I wrote a blog about how suicide is painless to anything but the survivors https://hellhappiness.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/suicide-is-anything-but-painless%E2%80%A6/ over two years ago. That came after attending a memorial service for a former co-worker of my wife, I re-read it late last month, after attending the funeral of a family friend who had just killed herself.

This time it hit me even harder. She had been diagnosed with bi-polar depression – wild mood swings, bursts of anger and jubilation, but ultimately despair and no desire to do the hard work of helping herself. She spent a considerable amount of energy denying she had a problem until it was too late.

As a result, she left behind a whole lot of questions that will never be answered. Virtually everyone at the funeral was crying. For me, the sight of watching her grieving three children piling dirt onto the coffin made me think of the rumination “There But for the Grace of God Go I.”

I say that because I know exactly what impulses drove this woman down such a drastic path. Today I’m thankful that, even in my worst moments, I’m able to control similar feelings from bringing me past the point of no return.

All too typically, the reaction to the tragedy of suicide is “why” because he/she had everything going for them. The truth is that we never really know. Mental illness is insidious and over-whelming. At its worst, there is no way someone can look outside of the confines of their mind without help. Few want to be seen as vulnerable, not having it together, or needing the help of others. It’s especially hard if you’re the one who people typically turn to for help; admitting it’s your turn is like giving up control.

The best comparison I can make is that depression is like going miles down the wrong road, knowing it, yet being too stubborn and/or afraid to turn around and get the right directions. But to everyone who gets lost, it’s worth it to retrace your steps back. Every time. I’m sure that the hundreds of friends and family this young woman affected during her short life would agree. And yes, I’m talking from experience.

Links:

NAMI – National Association on Mental Illness: http://nami.org

Inspire.com’s Mental Health America Support Community: http://www.inspire.com/groups/mental-health-america/?ref=as

Mood Disorders Support Group: http://mdsg.org

No Kidding Me Too: http://nkm2.org

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