he wanted to be in the condition he was in and for my Aunt to suffer the way she is now. He couldn’t know that she would blame herself and wonder if she had done this or if she had done that would there have been a different outcome. Absolutely, never would my Uncle want that. If his note was any indication, he did this to spare her any more hardship – and it had the exact opposite effect.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I realized that this means that I have now seen every possible way to commit suicide attempted and gone completely awry.

It is not the answer. It is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem which just means – don’t do it.

The last time I saw my Uncle he hugged me hello and when I went to pull away to quickly … he pulled me back and he said,

“No, stay here, just let me love you.”

I assure you that whoever you are and wherever you’re at in life – someone loves you enough to meet you there and help you live.

You just have to stay here and let people love you.

Dark – Feb 22, 2006

I’m lost in something right now that I can’t quite explain, bt I had this complete feeling of hopelessness this afternoon. I felt like the world was coming down around me and the only way out was, well the only way out.

I actually thought to myself that I was going to cut my wrists. I envisioned myself doing it. What I would use, what it would feel like. All the blood around me.

I felt completely alone.

I crumbled to the floor, pulled at my hair and broke into a sob.

I realize people have faced worse. That is what gets me out of it, sometimes I just really want to surrender. I don’t want to be responsible for anything or what will happen when I’m gone.

I want all of this to be someone else’s burden.