Today I’m in Florida as I mentioned in yesterday’s post for the first time since my friend Dina’s death. I originally wrote and posted the following on my personal Facebook page on Dec. 28, 2010, 3 days after her suicide on Christmas Day. This is the post (and response) that encouraged me to start Motherhood Unadorned. In case you never saw it, I thought this a perfect time to share it again…
Suicide Should Not Be Hushed Up.
I need to get on my soapbox. I just have to. Some of you may know that I have mental illness. I have major depression and anxiety that has been a part of my life for many years. I also had major issues during pregnancy and some PPD. I’ve had bad treatment, good treatment and everything in between. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve been on brink and have had wonderful hands pull me back…luckily. I’ve also had friends attempt suicide and others who have succeeded at it. And it breaks my heart. I am literally crying writing this.
Mental illness is a real chronic illness/disease that needs serious treatment and constant support. I am now well treated, on meds and have an amazing support system, but even for me some days are not easy. Speaking about this is NOT tarnishing my family’s reputation or should not be an embarrassment. Rather it should give hope to others. This is something that needs to be talked about, that needs to come out of the shadows.
If someone you know (including ME) EVER talks of suicide, is depressed, makes drastic changes in their life or just seems very off, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. PLEASE PLEASE do something. Anything. No matter how big or how small. Just do something. Talk about it. Make sure every person in their life knows about it. This is not the time to clam up and not want to intrude. INTRUDE. You may just be the one to save their life. Don’t let others talk you out of intruding. You need to do this. It is a person’s life we’re talking about.
That person deserves constant vigilance. That person needs to know they are loved even if they won’t believe it. And if they are offered help, make sure they take it. A depressed or mentally ill person cannot make these choices for themselves. They need our help. I say “our” because it is not one person’s responsibility to save another. It is our collective responsibility to take care of each other. To offer support. To not be afraid to do something/anything for our loved ones. To tell those that we love that we love them as often as possible.
Suicide can be prevented, with treatment, with hospitalization, with medication, with therapy, with love and support of family and friends. With openness and honesty. Suicide and its prevention should be talked about again and again. Even if you feel like someone is “crying wolf”, take it seriously. It may be your last chance.
I hope that my friends who have taken their own lives have somehow found peace where they are today. I hope that they now know how much they are loved, and were loved in life. And I hope that their children will grow up knowing what an amazing, wonderful and beautiful parent they had, even with mental illness. Even with their flaws (we all have flaws). We also all have gifts and those children were blessed to have that person touch their lives and be their parent. My friends who are grieving the loss(es) have my deepest most heartfelt and tearful sympathies and love. I am here for you.
Response was incredible both publicly and privately. The post was shared by many friends on Facebook. Some people even friended me or messaged me to ask if they could get permission to repost and I heartily agreed.
Here are just some of the public comments that I think are also very important to read:
Martha said: Thank you for sharing your story. I have major depression and anxiety issues too and also been on the edge as well. I’m currently out of work on FMLA leave due to anxiety issues. I’ve been in treatment for nearly 10 years and it has made a difference but not everyday is easy as you say. There is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s more wide spread than most people know. Sharing as you have done is a big way to prevent suicide as it makes people realize they not alone and not the only ones going through this.
Lana said: You are an inspiration to share something so deeply personal…knowing you will be influencing others. I just spoke to a family member yesterday who admitted he is severely depressed… I’m taking it seriously.
Katie said: I shared your story. Your words are so powerful and you just never know who is on that edge. Thank you for being so vunerable. Life is so hard- Being a Wife. Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Professional, ect… is hard- all the demands we put on ourselves- but I always have Faith that tomorrow or some day in the future will be better 🙂 It saddens me that others don’t know that.
Sadly, it can take a lot of time and energy to get the help one needs. It takes all of us standing up and demanding the right thing be done. Too many lives have been lost to mental illness.
Stacee said: I couldnt agree more, there are so many medications, support systems, etc that can prevent such tragedy. It is AMAZING how many people suffer from anxiety, depression, etc, etc.. i have begged people to get on medication that I know need it so badly.. I myself take something and am not ashamed of it at all , life is NOT EASY and the stresses of life can be so difficult , but NOTHING IN THIS WORLD is worth your life. NOTHING. Its just so final and so sad and just so so horrible to think someones life ended for NO REASON and so many people could have helped.
Jeffrey said: For those of us who have gone through (or are going through) anxiety and depression, and have been touched by suicide, remember that we are uniquely equipped to see the signs in other people.
If you see the signs, step in and help, or ask their loved ones to help.
Having been down the dark road, and now having teenagers, has put me in a unique position to help my own kids. It’s managed to turn my dark times into a blessing. Don’t give up hope.
Kate said: I too have suffered from depression and anxiety throughout my life. Most significantly would be my severe PPD after my first child was born. I have willingly spoken out about it because it was such a terrible experience. You can’t get out of it alone and you can’t deal with it alone.
Scarlett said: Having lived thru my fathers suicide it would seem “crazy” to even consider this as an option, but those who know me, know this past year was incredibly difficult and I just wanted to share this because it is as serious as any disease…There was a time that we all just covered these things up and did not discuss but having had this myself I am greatful for the love of my family and friends. Reading this at this time of year when we look at the past year made me feel not so alone.
George said: As another person who suffers from anxiety & depression (currently off meds due to lack of insurance unfortunately), I can’t begin to thank you enough. Every day is a struggle, some days are better than others. This is an issue we ALL need to be open with. It goes both ways. We need to make it known that we’re there in times of crisis and at the same time when we’re in a dark, hopeless place, know that there are others who love & care about us who are there for us.
Holly said: I have suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts in the past. I have also been dealing with PPD for almost a year now. I used to think every day about leaving my family…fantasize about it, plan it, the timing, the reactions, everything. There are so many of us dealing with depression, isolation (some self imposed, as in my case), loneliness, worthlessness…We need to bond together and be there to SUPPORT instead of criticize. Help each other instead of making the problem worse. I confessed to a friend my thoughts of leaving Ava & my hubby, and she responded by telling me I needed to get over it, and then unloading on me via email every possible way I had slighted/hurt her in the past 10 years of friendship. It was almost enough to push me over the edge, but thankfully I have a very supportive husband and a few very supportive friends who helped me get a councilor, medication, and support. You are right on in your post, and I’m glad to see you open up to talk about this subject. It is so important to get it out in the open.
My final response: Thank you ALL for being so open. It is a precious gift that we’re giving to others who read this. The words themselves might help them, the words might encourage them to take action in another’s life, or they just might realize they are not alone. This is not an isolated problem just one person lives through. Depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, bipolar, suicidal thoughts, suicide itself….so many wonderful people are affected. So many of our loved ones and we don’t even know it. Just reach out and you will see. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the response of so many publicly, privately or in their own hearts. Thank you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topics of mental illness & suicide. Have you experienced a friend or loved one take their own life? Have you ever tried to get someone help who you thought might be suicidal? Will you now?