When you’re deep in the bowels of depression, that’s what the idea of suicide is to you, escape. All you think about is the end of your pain. To me it was the endless running in my brain of foreign thoughts. Of how good it would feel to just stop thinking. How good it would feel to stop having to live with this evil soup in my brain that made life a torture.
I had spent the last year and a half having genetically modified mouse cells intravenously added to my blood stream one a drop at a time, or shooting them into my belly through prefilled syringes. The infusions and injections did their job. My body was limber and pain free. But my mind. My mind fought each of those microscopic cells like a born warrior willing to give its own life for the eradication of the enemy. I stopped taking the biologics and let my body fall back into ruin because that pain was so much easier than the hell in my head.
When I was taking the drugs there was a tiny part of my brain that was able to stay afloat just enough to let me know that the thoughts I was having didn’t really belong to me. I know there are people whose entire brain is submerged and I don’t know whether to feel good or bad about that. They’re in constant pain but they don’t know anything else, so that gives them some measure of protection. My therapist says that the highest risk of suicide is when the person is getting better. When the depression is at its worst one finds it hard to get out of bed, much less find the energy to plan and commit suicide.
The only reason I’m alive today is because of my mom. I knew that if I killed myself it would devastate her and she might not survive. I had no desire to take her with me. Thank god I understood the damage that I would do to her, because I didn’t understand the damage I would do to everyone else who knew me. A suicide is violent act. Like a suicide bomber, it damages everyone around you.
In my group therapy, there was a beautiful woman in her fifties. We walked together on the way to our cars, we exchanged numbers. She called me. “How are you able to laugh while you’re in so much pain?” “I don’t know.” “But what are you doing?” “I’m doing all the work they give us. I follow-.“ Buzzzzzzzz. She’d hung up on me. I sighed and waited to see her at group. When I asked where she was that next group, I was told she had moved to a more intensive group. Oh good, I thought. She needed it. Three months later a former group member runs into a current group member and tells him how he saw her obituary in the paper.
The rumor burns through the group like wild fire. She’s dead. Our group therapist confirms it that night. She never left our group for another. She killed herself. The what ifs tumble through my brain along with every tool therapy has given me. My recovery is most important. I am not responsible for other people. You can’t save everyone. My conscience mind says, “It wasn’t your fault.” My unconscious runs through a series of pictures; she hangs up the phone and picks up the pills, the rope, the gun. If I had just called back she wouldn’t have been able to hold the phone and her weapon of choice at the same time.
Every suicide brings me back to that buzzing on the phone and the bomb that followed, exploding guilt and shame through my heart, her husband’s heart, our therapist’s heart, and the heart and head everyone that knew her.
It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault.
May she rest in peace. It wasn’t her fault either.