Three Pleas from a Suicidal Heart



I very nearly busted my guts tonight. I took my kids swimming with my sisters and their husbands while we waited for my husband to get off work. My sisters not only picked great husbands for themselves, but awesome uncles for my children. I laughed the hardest I have laughed in a long time as they took on various roles like sharks and lifeguards while interacting with my kids in the pool. Aaaand tried to get their wives to play chicken with each other. And on the way home, little girl and I belted out the songs on The Little Mermaid soundtrack like both of us were six. Wow. I found myself thinking how grateful I was for the feeling of joy that comes from pure fun. It felt so good.

And then I remembered why I was going home and quickly getting the kids to bed. It was so that I could write about a subject that's been on my mind and heart all week long. I wanted to believe that it wasn't necessary, wished that everybody could just go jump in a pool with their family and all the problems in the world would be solved.

But I was aware that not even an hour from my house a family I don't know personally is reeling after the death of their beautiful child from suicide. And I've been feeling the stirrings in my heart that make me feel like it's time to write about hard things.

So here we go.

*****

It was hard to read the obituary and not be moved, but the part that affected me most, surely written by his parents, said that someday they hoped to understand the hopelessness that had afflicted his spirit. For it was deep enough to cause him to end his life.

There are strong opinions on suicide, mostly that it is selfish and unwarranted. I shared most of them myself before my own severe bout with depression. I do not write to glorify suicide, but as another voice insisting that if we are going to be anything but powerless in keeping and bringing precious souls back from the edge, we have to be willing to talk about it. 

I have poured over photographs and journal entries from my life ten years ago and have condensed the thoughts they inspired into three pleas from a suicidal heart. They are directed towards any loved one, any trusted individual who has the power to reach out and help.

1. Please believe that it really is that bad. 

I was relieved the first time someone asked me if I was suicidal. It was my bishop. I lied and said I wasn't. But he had taken the scariest things that were going on in my mind and brought them out into the open. I was dying for someone to believe that it really was that bad, to not brush it off and try to cheer me up.

He wisely gave me his home phone, his work phone and his cell phone numbers and emphatically insisted that I not do anything drastic without calling him first. 

Without saying it directly, he had again insinuated that I was suicidal.

He had dared meet me on my scary level. 

It gave me the courage to think, maybe there was help. And in the coming weeks, I reached out and told a few other trusted adults that I was suicidal. I felt safe knowing they knew and felt them vigilantly watching me.

What a scary place for loved ones to go. How devastating to find out that someone you love is suicidal.

But even more painful to imagine is the thought of what could happen if you don't.

2. Please don't be disgusted with me. I understand I have so much to live for.

My blog made the newspaper a few months ago in an article on suicide. At the end of the article, someone commented: "Know that millions of others in this country, and the rest of the world for that matter, would gladly trade places with you. You have no reason to be so depressed you would even consider squandering the good fortune you have."

It's okay, friend, I used to think just like you. 

As I contemplated ending my life in those deepest, darkest moments, I was fully aware of all I had been so blessed to enjoy and, mentally ill or not, had always experienced heartache at the disparity in many other parts of the world. 

That was the worst part. 

Depression often brings with it intense feelings of guilt and impairs your thinking. It is common to have an over-inflated view of the effect of your actions. You truly begin to believe you are doing more harm than good by being here. You truly believe you are doing everyone a favor by stepping out. And you pray they'll understand.

Remembering all you have to be thankful for compounds your wretchedness and confirms just how badly you messed everything up.

3. Please tell me there is someone else who has felt this way.

One day I was having a conversation with a colleague in which we discussed our personal experiences with depression. I had been well for a year or two, but I found it therapeutic to talk to people who had suffered in similar ways as I had. We had made many connections as we shared stories. And then she said,

"But I never considered taking my life."

And then it was like when the computer zooms way out after having been centered on a specific spot on a map. And it took her with it. And I remembered the loneliness.

The kind of loneliness you can experience even in a crowded room. Full of people who love you.

Because I had very seriously considered taking my life. And even after recovering from my bout, decided to keep that little bit about being suicidal a secret. Because it's so frowned upon.

But now I understand my silence wasn't helping anybody.

Because here's the truth. Hard things happen to us in this life. And sometimes the mind and body's response is to go into a depression. And sometimes, one of the symptoms of a severe bout with depression is suicidal thoughts. 

It begins as a symptom. We've all had symptoms of one kind or another.

But it's not like you can see them coming like chicken pox. "Here comes the itching. Here come more spots." In many cases, you are not even aware what's happening to you. You just feel like you are transforming into someone you don't recognize. The real you has been obliterated and is never coming back. That's how you feel.

I have become tragically aware that I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS EVER FELT THAT WAY. These precious souls are everywhere. They pass us at the grocery store, at the gym, at school. Some can't pass us because they are crawled up in their beds and can't get out. And they are dying to know that they are not alone. That they have not created their own special brand of worthlessness but that there is hope. That THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE HOW IT ENDS. 

We spit the word suicide out like it's dirty. And I get it. There are not words to describe its devastating effects.  

But that means that we don't talk about it. And it picks up terribly negative stigma. So that people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts begin to believe that they have done something terribly wrong. 

The loneliness that comes from losing the will to live can suffocate you to death.

So let's bring it out of the darkness and talk about it.

*****
Should the momma or the dad who lost their boy this last week read this, from the depths of my heart I say I know there is nothing you wouldn't have done to save him. 

Why some are able to pull out and others don't and leave their families holding the shattered pieces of their broken hearts, I do not know. But I have been praying for you. 

And I write for him today.



3 comments:

  1. Hi Brittney...I knew you in high school, but I don't know if you would remember me. Anyways, I saw a link to your blog somewhere and found it, and wanted to say I admire you so much for finding ways to talk about depression and your own experiences and feelings. I have also had a struggle with anxiety and depression, and can relate to so many of the things you have shared. Thanks for writing and sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do remember you Melissa!!! You were easy to admire because you were a year ahead of me and involved in all the stuff I wanted to be involved in! :) Thank you so much for letting me know you relate. Every time I wonder if it's a good idea to write about all this messages like yours warm my heart. :) thank you and I hope you are doing well!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for writing this!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...