Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Feeling raw

At lunch today, I learned that a woman I knew peripherally killed herself last week. She had a son who is a senior in high school and the conversation turned - naturally, I think - to how a mother can do that to her kids. One woman couldn't understand how it was possible for a woman to think ending her life was the best thing for her children. I don't think anyone who hasn't been there can really comprehend such utter madness.

Unfortunately, I know exactly how a mother can think and do such things and because it's important to me to be understood, I tried to explain. I tried to explain how your brain gets so twisted that the only thing you can see is how miserable you make everyone around you and how everyone, especially your babies, would be better off if you weren't there any more. I tried to explain that you don't necessarily think you're hurting your kids in the long run, and how that thought makes sense. I tried to explain that the need to get out - of your situation, your brain, your life - can drown out all other thoughts, including those of your children.

I don't think I did a very good job of conveying the agony of a suicidal mind. I mean, it's an agony that can smother all motherly instincts. It must be pretty strong. But she remained skeptical.

I suppose it's good that my friend couldn't wrap her mind around being able to leave your kids through suicide. If people who haven't lived through it understood how "easy" it is in the midst of a serious, deep depression to determine that you're as worthless to your kids as you are to the rest of the world, well, there might be more mothers like the one who sparked this conversation.

I've been doing well lately. I feel like all of my chemical issues are finally balancing out and most of my stressors are now external instead of internal. But today's lunch talk has churned up all the ugly darkness that surrounded and nearly swallowed me not too long ago. These feelings are horrifyingly familiar and seem like they could easily make themselves comfortable in my life again.

But I'm stronger now than I have been in years, and I think I can banish those feelings back to whatever circle of hell they came from and tell them to stay there. And I need to. Because even though my depression has taught me how a mother can kill herself, I've promised myself that I'm never going to be a mother who teaches that heartbreaking lesson to her children.

7 comments:

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh Emily. I read this last night (after seeing you post it on twitter) and I am so with you. I had a similar conversation after an acquaintance took his life last year. He was a father and everyone was whispering in wonder over how he could do such a selfish thing.

I wasn't as brave as you. It took awhile before I spoke up to anyone and said "because he probably really truly deeply thought they'd be better off without him."

People who haven't been there just don't understand the twisted logic of depression. It lies but it lies so well that it feels like the only true thing in the whole world.

Hugs and strength and solidarity, sister.

Kim said...

I had a cousin who committed suicide almost 15 years ago and family sadly uttered the same thing, that he was "selfish" for leaving his parents. I think that only people who have suffered through depression can understand the sadness that can ensue a mind filled with depression.

Dawnmarie said...

I've known 2 parents who took their life, and 2 others who did as well. I can't pretend to understand the despair they felt, or the blackness that must have surrounded them. I just know it exists. And although I knew all 4 of these people and I felt the normal anger of grief, I can't blame them. Instead I blame the ignorance that still stigmatizes mental illness and depression and makes it hard for those who need help to get it. I wish that people wouldn't be so quick to dismiss depression as just a little sadness that will get better. I'm sad every time I hear that we lost another soul to that horrible blackness. You are in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your story.

Nora DePalma said...

Lovely post, Emily, thank you for sharing. I have the unique perspective of having both attempted suicide and later had my elderly mom commit suicide. I knew how much my mom suffered during my attempt. So it made no sense that she'd inflict that on me--she just was not that selfish a person. She did it for exactly the reason "Clueless but Hopeful" said: she really thought my husband, stepson and I would be better off without her.

Doing My Best said...

This is so, SO beautifully written!

twisterfish said...

I know well that "twisted logic of depression" that CBHM mentioned. I attempted suicide as a teen. Like you, I "banish those feelings back to whatever circle of hell they came from and tell them to stay there".
I don't know your past, but I'm glad to read you're doing well and feeling strong. I know all too well how stepping out of that pit of despair is hard. Please know, if you ever need a hand to grab onto, I'm here.

Noelle said...

Hugs Em! Thanks for putting this perspective out there for us. My mom didn't commit suicide but she battled depression for so long I really think it played a role in her death. Your side of things is definitely the smack in the face I need right now as I'm struggling to deal with the mess my mom left behind. Love ya Em! You continue to amaze me!