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On suicide.

By 6/06/2018

suicide is scary.

my first, and only boss killed herself.  when i was young, i remember flipping over a bleacher in the dugout, tumbling, to catch the seat square in my stomach.  when i got a call several years ago, hearing what she'd done, i felt the same.  the air was smashed out of me.  i felt a punch in the gut, an emptying.  it was like a failure to upload.  i had nowhere to put that information.  no filing system, no sorter to deal with it.  she did what?

for me, i think it's scary because it makes it a possibility.  'oh, i see -- that's available', i thought.  i've always worried crazy was contagious.  that depression was something you could catch.  i pictured a wave coming at you, with no other option than it taking you down, pulling you under and that's that.  you didn't make it.  no mam pam, i'm perfectly happy here on the shore under an umbrella.  no interest in messing with all those... feelings.

i didn't realize you could withstand a storm, a rush of water, a tragedy or even a really really low mood.  i pushed away a lot of feelings because i didn't know they could crash on you, and you might go down, but you'd get up.  there'd be time to catch your breath.  live a little, see the sun.  and inevitably the next set comes, but you've got some practice.  some technique.  you're sturdier than the last go-round.

i watched my parents get pulled down a few times, and i heard the word suicide then.  they weren't shy about depression.  even more reason for me to avoid anything remotely related.  i wouldn't do that.  i'd steel myself against sadness, if it meant not crying when my mom got sick, keeping my distance when my dad felt lost, or challenging brian to buck up when he felt stuck.  i wouldn't let them pull me down with them, because the slope was slippery, and if suzanne hung herself, what if i did too?

suicide still scares me.  i think about all the suffering that comes before and i still don't know how to process it.  but, i'm finally in the water, where we really do our most authentic living.  and i'm trusting what i've learned.  i've seen a tropical depression or two, and i didn't evacuate.  i hunkered down.  i lost my grandmas, my mom, and my marriage, and i'm still here.  i stocked my life raft with shit tons of therapy, with a bottle of wellbutrin, with my friends, pups, food, walks, work, all the tears and i'm still afloat.

in no way do i want to say i'm better at this... life thing - but what i want to say is if you're scared, or if you're afraid too, we can get through it.  almost everyone can relate.  talk about it.  say the word.  depressed.  sad.  scared.  suicide.  take the power away from it, and let's get in this janky lifeboat together.  i'll bring cheetos, the kleenexes, the books, anything i have to give.  we'll do our best, and maybe one day catch a wave or two to ride for fun, when we get better at it.




14 comments

  1. Thank you for starting the conversation. I had a colleague hang herself also. It's still shocking several years later. I think about her often. She was so accomplished, just finished her MBA at age 25. It horrified me there was not a single person she felt she could talk to about her pain. How she must have suffered, and felt so isolated. I'm not expressing this well, but I felt desperately sad she didn't reach out to anyone. I suffer with major depression. I think of her when I feel I am entering my "abyss." I think of her and I pick up the phone and call a loved one, or a help line. I am resistant to oral medications. I have found relief with Ketamine IV therapy + oral medication + twice monthly psychotherapy. Ketamine for depression/suicidal ideation is a lifesaver and works almost immediately to relieve suffering. Unfortunately, it is not yet approved by the FDA so it is not covered by insurance. Only people who can afford to pay out of pocket can get it right now which is criminal. There are clinics around the country that offer it. I go to a clinic run by an anesthesiologist who administers it. Be well.

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    1. I'm glad you've found relief, and I hope it becomes easier, more acceptable and accessible for you to get what you know works for you. and I understand as best I can what you mean by the sadness you feel that she couldn't reach out - that she didn't think it was worth it. it's almost to much to bear.

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  2. This post is so beautiful. Thank you for writing it <3

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  3. I think there's a very real difference between bouts of sadness and depression that are the result of horrible things happening in our lives and the mental illness that robs your very ability to feel or care about anything for years on end.

    Many people will of course have periods of intense sadness in their lifetime, but it doesn't even compare to spending an entire decade feeling like nothing matters and there's no reason for you to even get out of bed, let alone live your life.

    I've been struggling with severe depression and anxiety for the better part of my adult life (no, I'm not contagious) so I can always imagine a little bit what that person who killed themselves must have been going through. Because that's been me.

    And in the wake of a public tragedy like this one, it's always disheartening to see so much misunderstanding or a deliberate distancing from this sort of thing. And you're right - we DO need to talk about it. People need to feel safe talking about it and being able to get the support they may need.

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    1. I appreciate you taking the time to write Michaela. it's hard to start this conversation, for me, because I only know what I know, and it's limited. thank you for sharing your experience. a bout of sadness and real mental illness are completely different, you're right. I want to be sensitive to the difference.

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  4. thank you for opening up the conversation to mental health and ultimately, well-being. appreciate you and your candor (and cheetos and kleenex)

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  5. i loved reading this! thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. you nailed it! #jankylifeboat

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  6. Thank you for this post: very relatable and much needed.

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  7. This has hurt my heart. I’m getting married in September in a Kate Spade dress. I tried to end my life three times. Twice I ended up in a psych ward in nyc. I was the only idiot asking for blush. But seriously, anxiety and depression are real. Real scary. I deal with the bad thoughts everyday. I now live for my family who saw me in an almost dead state twice. Suicide is real.

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  8. Jamie, again I love your writing style. I agree with just about everything you've written, especially the ebb and flow of depression. The only thing that needs to be understood is that as each major event that hits us, our 'bank' of good stress hormones (like serotonin) gets depleted every time and over time with each 'hit' of a major life event. We then get weaker and weaker which makes our ability to fight a tsunami type event harder each successive time as it happens. I found this to be true when I was in my early 30's (I'm 60 now), when my husband was a builder of condos during the 80's and 90's in the resort town near us. One of the largest projects took him 10 years to build because it was phased-in. We ended up losing the entire project after 10 years, had to file bankruptcy and came within inches of losing our house and car....10 years lost. Interest rates went so high that our construction loan at 18 percent plus prime ate up all the profits. Then he went on to build a houses for my mother, brother, and brother-in-law... which was unbelievably stressful. I had ALL this going on while working as an esthetician in a busy day spa and trying to be everything for my clients, and in the end, it all came down when I started to feel this darkness that I couldn't shake like all of the windows had blackout curtains. I couldn't feel the sunlight. The stress had kept me afloat while it was happening, but as the stressors accumulated, I was in so deep that it was almost too late. It's like a hole that gets dug a little deeper each time and the dirt is thrown to the side, but we can still get out of the hole, but in the end the hole gets so deep that we can't get out without a whole lot of help, which by then most people are too emotionally drained to ask for help. I like your 'arsenal' idea. I'm going to keep that in mind. I think at 60 looking back at what I've been through (horrible abusive childhood, married to a builder with no regular $$, working at a energy demanding job for 30 years and counting, losing 11 cats through time, and in 2012 finding out that I have a brain tumor (acoustic neuroma), I should have managed these drain down times more aggressively. I should have tried to get in front of it instead of backfilling. The thing is, when you are going through these down events, and you come out on the other end 'thinking' your stronger, the truth is you are actually weaker and you need to do some major shoring-up and be prepared for the next tsumani. Thanks.

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  9. This may be the best post I've read on suicide, depression and hope in the past week. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. Jamie, thank you so much for this beautifully written post. Hugs to you!

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