Notes on Suicide

Here it is, I’ve barely had a few sips of my morning coffee and I get the alert that world famous chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain has died, and by suicide no less. This comes days after we’ve received report that famed handbag designer and lifestyle maven Kate Spade had taken her own life. Everyone comes forward with their stories, their sympathies, and their criticisms. Many people are absolutely baffled as to how someone, especially someone with a seemingly good life, could be so anguished and so selfish as to take their own life and leave loved ones behind. I’ve come to learn and accept that there really is no good way to explain it in a way that people who haven’t been in the throes of it can really understand. I know this, because I was there at one point in my life.

Years ago, I suffered from immense depression, to the point where I was suicidal. I would spend hours crying, thinking of ways to end my life, wanting to make sure that I got it right because the last thing I needed was to botch my own suicide and go through life knowing that I couldn’t even get that right. Every day was an internal battle between the two mes. One side was lucid and logical. The other side was in PAIN, anguished, irrational, violent. These sides battled all the time. The logical side argued that suicide was not the answer, that there would be people who missed me, that my mother would hurt, that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The pained side argued that it was my life and my body, that others didn’t have to walk in my skin, that I would be doing everyone a favor if I wasn’t around and that it wasn’t worth it having so many people see me in such a pathetic state and they couldn’t help me because they were getting tired of it. They didn’t understand. They really didn’t understand.

I had been receiving counseling, but all I was told was basically to practice diaphragmatic breathing. I was prescribed TWO antidepressants, Zoloft and Wellbutrin, which combined made me absolutely numb. I felt like a Stepford, like I was floating outside of my body and had no control over my own faculties. My employer (I shall not name) accused me of malingering, which was made worse when the medication sent me from down in the dumps to cloud nine, so things became difficult there. My work was unfulfilling and the hours were irregular, and any attempt to move into something perhaps more agreeable was rejected. I was alone and away from family, with virtually no friends, thanks to the machinations of a sociopathic boyfriend. There really was nowhere to turn, I felt imprisoned.

The break came when I showed up to a doctor’s appointment and the physician asked me how I was doing. I broke down and admitted that I miserable and I wanted to hurt myself, which set the wheels in motion. I was transported to a medical facility with a mental health ward, and I admitted myself. I spent three days there until someone from my job came to help me check out. Even when I returned, I was held at arm’s length, like I was broken and dangerous, someone nobody knew what to do with nor wanted to be bothered with. That incident facilitated the end of my career as I knew it.

Even my mother, with all her infinite love, wisdom, and patience could not fully understand what I was trying to explain  to her when I described my thought process. May people don’t. They also don’t understand just how much they exacerbate the problem when they try to get the person to “snap out of it”, when they tell them to stop thinking about themselves and start worrying about other people, when they tell the person that maybe what they should do is stop paying attention to themselves and focus on doing for others. Tell me, if you were drowning in the ocean, would you stop trying to stay afloat and try to help some dolphin caught in a net beside you? If someone was in traction after getting hit by a car, would you tell them to simply get up and walk because they’re not trying hard enough? No, you wouldn’t.

I know, we love to say “It’s not all about you”, but honestly, sometimes if is. You have to focus on trying to make yourself whole and well before you can do anything else. We also have to accept the distinct possibility that the person may NOT make it through. If a person is truly committed to taking their own life, they WILL find a way and there is nothing anyone can do about that. And even if a person does make it out to the other side and seems to get well, there is a chance that they will descend back into the darkness. I know I do sometimes. It’s like a Dementor hovering over you, stealing your joy, your will to live. Even to this day, I am overcome on occasions. I go back to thinking about how to end it, I make sure that my life insurance policy has a good enough amount of money to last my kids at least until the age of majority. It’s a constant battle, and it’s exhausting, and what none of those like me need is someone reducing our struggle to selfishness and weakness. We don’t need the guilt trips or lectures. We don’t need the stigma.

Now, I’ve gotten this off my chest. Thanks.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

I’m Glad Somebody Said It!

I got this lovely little New York Times article from another wonderful mommy blog, Northshore Parent and I felt I had to say this- “It’s about damn time!” I speaks about the “Wine Mommy” culture that seems to have permeated our ranks. I thought I was the only one who cringed at the “Mommy Needs Wine” memes and this entire culture centered around drinking wine as the only way to unwind and cope with motherhood. I am SO not that mom. I have never been that mom.

I am the type of mom that will let a bottle of Stella Artois sit in her refrigerator for eight months because I just never have the compulsion to drink it. I wince when people try to ply me with a bottle of wine or cranberry and vodka in order to get me to join in on a bitch session. I’d much rather just have the cranberry juice. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I can’t drink to feel numb or to forget. Drinking just serves to amplify whatever misery I’m feeling, and who needs the hassle of waking up with a hangover, although I have a pretty effective way of combatting a hangover, it’s the managing to fall asleep without having to roll off the bed and crawl on hands and knees to pray to the porcelain god that’s the bitch.

The question is, where DO moms like me go to cope and unwind where there isn’t alcohol involved? Everywhere you look, there’s an event for women where wine is stressed. Paint, sip. Make a wicker basket, sip. Walk your dog, sip. Read, sip. Jog, sip. Smile, sip. Ugh!  Oh, and let’s not get started on all the creative little novelty items they’ve come up with to enable this habit. The bendable silicone wine glasses, the lawn wine glasses, the wine reservoir bra? Really? Is it THAT serious? I look at those and wonder of the people that buy them, “What must your life be like?”

I think all this begs the question, what is it that has brought us, women especially, to this?  Is it boredom? Is it a sort of peer pressure? Is it this deep-seated depression that many of us are suffering that we’re not addressing? We’re supposed to be amongst friends in these settings, why can’t we talk it out? We’re not in high school. We’re not in college, at least not those early binge drinking, sorority pledge years of college anyway, then why are we acting like this? We shouldn’t be corking our emotions like this. We’re supposed to be “liberated”. We need to free ourselves from this debilitating habit as well.