An Explanation from the Dark Side

A/N: If you want a balanced and sane person’s POV, I highly recommend The Holistic Homeschooler’s entry from yesterday: Why I Cried When Robin Williams Died.

My entry is the depressed and suicidal person’s POV. I figure I know just a small bit about this as I have suffered since I was 11 years old. I did not go back and re-read and edit this. It is a first draft. It was just too painful to be this honest but I felt the need to do so because most of us who are depressed and suicidal are private for the reasons I list below. But I’m in menopause and that has given me attitude. I just don’t freaking care sometimes. I’ll probably regret this, probably five minutes after I post it.

As for the naming of names in this, it’s like my friend once posted about her memoir she is writing about her abusive mother, If you had wanted me to write nice things about you, you should have treated me kindly.

I began writing something yesterday, but then I thought, “Nah, there is no one on earth who deserves to know that much about me.” Then I woke to Twitter and Facebook feeds full of some well-intentioned, but ill-informed statements. I probably would have just let it slide still if it hadn’t been for the not well-intentioned at all statements, the cruel and, to be honest, stupid statements that just proved the people saying them had no clue as to what they were talking about. It was the cruelty that really did it to me. People saying things about Robin Williams, and, by default, other victims of suicide, how he was mean and selfish to do this to his family. Idiots. Like you know what it’s like to suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide. Must be good to be you, so puffed up in your own false knowledge that you can condemn a person without even understanding them.

To the people who have been posting that “if only Robin Williams had tons of nicey-nice communications on his Twitter feed,” I know you mean well. I am so glad you are among the compassionate who when you heard the news felt an understanding at a certain level of his pain, or at least tried to. You thought of how much you never wanted something like this to happen to your own friends. And I’m definitely not going to knock the importance of support from loved ones and friends for the depressed and suicidal person. God knows the last 34 years would have been far easier if my parents and spouse had supported me in even the slightest. So continue with your good will, but please be aware that you have, by your use of “if only,” just condemned the families and friends who actually gave a darn for their loved one who committed suicide.

I used to be an “if only” person, myself. I thought that all depressed and suicidal people had similar life experiences to mine. I couldn’t imagine that a child raised in a loving home or a person married to a loving spouse would ever consider the things I consider. But this simply doesn’t hold true. I’ve learned over the past several years that many suicide victims had people who loved them and supported them, some even tried to get them help. In the end, there was nothing they could do, nothing they could say, no amount of endless love they could give that would have changed the outcome. Because depressed and suicidal people don’t think the way other people do.

Now, because all depression is different, imo, and no two people commit suicide for the same reason, I will simply explain things from my own experience. If I were ever to go dark, it wouldn’t be just because I had no support, though, honestly, that would be a lot of it. I do have friends who are encouraging and kind, and they would most likely be the ones, like you, who would question what they could have done differently, when there really was nothing. In fact, there would probably be an argument in my head, something like “Well, that person said a nice thing to you, you aren’t worthless to them.” But it wouldn’t hold, not if I went dark, but it would be a pleasant thought to have.

When I was a girl living with my grandmother, I thought about killing myself at least 10 times a day. We had guns in the house, it would have been simple. But, honestly, my grandmother was the only person in my life to ever show me unconditional love and I just couldn’t do that to her. My mom & dad, yes, my grandmother, no. But sometimes, that’s not even enough, because there is a constant thought in another part of your brain that says that the person you love, you are so mean to them, and you don’t appreciate everything they do for you, and they would just be better off without you.

So, please, drop the “if only’s” from your encouragements. And I know you will if you read this, because you have shown that you are compassionate people.

Now, for the rest of you.

Seriously? What do you know? What do you know of the distress of the depressed and suicidal person? How is it that you see fit to condemn the dead with your words of self-righteousness? “Mean?” “Selfish?” I think you just described yourselves.

Suicide is neither mean nor selfish. Now, there are people who hold threats of suicide over the heads of others. I know this because my mother has been threatening suicide my entire life. Seriously threatening it. It is a manipulative tool that I often fell for because I was suicidal and I wanted to help her not feel the way I did. But people who do that are not suicidal.

The vast majority of suicidal people will probably not even leave you with a parting note. There will be no tear filled video recording of their lament. It is something they have always struggled with alone, and that is how they will see fit to die. Alone, keeping their thoughts inside, knowing that it’s bad enough they’ve ended their pain, it would be worse if people knew their thoughts at the end as well.

As I’ve already written, the suicidal person doesn’t think like you. They can’t deal with problems as awesomely as you apparently do. Heck, there are days I can’t even face the librarian to pay my past due fees. You have no freaking idea and those of us who do would appreciate you keeping your judgments of our mental condition off our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

There is one more group of ill-informed people I must deal with before I finish, and that is people who say things like “Why didn’t they seek help sooner?” I don’t know why others don’t but I have a long list of reasons I don’t. And only one of them has to do with the high cost of treatment.

1) When I was 13, I told a group of friends about my struggles. One of them, deeply concerned for me, told my mother. My “christian” mother told me that no one gave a damn about my problems.

2) Still stupid enough to trust my “christian” mother because, well, she’s my mother and everyone always says your parents love you more than anyone else, I told her, when I was about 15, about my struggles. She told me that God was preparing me for a life of being completely alone with no friends or people to care for me, then she went on to share a story about a woman who was a POW and was locked in a small box for her imprisonment. That, she said, was God’s calling for me.

(As an aside, I think you all now know why I left and went to live with my grandparents.)

3) Fast forward to 1997, I asked my “christian” uncle for prayer for my depression. He told me I was letting the devil have a foothold.

4) Then, on to 2002, I was hospitalized in the psych ward and hoped that finally I would get the help I needed. Unfortunately, all my asking for help did was make my husband uncomfortable, and I don’t think he was too keen on the cost of the therapy, he never encouraged me to continue. I told a friend I thought I was close to because we’d been through some tough times together about my hospitalization, she changed the subject. Our pastor was told, he never discussed it with me.

Now, of course, growing up in the church, most of my experiences are with Christians, who, honestly, should know better, and since they don’t and basically treat the mentally ill like pariahs I can’t imagine it’s any better out there in the world where there is no Scripture to admonish the people to care for the downcast. Like I said, I don’t know his particular circumstance, but I do know exactly what he was feeling.

I’d like to add the following for future reference for, say, when a young person commits suicide and you are all set to condemn their parents.

1) I sought, from our old pastor, help for Farmer Boy for some serious issues and was sent to counseling, and never asked about it again. Let me explain, he knew *exactly* what was happening, but didn’t care enough to follow up.

2) The “christian” counselor suggested our family had a demon.

3) When I finally confronted our pastor over his inattentiveness I thought we were finally on the same page, then I told him my continued concerns and he told me that as long as my son’s theology was good, he’d be fine. Pretty sure that’s the same as saying, “Look, you prayed the prayer of salvation, there will be no more problems in your life.”

4) Not satisfied with the “help” there, I went to another church (not our current church) and sought help. I was told that our boys would be gay because they dance ballet and that the solution to my son’s problems was to crack down on him with severe discipline and also to force him to cut his hair.

Yep. That’s the help out there. And don’t even get me started on seeking help for post-partum depression. That’s a terrifying story, stuff of freaking nightmares.

So, to the compassionate who have read through all this, keep up your beautiful work, people like me really do appreciate it. For the rest of you judgmental jerks, just shut up. You’re only making it worse.

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