death


http://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2016/06/my-world-would-be-so-different-if-you-were-still-alive/

I know my last couple of posts have been downers but it has been a difficult few weeks here in our area. In the past two weeks, we have had three suicides in our county in the past two weeks. The youngest was 14, one was 22 and graduated with my second kiddo, and the other was a young mother. We have had nine in our county this year already and several more in our area. A friend of mine had a coworkers son in the neighboring county kill himself on Facebook the other night. It is becoming rather frightening for all of us.

For me, my middle kiddo having a classmate kill herself was very difficult for me to handle. She has been suicidal in the past and definitely been depressed off and on for a few years. When I heard about her classmate, I had no idea how close they were. I knew she had to know her. They had to know each other as our town is small and we are all connected and the kids all know each each other in school. I was so worried about her all day. I was so relieved to know that they weren’t close at all but still have had concerns about her since. She appears to be okay but studies do show that suicide is contagious.

I spent all day wondering who was next. Why it is contagious. Why do people get permission to go ahead and go through with it when other people do? I have always wondered that. I have never understood that but it is true. I have read a lot on theories of why this past week but I think I have one idea why. One of the reasons I never acted on my plans was I was afraid of failing and having to live with the consequences of that. I didn’t want to live with people upset with me for attempting to die. I think one of the reasons that it is contagious is we see people  succeed and think maybe we can, too. Is that one of the reasons that there are more attempts after a suicide in an area? It is a theory of mine. There is a town summit on Thursday addressing our crisis and where to get help, what to watch for, etc. I imagine that it will be highly attended as this is affecting our small community so hard. I hope that we can stop this from continuing in our area.

Don’t worry, I am not depressed or contemplating at all at this time. I am just saddened by all the recent deaths. I am grateful that I haven’t been close to any of the people that have died but I have friends that have been. Survivors have such a hard time.

Depression….. aah that horrible subject that is taboo. I have to talk about it periodically. I refuse to be silent anymore.

Depression entered my life when I was fourteen. By all accounts, I should have been happy. For the most part, I had a great life but I was lonely. A lonely that made no sense. I was sad. A sadness that made no sense. I no longer wanted to live and that made no sense. I felt guilty for feeling the way I did, which made it even worse. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I felt shame for having my feelings. I knew that telling my mom would just make her upset and she would tell me to pull myself up and get over it. She wouldn’t be being insensitive but she didn’t understand depression. She truly has no concept of it. I read a book called Lisa, Bright and Dark. The girl was going crazy and then I wondered if that was what was happening to me. I must have read that book a dozen times. I related to her.  Why was I so sad for no reason? I would pray to my god every night to not let me wake up. This went on for years. I got involved with smoking, drinking, drugs, even sex to try and make me feel better. Every day I thought about dying and how I didn’t want to live anymore. I thought about ways to kill myself. I had a knife to my wrist more times than I can count.  No one would listen I was supposed to be happy so I faked it the best I could. Eventually, I went to visit my dad and he took me to a therapist. That man was the first to save my life. I didn’t see him long but enough to give me tools to keep going. I continued my destructive behavior for a long time but no longer was praying or wishing to die daily.

Flash forward a few years. I was doing much better until a boyfriend and I broke up. We were going to get married. I was the one that decided to break it off but it was so painful. I just knew that no one would ever love me. I was unlovable and always had been (in my mind). I remember being in my apartment in school and just sobbing that I wanted to die and crying out for my former therapist. Somehow, my roommates and I tracked him down and I called  him across the country. Funny how I had seen him in the Philippines and this was preinternet but I found him here in the states. He and I are still in contact to this day. I was is patient in 1984.

After that incident, I managed to plug along with very little depression and few if any suicidal thoughts for years until 2008. Things collapsed for me then. In 2007, we had a string of deaths in our lives:  One of my favorite football players was killed Jan 1st., Dr Bustamante, Kieth, Carly, Ray, Sam, Mrs Faust, My grandfather, Kit, my cousin, and even my dog.  I actually think there were a couple more but I cannot think of who it was. It was emotional turmoil. I was struggling so hard to manage and survive all the pain and heartbreak around me. The first week of January 2008, my husband told me that he no longer wanted to be married to me. That was it. After a year of crying for deaths, I felt like my life was over. I told him he could have the kids because I knew I would die. It wasn’t very long after that I was making a plan. I was drinking almost a bottle of wine every night. I was researching all my meds to see what combination would definitely kill me. I did NOT want to fail this too. I had failed everything in my life, or so I thought. My husband would yell at me daily to pull it together. That just made me worse. My eldest kid had no idea what to do. My husband would yell at me to go get help when I told him that I wanted to die but he never took me for help. I have no idea how many times I TOLD HIM THAT I WAS GOING TO KILL MYSELF. He never took my pills away, never spoke to our doctor, never asked anyone for help. Maybe he was hoping I would do it. I don’t know.

My turning point was being in the car with my youngest. Someone was passing someone else in front of me. I had to put on the brakes to avoid them. My first thought was to hit the gas and unbuckle. That would have been so easy. I had thought about driving off a mountain so many times. I didn’t want to fail my suicide. The only reason my brakes were used is my son was sitting next to me. That was my wake up call. I went to my doctor and was put on antidepressants and started working with the tools I had learned all those years ago. The ex got  angry that I “only went on meds” because he didn’t understand that I already had the tools. I gradually got better and when he eventually filed for divorce, I swore to him that I would not let him kill me.

Last year, I got my semi-colon tattoo for suicide awareness and prevention. My story is not over yet and I am determined to never let that demon take over in my life again. I will speak LOUDLY and PROUDLY of my success. I will be here for anyone that needs to talk. If I can save one life, it is worth the tears I cry every time I recall that pain and loneliness. I no longer am ashamed of having depression. It is not my fault. It is not a weakness. It should no longer be a stigma.

Today has been such a difficult day. My friend R told me that he was on the way to a trauma cleanup for work this morning. I asked if it was a suicide. We don’t have a lot of violent crime around here and have had several suicides this year already. I just had a gut feeling that was the situation this morning. It made me sad when he said yes. We were discussing how it is for him emotionally to clean up these sites and then I saw the article in the paper. Twenty two year old girl that graduated with my daughter shot herself last night. We have lost so many young people on our small community over the past ten years. I know there is a numbness there for many of us. This was the first suicide of one of our young ones though. We have lost a couple to cancer and horrible accidents but not by their own hands.

At first, my reaction was about our losing another young person but within minutes the suicide aspect hit me. My kiddo that graduated with her has struggled with depression for years. I actually live in an area where everyone has a gun. I wanted to get one when my ex moved out. We have bears and mountain lions around here. I live in the country and am not getting younger. I could be vulnerable. She came to me one day and told me  to not get a gun because she couldn’t trust herself with a gun in the house. Currently, she is doing well and is on her meds but she tends to quit taking them and I can tell within days. I also have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts off and on since I was fourteen. 2008 was the most recent for me and I was working on the plan. I never had the courage to go through with it. I am glad now. I am doing well now. I take my medication faithfully and am determined to not go down that path again.

I kept thinking about this poor girl and how lonely she must have felt. I kept thinking about how brave, yes brave, it was for her to pull that trigger. I kept thinking about how she felt before she did it. I kept thinking that it was so sad that she never reached out to anyone or if she did, that they didn’t hear her. I kept thinking about the mess she left behind- all the broken hearts, her friends and family. They will have to live the rest of their lives wondering if they could have stopped her.

I spent most of the day wondering how my kiddo was. I was wondering if she knew what happened to her classmate. How well she knew her. They had so many mutual friends. I couldn’t reach her. I was hoping that she wasn’t here at home an emotional mess or worse.

I thought about my friend whose daughter was also in this class. Her daughter died their freshman year. My friend is a teacher in the school. I wondered how she was going to take this and of course, her Facebook post broke my heart tonight. So many people I love are hurting tonight. Our small town has lost another young life. A vibrant life with so much ahead of her and this time it was her choice. That poor poor girl. I wish she had reached out for help.

I looked at my semi-colon tattoo so many times today. I am determined to not get to that point again. When I got home, my kiddo and I held each other so tightly. I begged her to promise to not to ever to this and to continue to be honest with me about this aspect of her life. I am not sure I could survive her doing this.

I will never forget leaving work at the hospital and seeing the flight for life helicopter coming in. It is never something you want to see but I remember on that day having this strange urge to turn around and go to the ER. Had I known what I found out when I got home, I would have.

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Maddie and her mom

I got home and did my evening Facebook catch up and found out that in that helicopter was a young girl that I had known since she was four. She was my middle kiddos classmate. She was one of her best friends when they were young. She was a girl in my girl scout troop when I was a leader. She had been to my house many times and my kiddo had been to hers.  My family and I loved this girl. Her parents are teachers at the local schools and loved by community and kids alike. Maddie had been skiing since she could walk. She was an expert skier. It was the last day of winter break and she was up on the mountain with some friends while the parents were in teacher planning. Dear sweet Maddie took and edge on an easy part of the mountain and hit a tree. She lacerated her liver and died on the operating table. We are a small community that has had a lot of loss and the loss of Maddie hit us all very hard. She was a freshman in high school. She was nice to everyone. She was a unique soul and we all will always love her. She was in band and the band commissioned Dr Randall Standridge to compose a song in her name. In 2012, the band performed With Every Winter’s Breath at the local college and brought tears to everyone in attendance. Our dear sweet Maddie would be 21 now and probably near finishing college.  Instead, her younger sister suddenly became the oldest and she is a freshman with my son in college. Our community will never forget this day and Maddie’s smile and laughter. She was another reminder to all of us that you never know when your time is up. She was fourteen and an expert skier and died from a fall on an easy run. The tree she hit is decorated and people stop by and see it all the time.

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Me at her tree  in 2014

Maddie is one of the many reasons that I will never take anyone for granted again. Maddie was full of love and our town will never forget her. Hug your loved ones extra tight and never forget to tell them you love them. Freak accidents happen and you never know what today holds.

2007 was one of the toughest of my life. I turned out to be numb for much of the year. 2006 ended on a high note and I woke to a phone call from my mother real early. That was not a usual occurrence for me. She called to let me know that one of my favorite players on the Denver Broncos had been murdered in downtown Denver the night before. If I had known that was just the beginning, I don’t know how I would have reacted. As it was, I was heart-broken. Darrent Williams was a great cornerback but he also had a passion for the game that was exhilarating. He always had a great smile and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw him. He was young and had potential for being a great in the league. I loved watching him play or be interviewed. A few years later, my children gave me a collectors photo of him for my Broncos room. He will always be remembered by me.

If there was any year in my life that I would remove if I could, it would be 2007. Williams was just the beginning. I had so many deaths to deal with that year. Co-workers, friends, kids friends parents, family members, friends kids, kids friends, my dog.  Deaths were unexpected and some were expected. There was old age, cancer, car accidents, brain aneurysm, and stroke. I spent most the year in mourning and scared about what was next. I spent most of the year worrying about my kids and how they would handle all the death in their lives. I spiraled into a deep depression that I truly believe was the beginning of the end of my marriage. 2008 started with the first time my ex told me that he didn’t want to be married anymore. I understand. I cried almost very day the year prior. I just thought that once I got better, we would get better. I do think he got depressed too but would never get help. He spiraled into anger and withdrew from everyone and everything.

It took me a while to dig out and a lot of work. I will probably blog about many of these people that died in 2007 this year. That year changed me. In the long run, it was for the better. It has made me stronger though I am pretty cynical when people get sick now. I hate the way it affected my children. It was the beginning of a lot of deaths for them. They have all been affected so much at such young ages. They all had a classmate missing at graduation. Our little town has had a child missing at graduation almost every year for the past 8 years. I think only one year was the exception. I am not going to focus on the negative but I do need to talk about this. Death is such a difficult subject that we all try to avoid BUT it is something we all have to deal with. Our time is so short on this planet and we need to appreciate every day and everything we have. The song by Five For Fighting in 100 Years always hits me hard.