I have hesitated sharing but ultimately if you are reading this, I closed my eyes and hit “Post” My view is controversial at best and based in my own experiences on both sides of the suicide spectrum.
In 2002 I had a breakdown. I didn’t see it coming. In hindsight I can see it clearly … but, when I was in it, I thought I was OK.
I had been navigating family drama – you know, the controlling mother, the judgement of not being enough. My girls were 2 and 6 at the time. I had come off postpartum depression and they were thinking I had a postpartum psychosis. I struggled to get out of bed everyday, housework was overwhelming, I was yelling and spanking and when I wasn’t doing that I was crafting, loving and playing. The girls played alone for hours sometimes, which is fine… but I felt like I was failing as I just sat upstairs and cried alone. I cried for God to “fix things” … My faith was drowning.
My mother was diagnosed with Cancer for the 4th time and we were looking at treatment again. Surgeries, radiation, chemo and repeat. My grandmother was finishing up her latest bout of radiation and chemo and headed into what would be her last surgery.
I was still in the process of divorce, custody and visitation and I was trying to be amicable but only able to rise to my highest level of training at the time – I got a lot wrong.
My oldest was struggling with a learning disability, lacked focus, structure, discipline and was out of control. She was energetic and kept me hopping and she was sometimes my biggest motivation to rise and sometimes my biggest failure in the day.
I had reconnected with my biological father during this time and I was trying to reconcile my memories and extract truth from stories that were embedded in my mind. Reconciling years of events and realizing fact vs exaggeration.
We were in the midst of renovations living in chaos to save money on our rental unit – we had a wonderful home with a discount in rent as we refinished the kitchen and took on painting projects, concrete work, landscaping and a new deck. This helped us financially, however we lived in the mess and chaos of renovations all the time.
I was taking antidepressants to get me out of bed and another pill to help me sleep. My Doctor had changed my meds 4 times in one month – safe to say I was not chemically balanced
The connection with my husband seemed to be fraying at the seams that tied us. He gravitated to his resources and I to mine- NON of which were aligned for couple hood success. I the crazy, unpredictable, medicated wife that he had to deal with. He was emotionless husband who lacked empathy, understanding and had unrealistic expectations. He was staying for the kids. I was staying because I was financially stuck … we also loved the shit out of each other we just couldn’t find each other.
That day: I don’t remember what the fight was about. I threw a cup aimed at Mike’s head filled with coffee- It missed the target and shattered behind him. I have the aim of a 5-year-old with a blind fold. He scoffed and made a comment about me having to clean that up. As the kids played Barbies downstairs our voices raised and we spiraled out of control.
He walked out. He got in his truck and drove away.
I was vibrating with anxiety, rage, hurt and bewilderment.
How did we get here? I wanted him to come back, hold me and tell me it didn’t matter if we fought we could work it out… that we would love each other through anything. The longer I sat there the longer that was not a reality. I thought of where he would go. What advice would get? Would it be in line with “couple hood”? Would he leave me? Where we would go from here? What happens when he comes back? Am I loosing a second marriage? Could I lose my girls? Would I lose my home? How would I support myself? What could I sell? Could I work and do daycare? How would the kids’ function? Could I keep my car? ALL the thoughts spaghettied – Every thought touched the last and led me down a new wormhole of endless possibilities… my mind exploded; my heart shattered.
I looked at my medication on the counter – I took ONE to calm down, I could be more rational. It was freshly dispensed so I had 30 days worth. I could take extra and my Dr could make it up on the next prescription. I wanted control of my thoughts, emotions and composure. I waited, not being able to stop the tears or gasps for breath. I took another pill, still choking on feelings. I took another and stared at the bottle.
What if I was just gone …? What if I finished the bottle and slipped into sleep? My girls would grieve but they would have a good life without their crazy mother. They were young they would recover. I have a history of instability. Mike would love them and keep them together, he would let them know it was not their fault. He is a good dad and he would have both our mothers to help him. Everything would be better without me. He could collaborate with my Ex husband and he would be supported by our community. The death of his crazy wife would be a tragedy and people would feel vindicated and help him. What a blessing it was that I was no longer in the future of their lives. The girls would be loved, they would grow up in a home without further drama or my influence. Mike could find someone that he really loved rather than feeling he got stuck with the mother of his child …
It was decided then … everything would be better if I was gone. I swallowed the rest of the contents of that bottle.
I sat in clam resolve, tears stopped, I squared my shoulders prayed for forgiveness. I imagined standing before God in a few moments head hung begging forgiveness. I prayed for my Mike that he could forgive me … and I prayed for my girls … MY GIRLS! Remembering them downstairs – my God, my girls! … they would find me like this! WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO???
I called my Mom to come to come get the kids – I couldn’t drive, my head was spinning, I lost focus. My step-up-dad answered. I begged him to get the kids. I told him of the fight, that I just needed to be alone. I didn’t want the kids to see me in the state I had been left in.
Dad walked in, he took stock. Noticed the empty bottle, the date on the bottle – One day old and already gone. He determined he would take the kids if I came too.
I could sleep and be alone at moms. I knew how this was ending. I planned to lock the bedroom door so the girls could not come in, even if they did it would just look like I was sleeping, My parents would be there to shelter them. If this was the only option that is how I would manage it … I don’t remember getting in the truck or the drive. I remember pulling up to the driveway and taking my seat belt off. Dad told me to wait in the truck while he got the kids settled. He came back got in the truck and kept driving – I don’t remember.
Slipping in and out of consciousness, the next thing I remember was being woken up to drink a black charcoal drink that would stop the absorption of the medication. They told me hopefully it was in time to save the use of my legs. At some point Mike and my dad exchanged words over my me. Mom was holding my hand and hissed that they take it outside- this is not the place or the time. I remember Mike saying “I didn’t do this” as they walked out of the room together.
2 days later I believe I remember my mother-in-love coming into my bedroom and kissing my forehead. I don’t remember how I got home or even THAT I went home. I remember her asking “What were you doing? Why would you do this? … I muttered it was an accident, and I’m OK.
Shame and fear gripped me in the weeks that followed. I was afraid my kids would be taken – suicidal women are not safe and do not get to keep their kids. Rather than face that possibility it was easier to lie. It was easier to say, I just wanted to calm down and so I took a pill and then another. I lost track of how many I took – It was an accident.
I had no preconceived plan; I had no contemplative action. It was a reaction from overwhelm I was trying to manage.
I see the #letstalk posts , and they make me angry. No amount of “talking” could have prevented what I chose. When we put the responsibilities on others to “talk” with us, it absolves the responsibility of self. Had I been successful it would have been no one’s fault except mine. It was my choice. I rose to my highest level of training in that moment and I wanted out. Celebrities with abundant networks that were engaged in active relationships filled with bells “talk” philosophy still make their own choice! It is nobodies’ responsibility to take ownership of another human life.
I feel what we have done is made everyone else responsible to reach out to us when we struggle. Those who are struggling are isolating and hiding… we have a responsibility for our own person – even and especially in that STATE! What happens when someone is successful? Those left behind are wracked with GUILT and SHAME! Believing that obviously, WE failed THEM!
NO! They failed themselves! Lest we get distracted being angry with those that have chosen to take their lives – It is biblical that EVERY. LIVING. THING. HAS. A. WILL. TO. LIVE. Even a worm hates to Die …
When someone chooses to take their life there is something that is in opposition to their very design that has changed IN their mind. A chemical imbalance, a hormone, a spiritual belief? SO many factors at play.
My advice would be for myself. To continue to take responsibility for my life. Taking responsibility for the impact of my life or death on others.
If you are spinning in your own mind reach out! Take responsibility for your life in vulnerability and transparency. If you don’t receive the support you are needing… keep reaching! Healing comes in the most unexpected ways. KEEP TRYING and keep taking the NEXT BEST STEP.
As someone who has lost a family member to suicide, I can share the guilt that ripples through those left behind is indescribable. The anger, resentment, remorse and grief for things left unsaid (or said), for missed opportunities and the missing in opportunities now forever taken is a loss that has no words. Living in the “should have…” and “could have…”- replaying moments and dissecting every interaction is encompassing and debilitating. This is not our fault for NOT reaching them. This is a decision THEY made within the isolation of their own minds. Suicide is not the fault or the responsibility of those left behind.
Just my thoughts from here as I look through the windows of my own eyes with my own perspective.
If you are struggling with taking responsibility for your life, if you are stuck in what is the next best step, overwhelmed in your own wormholes, I invite you to reach out to me and let’s create a vision for your future and step towards that vision today!
If you are grieving a loved one who made a choice, I hope you have been freed from things you carry as you read my perspective – SO much love and empathy for you from here!