Thursday, May 8, 2008

For Shannon

My blogging buddy Shannon over at has recently been posting about a dear friend whose life has been wrecked by several tragedies all at one time, including the death of his son this week. They fear this man may be contemplating suicide. This led her to discuss the suicides of other loved ones or acquaintences in her life. She opened a discussion about the questions these events raise. Since my comment on her blog would take up an entire page I decided to blog this. Here is a portion of her post

I would never judge someone who took their own life, to them I'm sure there was no other alternative. I just wish that they could see the beauty in life and find their self-worth and place in this world. Depression has got to be the worst disease to have. I say this because I watch people who are truly depressed for periods of time and it saddens me the way they seal themselves off from the world around them. I wonder why they do that? Is it because they don't want anyone to know what they are truly feeling? They just can't face a smiling face? They have no hope for a better day? I just pray that I never have to experience these feelings. We all have problems, but for me they are just challenges to overcome, obstacles to bypass, experiences to learn from. What is your take on suicide? Do you know anyone who has taken their own life? Were there any signs? What were they? Sorry that I am stuck on this issue right now, I'm just looking for ways to be there for someone who really needs it right now.

Personally I have dealt with the illness side of suicide. My mother suffered from schizoaffective disorder and in the last 5 years of her life it literally sucked the will to live from her. She spoke about, fantasized about and often threatened suicide, she may have even attempted but I am not 100% sure. It took me a lot of years to understand that this was beyond her control. By the Grace of God she died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism, which I strongly feel was the hand of God taking her home to give her peace. She suffered serious delusions about life by the time she died and it was impossible to reason with her. In fact when I got the call that she was dead, my first question as I dropped to my knees was "How did she do it?".....

I also have some friends who lost their 17 year old son to suicide almost 2 years ago. It was a horrible shock to all of those who knew him. He was a fun loving kid who had a bright future. But, according to his dad, his note listed very rational reasons for wanting to give it up. It is very strange to think that someone could even come to such a conclusion at such a young age. And it leaves a wake of sadness, bitterness and anger behind that washes over families like a tidal wave. From all observations, this boy was not mentally ill in any way. It was just the path he chose. How tragic, and impossible for anyone to understand.

As for myself I have suffered from depression most of my life, dealt with abuse and a difficult childhood, and watched the demise of my mother as a teenager and young adult. Yet I have never once thought of giving up. I will fight for my life and my sanity to the very end. And even though I admittedly suffer from clinical depression, I have always been mindful of the future. There will always be another day, another chance to feel better, or make it better. Mental illness is such a strange beast, and it is sad how it devours some people and yet other people it only pushes us far enough to find very little joy in life sometimes-but never to the point of giving up. But you did ask why people with depression seal themselves off from people....for me personally, I just can't muster the energy to make converstation, to smile, to pretend everything is ok, when I am having an episode. And there are very very few people in my life that are close enough to me that I will even be around at those times...because I know, with them, I can sit and say nothing and be swallowed up in my dark little world, and they will not try to 'perk me up' or 'fix it'. There is no quick fix. When it's there it's there...I have no control or warning (although hormones play a part) and when it's gone, life is good and I am my usual happy perky smartassy self. However, without medication my dark times far outweigh my good ones. I am resigned to the fact that I will probably be medicated all my life. And I am ok with that. Considering my family medical history and my past experiences, I would say if I'm only a little bit nuts, I'm doin' OK!!!

Suicide is such a selfish act. It leaves loved ones left with so many questions, so much guilt and so much anger. And yet, I know from my own experience with my mother, that for some it is completely beyond their control. The thought of dying ate away inside her brain for so long it almost became a waiting game. I was not surprised to get the call she had died...I was only surprised it was of natural causes. And despite my attempts to get her help over and over again, all the admissions to hospitals and begging and pleading and tough love...I could never save her from herself and her thoughts. To this day I am angry that she had to go through that, I am angry that I had to go through that...but I cannot imagine the anger I would feel had she succeeded in her quest. Thankfully God spared us all from that.

Shannon I am praying for your friends tonight. No human should have to suffer so much. And I know you and Mike feel helpless right now. There isn't much you can do and nothing you will ever be able to say...but being there, a steady presence, never letting them forget that they are loved and that you are there for them is the best support you can lend right now I think.


Shannon said...

Thank you so much for that insight. Once again your honesty is a light for me. I know few people who can be so honest and open about themselves! Depression does seem so dark. I have many people in my family who suffer and are medicated - for life. I just don't know how I've been so lucky this far in my life. I'm glad that you can always look forward! I thought I should clear something up about my post. The son was found dead - he did not commit suicide, but we are afraid that the father is contemplating this end for himself. He has made 1 or 2 comments about it. I should go back and proofread my stuff.

Thanks again! :)

Shannon said...

Okay. Should be more clear now. When I wrote the first post, we weren't sure what had happened, just that he was found dead. TOO SAD!

The Pastoral Princess said...

Oooh I will make the appropriate changes to my blog as well, sorry I misunderstood that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that suicide has to be one of the most selfish things a person can do - yet having said that I will confess to have suicidal thoughts myself many times, to the point where I had planned out step by step how I would actually do it.

You're right that when a person gets so depressed that they think suicide is the only way out, they really don't have any control over it. I was lucky I had my children and my faith to pull me out of that hole.

And now, having written way more than I intended to, I will say a prayer for this dear man who has suffered so much tragedy.

3rd... said...

"When it's there it's there...I have no control or warning (although hormones play a part) and when it's gone, life is good and I am my usual happy perky smartassy self"

I use to have these episodes and hormones indeed played a part. All the pain from my childhood would creep up and make me gasp for breath..

They're gone now though, for several years already. I can feel sad and even depressed but for evident reasons, it doesn't come to me out of the blue anymore.
I have only God to thank for that. I think there is so much power in prayer.