As long as I’m being so naked today I might as well talk about something else, suicidal children. Someone at work was talking about kids not ever being suicidal and I couldn’t tell them how wrong they were. Work is not the place for that kind confession if you want any kind of promotion but they were wrong. Profoundly wrong, I know because I was that kid.
Some of my earliest remembered thoughts were about ways to do it. Probably why I did some of the dumb things I did do like trying to fly off the roof to escape. I used to ride in our car to church on Sunday before there were seatbelts in cars and wonder how much it would hurt to open the door and throw myself out on the 101 freeway. How much would it hurt to throw myself down stairs? How much would it hurt to be hit by a car? These were thoughts I had all the time.
I found out as an adult that my mom knew about them but didn’t do anything except send me to my grandmother’s house which was about the only place I never had those kind of thoughts. It was also the only place I felt loved and those two things went together hand in hand. I also knew from an early age that my mom thought I was defective. I never would have had the eye surgery if mom hadn’t been shamed into by two of my parent’s close friends who happened to be doctors. They kept after mom to do it after one of their daughters had the experimental surgery and it worked and mom felt backed into a corner and mom hated to look bad so I got my surgery. But I knew it was to keep from being seen as a bad parent not because it was the right thing to do. Mom could be vicious at home but never in front of anyone she thought mattered. I always wondered how she kept it up at the choir retreat except for the fact that we were pretty much on our own and out of our parent’s hair for the weekend running in the gang of kids.
This wasn’t helped by having a first grade teacher who made no bones about how much she hated me. She announced in class that my blindness was a punishment from God on my parents, she was an Orthodox Jew. She didn’t like that I was a lefty and took to beating my hand with a wide wooden ruler because she didn’t like catering to the kid whose arm stuck out. My wandering eye grossed her out so she used to send me on errands all over school so she didn’t have to look at me. And she insisted back in 1960 that I be put on Ritalin when it was new because I was hyper active. I still remember waking up 5 days in a row in the nurse’s office because they couldn’t make the dose small enough so they finally gave up but the real problem was that even though my sight was heavily impaired I could read and no one else in the class could and she didn’t know what to do with me. The crowning moment in that class was the morning I told my mom I was sick and she sent me to school anyway and I projectile vomited all over her. Best. Day. Ever! In that class.
That year was so bad it’s probably why I never told anyone I was molested by the man next door that year either. By then I had assumed I wasn’t worth anything.
Life sucked to be me and not in control of anything. If you want to train someone how to be a depressive that was the way to go about it.
Being depressed isn’t necessarily a dark place but it is a place where everything is heavy and sometimes just too much work to keep up. Too much effort to move, too much effort to live or even look up from where you seem to be.
I had to teach myself how to view the world with wonder and magic, that started when I could finally see but the heaviness is always there lurking, I just can’t let the monster in.
Rarely does a celebrity death impact me. I don’t know them and they aren’t really part of my life. A few have like when John Denver died but not usually. Robin Williams is another exception. He was brilliant. He was funny and like most comedians had a deep dark place. I honour you Robin and I say your name that you may live.
I watched Twitter explode last night both with lovely remembrances of Robin and with well-meaning but stupid things about depression. All the suicide hotlines in the world can’t help someone bent on ending unimaginable pain. Unless you have suffered from the hauntings of the Black Dog, you have no idea. None what so ever. Suicide is an attempt to control the pain when nothing else has worked and you want the pain to stop and you really don’t care what others think, the pain is so great. It’s easy to say, “get help” if you have never been there. I have.
When I got dumped after a 4 year relationship I was in so much pain I decided that was the answer. I’m here because I had an intuitive friend who made an emergency call to my therapist because even having a therapist sometimes doesn’t help. I went to work and cleaned up my desk so whoever came after me wouldn’t have a mess to clean up and while there I got a phone call and I guess I sounded weird to her because it scared her. I went home, took a shower, got in my pj’s and took my pillow and put it down by the heater and blew out the pilot and lay down to go to sleep. And the phone started to ring, I ignored it. I ignored it through the first message from my therapist into the answering machine. She kept calling and she finally said something I heard. She told me it was alright to do if it was an action on my part and not a reaction. That finally got through and I got up and picked up the phone. I promised to wait an hour and I was so mad about a promise that hadn’t been kept that I had to keep this one and she knew that. She kept calling me once an hour all night because I wouldn’t promise more than an hour and the next morning she somehow got me to come to her home office for a session of over 2 hours and she never charged me. I’m here because she did that. The friend who called her has never forgiven me and so haven’t several others and that was back in 1989.
What most people don’t know is that I would do it again if I thought it was necessary. This time I would have an active reason but if I got a diagnosis of a terminal disease, I’d do it without turning back because I wouldn’t want the people I love to suffer watching me go and I’d want control of it. Terry Pratchett is right that for some people it’s an option, for others it’s not and I respect that.
The Black Dog tends to be genetic and run in families and the Black Dog has a fondness for Scots and Scandinavians and I have both bloods running in my veins. There is a reason the MMPA was started for a bunch of Scandinavian farmers in Minnesota. The Scandinavian countries have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. All of them are in the top 20 and together it would be higher.
The stigma of suicide is a Christian phenomenon. They think it’s a sin. I don’t, sometimes it’s taking control of the uncontrollable. And there can be no shame in that. I’m not sorry I tried it. I learned a lot about myself and I won’t ever take it lightly. Every day I am here, it is because I choose to be here and that is more than most people can say. I do not float through life like a leaf in a stream. I am not ashamed of it but I don’t talk about because other people freak out and start lecturing me. Don’t want to hear it. If I should ever find myself in that circumstance again, no one will know until it’s done and there will be no mess to clean up. Nothing that will harm another person like I almost blew up the house, that was dumb.
So Robin, I understand what may have made you do it and if it was the only way to stop the pain, I understand that too. Blessings on your journey and hope if you have another life you don’t find it so painful even though the pain and your wit is what made you so funny. Captain, my Captain.