The suicide of Robin Williams really hit me hard. I suspect because I grew up laughing with him. Perhaps because he hid his depression behind a smile and that makes me sad. Someone once asked me why I make so many jokes about my pain. And I said better than crying. We all learn to mask our suffering and some of us choose to make people laugh, to smile, to laugh and then people think you can’t be in pain right? Or perhaps losing anyone to suicide makes me sad, when no one should have to feel that way in the end. I always feel a pang in my heart every time we lose someone in the community to suicide which happens all too often. I think there is a world of people who knew him personally and will mourn him.
The stigma with suicide though still runs rampant though and while I have seen so many people understand this death and so many others were caused by depression… others feel they can judge those who die in this way. They say they are selfish. That they should have just got help before it got that serious. That they should not have let their families suffer for their pain. I have seen this on twitter and I have seen it on Facebook. I have seen it recently and I have seen it before and I will see it again.
That suicide causes pain to be passed to others.
And people think these things because they do not understand depression. And because they do not understand suicide. And they do not even understand the two do not necessarily have to go together.
This is one thing I want people to understand about suicide:
Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources of coping with pain
Physical, mental or emotional pain. In my case, it was physical pain.
In my case, my suicide attempt was not this spontaneous occurrence. With profound pain came suicidal ideation that I fought off every time. Bravo me. I survived more times than you can count. Was that then selfless of me or just survival instincts? We want to live. We love people. But there was a war within me and one I was losing.
My existence was torture and it seemed Unreasonable that I should have to exist this way. Irrational that I would choose to exist in that pain, and in fact choose to make it worse. Why would any sane person do that? And all avenues I had tried to reduce that pain had been used up. Society, my employer and my doctor at the time were all by their lack of caring and disinterest stating they wanted me to suffer. So this was my existence. Forever. And forever is a long time when you are in pain. A very long time. You see how endless and indefinite it is. If you just knew how long it was you had to go on. You begin to think how nice it would be to have a fatal stroke because… that would not be your fault. Then you imagine if you could kill yourself but make it look like an accident then no one would have to suffer with the knowledge that you had killed yourself. Clearly, I knew I was suicidal but these were Bad Days with Bad Thoughts. And my bad pain days were usually status migraine stretches, so I just had to wait them out… until I could get back to normal pain days. Normal hell. Then my workplace would give me these ultimatums. If you do not work every day… we will do something unpleasant. And that would cause more pain, more stress, more suffering. Until that last ultimatum in that last status migraine…
Do not ever tell me someone is selfish when they are suicidal until you have been in that mental space. Until you have gone down that slippery slope of thinking and reached that line… and crossed it. You have no idea what goes on in that space. No clue. We do think of the consequences of our actions. It is just that first, we understand that grief will end and our suffering has no end unless we make it end. That is the first misconception our brain convinces us of. Well with physical pain we are very aware there literally is no end. But pain has a way of consuming your capacity to see reason as well, but that is another rant. (I will just say extreme pain warps reality as well) Second, that our families will be better off without us. We are a burden after all. We are holding them back. Imagine how much different and better their lives will be if we removed ourselves? Of course, they would not Want that… but if we did it for them, it would, in fact, be better after they grieved for us. I myself was sure of this. I also knew my insurance company covered suicide so I knew financially some of my expenses would be covered… an added bonus really. Frankly, I assumed my existence was really rather worthless. Just this endless mass of pain that has no real meaning and worth. Except essentially to torment me… and That seemed like the ultimate madness really. You can rationalize suicide. You can slide down that slippery slope until you have essentially made it make Perfect Sense. I even explained it to a therapist after the fact and she could not even argue with me… as in she could not explain to me how my reasoning was not rational. She should have been able to because there should be flaws in the reasoning but we can really have quite an in-depth rational going on.
And so, no point arguing is there? There are finding reasons to live I find. Finding ways to live. Finding what you need to change and figuring out how to do it. Living until living works for you. Seeing a psychologist is something I chose to do to help with pain management because pain management is what I was severely lacking in. And it was damned hard. I was traumatized by the suicide attempt. I think sometimes people think an attempt is just a cry for attention but in fact, it is just… didn’t get it right for whatever reason. In my case poor timing on my part. I know I could have had good timing and not be here right now because I had done the rest of it quite well. But I will say… it should be taken very seriously and the cause taken very seriously and the treatment taken very seriously. In my case, it wasn’t really. The pain wasn’t treated. The work situation remained. And I became depressed from it. But after that… when I shook free from that I was motivated to change my doctor, see the psychologist, start managing my pain in new ways and took a long leave from work. I suspect I might not be here if I had not made those changes. Pain like that when not treated can really consume a person.
In the end, when you survive a suicide attempt you are always at risk for another attempt. There is less of a chance of survival with a second attempt. We have to make that choice to understand the future does not mean endless suffering. The future can bring with it positive changes if we look for the right solutions and get the right sort of help that we need. It is not always easy to find and it is not always an easy solution… sometimes it is a damn hard fight, a constant endless battle to manage our suffering… but better than it would be with no help at all. With no hope at all.