Friday, April 2, 2010

For D- I hope this will help and give you peace

Recently D, a reader, stumbled on this blog and asked the following question,

Hi Susan,

My brother commtted suicide last month. IT was today a month ago that we buried him. We used to talk about suicide becasue we have so much of it the family. He had a lot of life blows all at once, and I really thought he was getting better. What I believe is that he had a 'fuck it' day and could not ride it out. Of course no one knew he had purchased 2 guns at Christmas, not even his best friend. He and I talked everyday and he never told me. I read your posts and I know you struggle with this issue, as I do also, and now it feels so close to me like riding the rim of a black hole. Has anyone in your family ever committed suicide ?>

I spent almost two weeks trying to write an answer to this. Document after document put into Word, and deleted. Words not knowing what to say, and then not feeling they were good enough. What do you say to a woman who's world has turned upside down by the untimely death of a family member? "I am sorry", just doesn't cut it, and "I understand, doesn't seem to be enough.

D I don't know what to tell you. So let me try my best to answer your questions, and I hope I can help you and you can find some solace in my answers.

You asked if anyone in my family has committed suicide. Yes and no. I was adopted when I was about seven or eight months old. So the people I consider my family, are my family but not my biological family. In that family, no suicides. But in my biological family, yes. Yes, and Yes, Lets see if this makes sense.

I know little to nothing about my biological mother and nothing about my biological father. I can piece together some recessive genes from either birth parent, blonde hair, blue eyes, second toe longer than pinkie toe, unable to curl tongue, negative blood type. I didn't find out til several years ago that my birth mother's family had a strange and horrid family tree. According to the social worker who interviewed her and her parents, and who's files I saw with the names redacted, every male on one side of the family was an alcoholic and most of the females were too. (I got those genes). But what shook me to my core was the fact that my would be great grandparents, cousins, great aunts and uncles- most of them were described as "schizophrenic" which was the term they were using to lump both manic depressives and schizophrenics back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and the majority of them either died from alcoholism or suicide or (sit down for this one) lobotomies. I swear I am not making this up. Several of my third, fourth cousins and great aunts and uncles had lobotomies done in the 50s and 60s. My birth mother had a grandparent who had a lobotomy and one who suicided. I probably escaped this by being born when I did, since they no longer do lobotomies and getting sober when I did.

I still suffer from suicidal ideation. For the last two weeks I have been walking that tightrope again, wanting to jump off, and the only thing tethering me to Earth is my mother and my cat. I live in fear of my mother finding my body, and knowing if anything should happen to me, no one will love my cat as much as I do. But there are so many days, so many of them when I cannot get out of bed, feel there is no purpose for my life and just pray and wish for a heart attack so I can die.

I have had friends who have died by their own hands, my friend Chris died that way and I strongly feel he was a suicide, and I have dedicated my blog to the memory of my friend Kevin who died. I know there are several followers who have started blogs in memory of friends and family members they have lost. Some outstanding bloggers are Christa, and Will. Wendy has a blog in memory of her son. I also know of several others who have lost family members to suicide but don't write about it,

I found it helpful to volunteer at a suicide prevention center, it grounds me, and takes me out of my bad place to help others and try to get them out of their bad place too. I've suffered from suicidal ideation since I was four, made three attempts, two which should have and could have been lethal. To this day, I don't know why they failed. Maybe it wasn't my time. Maybe I was meant to stay around and write this blog entry. I don't know.

I do know that I am glad that somehow you found my blog, and you popped by. I hoped I helped you. I know it sounds silly, but the last two weeks when I was at my lowest, I kept thinking of you, and kept on going because of you.

9 comments:

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

I think you were definitely meant to.

I hope life turns upward soon, for you and for D.

susan said...

Thank you JOurney. One Day at a time, no? ONe day at a time.

I hope I was able to help D. I am worried about her.

Mary LA said...

Such a sensitive and revealing response. As you know, Susan, my mother committed suicide and there is not a day when I don't still wonder and grieve.

Andrew said...

Susan, I have had two brothers die by their own hand. I made an attempt myself in 1975, at 23 years of age. I purposely overdosed with heroin and should have died, but my friends came back sooner than I expected and managed to revive me.

Alcoholism runs in my genes also, I have had at least one cousin take his own life as well.

I have never been in such a dark place again, and do not wish to take my own life again, but like you have mentioned, I am ready to go at any time and have no fear around death.

I just don't know. Things are not going well in my experience just now and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I sometimes share in a blog when I am in a bad place, but mostly deal with things myself.

jimmounts said...

You have a lot of parallels with my wife. She was adopted and never knew either birthparent. He was in his 50's, she was in her teens. After she got pregnant and decided to give the baby up for adoption he took his own life. Whether it was because of mental illness or trying to escape the scandal...who knows? His getting involved with a girl so young doesn't speak well of his good judgment at the least.

The laws in Virginia in 1959 dictated closed adoption records. About 12 years ago we asked the agency to try and find the birthmother and they did find her, but she refused contact. That hurt.

The kicker for my wife is that her adopting mother's family has some "history." Her mom's father committed suicide and her mother was sickly (I wonder what kind) and she was raised by her sisters. One sister spent most of her adult life in an institution and my wife's mother has been deemed by my wife's doctor as narcissistic. My wife's dad was a minister and my wife's mom was far too worried about the family's image. To this day my wife is pretty much afraid of her mother.

I read several of your posts to my wife. The ECT post had her in tears. She was so bad early on that ECT was a possibility for her. I'm just stunned by what you have to go through, Susan. I wish I had answers, but I can offer you my feeble prayers and friendship.

Guarded By An Angel said...

I always struggle to find the right words to posts such as this and usually pass by without leaving a comment but I was so touched by your story I really want to say hello.

I know how very lonely the long nights can be and have found a great deal of comfort when I met fellow sufferers and found out I was not alone.

Please know that you are not alone either and although I have never met you and we probbably live thousands of mies apart I will remember you in my prayers.

Kindest Regards
Angel.

Sherry in NH said...

Susan,
Don't underestimate the place socio-economic status played in diagnosis, placement and treatment in your biological family's day. In the course of my work I saw many people who were placed in our state institution for the retarded who most assuredly were not at all mentally slow. There were no foster homes so they were "diagnosed" and dumped. You are correct about schizophrenia being used as a wastebasket dx. "Organic brain syndrome" was another. People ended up in the state hospital for decades, undergoing various "treatments" for the crime of being abuse victims or poor.

I'm certainly not saying there wasn't a ton of mental illness and self medication with alcohol going on in that branch of your biological family. But unless those folks were rich and well connected, chances are the picture is at least partially clouded by social and economic factors.

Lastly, never forget that one branch is not all of you. You have many strengths. I'm very glad you are here.

Deb said...

Thank you. Today I feel sad and a bit numb. I wore my brothers shorts today to go for a walk. Some days I miss him so much. The realtionship with my 2 sisters seems to have changed. I am the only one going to a grief counselar. My sisters say they don't need to, they are fine and dealing with things appropriately...then I ask myself, well then why don't they call anymore, why can't we talk ! I don't know. My little sister was going to come see me for the day and she blew a gasket (in my opinion) and is now not coming. Seems to stem from the fact that I asked her if she wanted to go to the grief counselar with me, I already had the appt set up and then we could go and spend a fun day together. She went a bit mad (crazy mad) and then we had a fight and are not speaking. But they are fine !! I miss Hank, my brother. Some days I can't believe he actually went thru with it. Some days I think it took a lot of courage for him to shoot himself, and other days I yell into the sky that I am going to kick his ass from here to mississippi next time I see him. But mostly I miss him. I have been unable to find any suicide support groups here, I live in a very Baptist area and I am not a church goer. I like the idea Susan of volunteering time at a suicide prevention group and am going to look into that. I am going ona 2week road trip end of this month. A long time friend is coming out and we are driving down to Florida, see her family in Tampa and then head on down to my folks in Boca. My brother was a Buddhist !! guns Buddism go figure ! anyway, I am going to sepnd some time at his Songa dn with some of his spiritual friends and then with his best friend and my parents. I am looking forward to the trip, for the windshield time, for time with Kathy, for seeing my parents who are in their 80's and for steeping myself in my brothers life for a week. Thank you again Susan and and the other woman who wrote the beautiful letter to her children. My Mom is not ready to go to Hank's grave she said, but ,my Dad and I want to go.
I still feel numb but the weather change is definetly helping.

Syd said...

Susan, depression runs in my mother's side and my father's side has the alcoholism. So far I have dodged both "bullets". I saw what depression did to my beautiful mother later in life. Yet, she was helped by ECT and lived until she was 95. I know that she had a biological depression. There was nothing that I could do except take her for appointments and get her help. Thanks for being here. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard.

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