Understanding depression and suicide

There’s been a lot of talk on social media about suicide lately after the tragic death of Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. I see it all, I read it all, I typically don’t comment on any of it.

I am deeply saddened by every suicide I hear about, it feels like they all touch me personally, but I’ve been living my own personal grief story for the past few months and sometimes I feel that if I were to comment on some of the things I have read that all of the anger built up inside of me would come out in a fit of rage so deep that I would feel extremely sorry for anyone who happened to get caught in my path.

I do not understand why anyone would ever commit suicide. I just don’t. I just can’t. I am totally ignorant to it.

That doesn’t mean though, that I don’t know that it’s real, and it’s deep, and it’s not just a “weak” thing that people do as some of you have even more ignorantly blasted to the internet. You see, I grew up with a mother who swung with the wind between extreme highs and terrifying lows. I saw the depression in her eyes, heard the sadness in her voice.

I was a child who tried to selfishly walk slower than my two older sisters when we got off the bus at the end of the day, hoping one of them would make it down our long gravel driveway and into the house before I did, so that if today was the day she did “it”, I wouldn’t have to be the one to find her.

I am the mother now, who knows that anything that would be powerful enough to keep me in bed for days, sleeping away precious moments with my children would have to be strong, and powerful, and real.

So when I tell you I don’t understand it, I can’t comprehend it, don’t think for a second that it means that I don’t believe that the depression and darkness are real. Don’t think that I am discounting the feelings, the deep loneliness, the heart-wrenching pain that someone must go through to make such a final and tragic decision. Trust me when I say, it’s real, and there are demons that some people are fighting that some of us will never be able to comprehend.

There are times since my mother’s suicide that I have wished I had felt depression, been to those depths, fought that same fight simply so I could understand how she could do this. In some ways I feel like it might be easier to make sense of all this if I could just visit that place once, know how it feels, maybe then I could know that it wasn’t something I did, or said. Then maybe I would lose the feeling that I was never enough to keep her happy, her own child. It’s an odd and unexplainable position to be in, to understand so fully and not understand at all at the same time.

As quick as I wish it, I take it back. I take it all back like a child who called their sibling a bad name but still wants to play with them. I hope I never understand. To fully understand the depths of the pain my mother suffered through would mean I would have to walk through hell and come out gasping for breath only to be crashed down by another wave.

I sometimes (unwillingly) picture my mother, walking down the hallway, going into her bedroom, shutting the door, laying down on that bed. Did she say anything? What were her final thoughts? Did she think of me? Did she think of my kids? Did she say that she loved me? Was she scared? What if, what if, what if.

So I think that if I could say anything to those of you who believe that suicide is “weak” and “selfish”, it would be that I sincerely hope that you never understand either. I pray that less and less people “understand”. Instead, I hope that you realize that you simply cannot understand, you are ignorant, just like me. I hope that you accept that this issue is so real that you are terrified of it knocking on your door one day, so terrified that you choose to be a light in the world instead of contributing to the darkness. I hope you are as quick to take back your words as I was to take back my wish, so that when someone close to you is struggling in that dark place, you aren’t the one left behind with the guilt because they will never speak of it to you until it’s too late.

And I end with some simple advice that my mother drilled into my head time & time again as a child:
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

peace, love, and acceptance where there can’t be understanding,
jess

Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and our silver lab pup, Maui. We are expecting baby #3 right now, and excited to become a family of 5! I am a freelance website & blog developer, Co-Founder of Moxie Girl Fit Club, and aspiring author. I share about everything from parenting, how to make money from home, tutorials for my fellow bloggers, fitness and being a new homeschool family. Learn more about me here.

4 comments

  1. I know exactly how you feel. I had lost my dad in 1999 to suicide. Heres a crazy thing and hopefully not to long of a story. All my life i have always showed signs of having great Intuition. From telling you that a phone was going to ring, to a death, it has been a gift and a curse. My dad suffered with depression all of his life. So far back in his life that he even had the electric shock therapy. Most of that was before I was born in 1963 so I don’t understand anything about depression until I got older. I can remember being as young as 4 when he would get sick and have to go to the hospital, I would pull the kitchen chair over to the ‘wall phone’ and call him all the time. I also thought that it was something I did that would put him there. I’m the middle of 3 girls and I don’t think they ever felt that way or if they did, they never mentioned it. His was also what they would describe as seasonal depression, started sometime in late October and end around March. He was a small in stature kind of man, which now I would associate it with “small syndrome”. Like you said, Highs were High but the Lows were LOW. I will say that in the 70’s and 80’s I never heard him say anything about ending his life or bad thoughts. That came in the late 90’s. Our lives ran parallel. He had his tonsils out and I had mine out, he had gotten a piece of rust embedded in his eye a week later it happened to me. He had appendicitis at age 18, when I turned 18 I swore it was going to happen to me (it didn’t). Out of his 3 girls, i was more of a tomboy. Football season would be crazy, I’d get up to leave the room and come back in and he’d be in the ‘down set ready’ position ready to tackle. It was great!!!! He was my softball coach, and most of the time I was the ‘line backer’ he never had. Sisters would play with dolls, I’d help him change the oil in the car, play catch, wrestle anything as long as it wasn’t DOLL related. In 1997 low and behold I was diagnosed with depression. For the life of me I could not let that man find out. The last thing I wanted was for him to blame himself, then he would get sick and it would be ‘my fault’. So my depression was as strange as this will sound, a blessing. I now could understand what he was going thru. Not look at it like most of that generation did/does, if you keep yourself busy, mind occupied, you won’t have time to get depressed. So far from the truth. On top of it the energy that it takes to hide it from your children. At this time, I was a single mom and they were not going to ever feel like it was ‘their fault’ mommy was sick. So to hide it from them took everything I had.

    We grew up in a Christian home, raised Catholic but then my dad was saved and started going to a Church of God with my mom. I always knew the Lord, but was saved in Dec 1996 and started going to a Baptist Church.

    In May of 1999, one of the worst bouts of depression my dad was going thru, I said to my sister, I really feel if it wasn’t for daddy’s faith, he’d end his life. Let me mention, that my dad knew what it was like to go to work and find someone who committed suicide, so he knew first hand what he would be leaving behind. So the response I got from my sister was, maybe God is trying to tell you something. You should pray about it, maybe your suppose to do something……so in the months to come, October and November, he spent more time in bed that out enjoying his retirement. On occassion, my mom would have to work and would ask me to come and sit at the house. Which was a good thing, while i was there I was able to get his insurance information, social security number, any info that i would need to play Mrs. and make doctor appointments or whatever I had to do to get him the help I knew he needed. I had been medicated now for 2 years and was improving, but knew and understood more that you must…..MUST take your medication. So in Novemeber 1999, dad and I went to the doctors. We met with a counseler and he made the verbal promise of I will call you if i ever have any thoughts. They put him on medication and set up other appointments. Middle of November, he felt bad enough to get himself to the hospital. I found that out while i was on the way to my counciling session so i was able to talk to my therapist about it and found out that in 72 hours they would release him. My mom made the comment that she brought him home in the same condition she dropped him off in. 72 hours is the insurances window. NOT THE DOCTORS. He was home and would hold his head and just cry saying it won’t stop……Until 12/4/1999. My phone did not ring. My mom came home from appointments, he wasn’t anywhere around, wasn’t in the living room, wasn’t in the bedroom. She went to the basement and in the cellar way is where he was. Laying from a single gunshot from a .22 to the temple. Dad was a hunter so he knew what to use that wouldn’t be so ‘ugly’ thats what the police said. My dad, who would give anyone the shirt off his back, loved his kids and grandkids with everything he had just couldn’t take the demons any more. I get mad, sad, hurt, angry, extremely angry. In my heart of hearts, I know even though he didn’t leave a note, his last word was AMEN. I believe with everything in me that he prayed, asked for forgiveness and said AMEN. Of course, I went thru the guilt of why didn’t I do more, why didn’t he call me like he promised? Why Why Why? I understood him better than anyone, why didn’t he come to me?

    Catholics believe that suicide is a sin that will get you a speed pass to Hell. But thank you God for telling us in the bible that 7 x 70 you will be forgiven if you ask for forgiveness. Matthew 18:22..

    For 2 years after I would find myself crying, sobbing praying to God why did He allow this to happen, why didn’t he reach for that phone, all the why’s that come flooding in. Then I asked for a some kind of sign to let me know that he was all right. I got that sign in the middle of the night. He was walking up my stairs saying my name as only he would and saying I’m alright, I’m alright. I believe with all my heart, he is in heaven with his Lord and Savior and he is all right!

    For the people that say that’s the cowards way or the easy way out, I say put a gun to your head and pull the triger, take that bottle of pills and don’t put your finger down your throat to throw up.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope mine helped you a little.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story with me, and your dad’s story. We should chat sometime.

  2. Your words are just beautiful. You def make someone stop and think about depression and suicide from a different prospective. I pray you continue to heal and find peace. I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you so much Michele! I SO appreciate your taking the time to comment and your kind words.

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