Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Best Friend Committed Suicide


WARNING: The following post may be a trigger for those
who are sensitive to content about suicide.

* * *

I got the dreaded call after midnight, on the eve of Thanksgiving.

My best friend killed herself.

My response was one of shock. It felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I started to panic as I rushed to wake up my husband who was asleep on the couch next to me. “She did it, she really did it!”

I was in disbelief because I couldn’t imagine a person I love, one I spent countless hours, even years, trying to help actually ending her life. Even today it’s hard for me to believe that she’s gone. Yet I think a part of me understood since I saw up close the relentless suffering she endured due to her childhood trauma and complicated mental illness. For her, it was finally over.

Before the call ended I was told that she planned her death ahead of time, a detail that still haunts me today.

There are moments now when all I can think about are her thoughts as she made these plans. Was she scared? Was she tormented over her decision or did she feel a sense of peace and relief knowing she had a plan in place? Did she feel anything at all?

What was she thinking as she looked at me, as she looked at her husband and kids, days leading up to her suicide? Did she want to tell us about her plans? Did she leave hints? Was she hoping we would stop her?

That night when I finally went to bed, I was unable to sleep. I cried mostly and I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing her face. It wasn’t the happy face that so many people remembered, the beautiful smile and bright eyes, but it was the final look she gave me when I saw her last. She looked hurt and defeated.

The ironic thing about suicide is that it doesn’t end the pain. It multiplies it and spreads it to those who are left behind. Like a bomb that explodes in a crowd, there are now wounded people everywhere, myself included.

My best friend was a mother, a wife, a sister and a friend to many.

She was one of us. A mother of a child with mental illness and an advocate for mental health. She was a follower on this very blog.

Through our years together, we talked endless hours about how to help our kids. How to get around the school system, how to get that IEP and pick the best therapist. We passed phone numbers of our favorite doctors the way other moms shared babysitters.

During this time, I also supported her through her own illness with calls, texts and hours of conversations. When she was feeling well, we had fun shopping, traveling or going out for frozen yogurt. We always laughed at our inside joke that I was teaching her to be more “girly” after taking her to see a chick flick movie for the first time. Being that we both loved working out, we exercised side-by-side throughout the week, using our time together as a mini support group. We were two moms, sharing our lives as we encouraged one another along the way.

Considering our circumstances, it shouldn’t be a surprise that suicide was a conversation topic more than once. We both shared our fear of it and our desire to protect our children from this very fate. Just months before her death, she volunteered and participated in a suicide prevention fundraiser in our community. She was truly dedicated to this cause.

That’s why her suicide is so hard for me to accept. I knew her better than most, I knew how much she cherished life and how much she wanted to overcome her own mental illness. I knew first-hand that suicide was never an option. Until her final act changed that.


* * *

I’ve been at a loss as to whether or not to share this recent tragedy with you. But after much consideration, I’ve decided to open up with hopes that in some way, her story can help others. From our one-on-one conversations, I know she wanted to share with you her own personal story on this blog. I just never imagined it would happen in this way. In my next post I will reflect on what led up to her suicide and the possible warning signs we missed.



No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.



6 comments:

  1. My heart goes out for your loss, but thank you for posting this. This is a reminder that mental illness is a deadly disease and that we should always remember that. This mother could be me. I suffer. I have to remember what the consequences of suicide are, what the legacy is, and to always ALWAYS prioritize my self care and plan for the care of my family. Thanks for the reminder. Much love.

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    1. You bring up an excellent point Deborah, self care is so important. It can be easy to want to take care of everyone else and that can have some permanent consequences. I know my friend struggled at times at making her therapy a priority when there was so much she was trying to do for her family.

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  2. My deepest condolences to you. To her husband. To her children. My husband, a father, brother,son, friend took his life almost 6 yrs ago. He planned it. Were there signs? Yes. Did I blame myself? Yes. Could his suicide have been prevented? I will never know. During this time of grief, pain, suffering I ask you to be gentle with yourself. You will second guess everything that led up to her choice 1000 times, you will drive your drive yourself insane and there will never be answer. Give yourself grace. Suicide is a pain like no other. Deep deep hugs to you. Xx

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    1. Thanks Zena for your support. I am so sorry to hear about your husband, I can't imagine what you have gone through and continue to go through. Yes, I have dealt with a lot of guilt over her death, everything you mentioned, I am working on keeping perspective and knowing that it wasn't my fault. But it isn't always easy.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I have been quietly stalking your blog for months. I am 19 years old, and have grown up in an amazing family. We had everything, had it all together, there was no abuse, we were home schooled and everything looked perfect. But it wasn't. The first time I attempted suicide I was 7. I recently was a hairbreadth from attempting it again. A friend of mine noticed, made me tell my therapist. Crisis response got called, I saw doctors, etc. In just a couple days I have an appointment for a bipolar assessment. It's incredible. I can't believe it. I'm finally getting help and maybe I will be able to live a normal life and not spend all my energy camouflaging the fact that I am not normal. Seeing your reaction to the suicide of your friend was very helpful for me. I have several friends that have put everything they know how into helping me. So seeing what their reaction might be like, it was helpful. Because I can't understand those things myself very well. So I just wanted to say, thank you.

    -AJ

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    1. I am glad this post was helpful AJ. Please tell someone if you ever have those thoughts again. I know without a doubt that my friend would change her mind if she could. As I told my son, as soon as a thought comes into your mind, tell your therapist, or those you can trust to help before the thought grows into something you can no longer control. I wish you the best with treatment, I know my son has benefitted greatly from his treatment. I wish the same for you!

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