This will be the hardest piece I’ve ever written -- it is the piece I never wanted to write. It is the piece I’m scared will destroy me. But, it must be written as it is important and in some ways, eating me alive. I am not a therapist. I have no statistical studies for what I’m about to tell you. This is my experience, my story. That said, over the years, I’ve learned that I’m not that unique – I thought I was this crazy person who lived in a world no one understood. That’s not so. My willingness to be vulnerable – and go to therapy and group sessions – I’ve seen that I’m not so unique. With that knowledge, I share this hoping someone will feel less alone and that family and friends can see a bit more into the suicidal mind.
I’ll just lay it out for you – I’ve tried once (and now that I’ve opened this wound, I’ll give you all the details in another blog soon). I’ve planned and prepared three additional times. I’ve planned but not prepared countless times. As recently as 10 weeks ago, I sat on my deck with the Suicide Prevention number tapped into my phone. All I needed to do was hit call. So, yea, I’m qualified. Over-qualified.
A new show, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, aired recently. Excited because I love Jason Ritter, I tuned in without understanding the premise. I liked Jason Ritter, the commercials looked cute, that was enough for me to give it a try. The premise, though, punched me right in the gut. Kevin, you see, had tried to commit suicide and is now back in his hometown with his twin sister seeking a new path. Kevin is not a good person – he’s selfish, narcissistic, a jerk. Yet, he’s been tasked by the Godiverse to develop kindness and anoint 35 people to help save the world. Pretty quickly, I’m tense and hurting and worried and anxious and frightened – the unexpectedness of this topic hit me hard. In retrospect, maybe I should have turned the show off.
At one point in the show, he has angered his sister and she’s pretty much done with him. She’s been his champion and he just refuses to carry his end of the relationship. I won’t be able to quote her but basically she said … When you tried to kill yourself, I realized then that you don’t care about me. You only care about yourself.
My body went rigid, my throat closed, I reached toward my husband but did not touch him. This topic is raw for both of us. It is him who found me, rushed me to the ER, stood over me while charcoal was forced down my throat, watched as the police arrested me (it’s a crime in GA apparently) then loaded me in a paddy wagon.
I wondered if he felt the same way as Kevin’s sister. Did he think that my attempt at suicide was about me?
Kevin didn’t get the chance to defend himself – or he didn’t take the chance – so maybe he agreed or maybe he just couldn’t make her understand. Or maybe the writers of this show have no idea what they’re talking about.
Each and every time I’ve contemplated taking my own life, my over-riding emotion was “MY FAMILY WOULD BE BETTER OFF” – it was ALL about caring about them. Yes, sitting here today, feeling good and healthy, I see the error and flaw. I see that killing myself would harm my family greatly. BUT IN THE MOMENT, IN THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR, all I could see was the BURDEN I was. If I was gone – these are my thoughts in the darkness – my family would be better off financially, my children would no longer have to put up with a mother who changes personality with the waxing and waning of the moon, my husband could find a woman that provides peace and calm to his life. I was NOT thinking about me.
I understand that this is not the case for everyone who considers or completes a suicide attempt. But, I’ve spoken to lots of people who dip into the pits of despair and they are more like me – wanting to make life better for those they love. The logic is faulty, the results disastrous but the intention is to love our families in the best way we can at that moment in time. It’s a very dark place to be.
I think they are AWESOME, VITAL. Yet, I’ve never called one. Because when I believe that I will make my family better if I’m dead, I don’t want to be talked out of that. Does that make sense?
During the fight, I’ve never told anyone – I’ve never dialed a friend or my husband. You sit on the edge of the abyss, with thoughts like a runaway train and you believe that no one could understand. You know that you couldn’t even form a coherent explanation. You’d sound like the nut you believe yourself to be. So, I hold my breath and try to find some light.
Can I be honest? I’m not alive because I fought the fight and won. I’m alive because I’m chicken … afraid of pain or brain damage or being thrown into an institution with no rights (that’s what happened the one time I took the bottle of pills). I’m not alive because I’m strong. I’m alive because I’m weak. I’ve never said those words before.
I want to tell you how to handle a suicidal loved one. I want to give you a step-by-step rescue guide. I’m sorry, but I can’t. I don’t know what would have helped me in those times – you are utterly alone in that darkness – and at least for me, I sought isolation and used great excuses to obtain it (headache, tired, sick) … never once did I let on that I was lying in a pit of muck.
If you are worried about someone, pick up that phone, make that call. To them. To a crisis center. To a pastor. To someone who can enter into the darkness with the sufferer.
The sister’s comment in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World hurt me deeply. I wanted people to know that it’s more complicated than a deep, dark pity-party. And, if I’m totally honest, I was pissed off. I am pissed off.
Maybe my honesty will open the door for someone to tell the truth of their situation or seek help in the darkness. Maybe my honesty will allow family members to view this through a different lens – see at least a touch of selflessness rather than selfishness. Maybe my honesty will help me to heal a bit more. Maybe my honesty will get you to pick up a phone and find professional assistance.
If you want to ‘discuss’ this in more detail, you are welcome to email me directly via the website. I will hold your confidence completely. Please do not write to attack me – I can handle that all on my own.
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....