Suicide, Six Months Later

Note: Six months ago my brother-in-law ended his life. This is a follow up to my previous post on the topic. I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has been supportive of my family throughout this difficult time. Thank you.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available to take your call 24/7. International readers should visit the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to find local resources. We care about you, friends.

***

I like Robin Williams in everything. I was raised on Mork & Mindy. I’ve never seen the man suffer a bad or boring interview. The most recent thing I saw him in was an episode of Louie where a guy they knew died and they went to his funeral, and then to his favorite strip club. The scene ends with Louie and Robin promising to attend each other’s funerals, “whoever dies first”. He had an imaginative, brilliant mind and was important to a lot of people in a lot of ways.

But I’m numb to the news of his suicide.

I’ve been having a very hard couple of weeks. Anxiety. Depression. Mood swings. The works.

Yesterday some careless asshat hit my lit sign outside of my office, hurling it to the ground, sending shattered glass everywhere. I wasn’t there at the time, but when I returned from lunch my super sweet office neighbor relayed the afternoon’s events — at which point I flew into a swear-fueled rage that quickly morphed into a public sobbing fit, my head on her shoulder, tears soaking her t-shirt.

“What can I do to help?” she asked, her arms engulfing me in a much-needed hug.

“Just be my friend.” I sniffled.

Because that’s all anyone can do.

 

Thank goodness for office neighbors like Jamie and Patty. They can fix anything.

Fixing what’s broken with a little help from my friends.

 

I’m not posting this for sympathy or responses. I just need to get it out, as our feeds blow up with RIPs and the tragic nature of it all:

People of the civilized world, take the grief you’re feeling at this moment and multiply it by a million. This is how it feels to lose a loved one (not a celebrity, not a movie star) unexpectedly and by their own hand. You probably can’t even fathom the idea right now, but it could happen in your own family tomorrow. Would you see the clues? Or keep yourself at a mental distance, locked in the safe room known as denial?

The shock of “losing” Cobain in the ’90s didn’t prep me for shit. The shock of a close friend losing his partner three years ago didn’t prep me for shit. I held my friend’s hand and cried by his side for months — years — as he attempted to pick up the pieces and get on with life…yet I didn’t learn a damn thing.

Last week I finally got up the courage to watch The Bridge, a documentary about suicidal folks who jump from the Golden Gate. It was intense, and I agreed with and could relate to a solid 85% of the friends and family members interviewed in that movie. This documentary is depressing as hell, but real and fascinating at the same time. The regrets, vulnerability, ignored signs – everyone’s story is different, yet eerily similar. Watch it and you’ll understand why I walk through my days with a renewed sense of hypervigilance: if you’re a member of my tribe and something sticks out as an odd behavioral change, I’m going to question it. I may come across as crazy, obnoxious, and possibly affected by PTSD, but that’s my new normal and I’m not sorry.

Robin, you were a bright star in a dark world, and I thank you for going there — you just weren’t an integral part of my life. My numbness isn’t intended as disrespect, but as my husband so perfectly explained as I struggled to put thought into words, “Petey meant more to me.”

And he was funny, too.

14 thoughts on “Suicide, Six Months Later

  1. Andrea, thank you for your post. It was authentic and touching. We need to hear, or I am relieved to hear, that other people have similar experiences. It helps us see more clearly what may be going on around us with others. Great blog post!

  2. I have one word for what you are going through, and what you are actively doing. “Healing” Thank you brave friend for being who you are. You are a woman who expresses your deepest feelings, and you don’t allow shame or fear to guide your way. Loss is an enormous catalyst for changing the biological workings of our hearts. I too have experienced dark spaces….as you know, and I too have seen suicide shatter people in my own family. Loss has been part of my life too, and you are over the mountains, and through the woods right about nothing preparing you for IT. I didn’t know the news about Robin Williams death would have brought me to tears, but it did. He was a big part of my love for film, and comedy, but what I realized was that loss has become part of me as well. You never get over losing some one you love, and there is always going to be that part of you changed. There are times that I find the positive in the change, but there’s always going to be that part that hurts. Depression is heavy, but I’m tired of it having so much control by hiding under the cloak of shame. You are part of the change that needs to happen. Never stop expressing yourself, and you will always be the light in the darkness.

  3. I can relate because I, myself, have “met” depression head-on two different times in my life… These were all due to external situations that affected my mind. So I thought the first time I could do it all by myself, which became impossible. I told my daughter after 3 weeks of suffering, and she told me “Mom, go see a doctor”…out of the mouth of babes!! :-) I did, received counseling and antidepressant medication.

    Through medication, time and support from family and friends, I finally reached a state of peace of mind and gradually weaned myself off the medication. The second time, a few years later, I “met” it again, again due to external conditions. But this time, I knew what to do, outlined above. I then conquered it yet again.

    I am just sharing what happened to me and how I handled it because I care about people. My favorite song is “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” Whenever I hear of any other person who is suffering from depression, I feel great empathy for that person, having been in their shoes!!! It is a dark place someone would not wish their worst enemy to visit !

    I am saying all this to let anyone depressed now to GET HELP from a doctor, counseling, if necessary, and let your family and/or friends know how you feel! My family’s support and encouragement greatly helped me to overcome it! You CAN conquer it and achieve peace of mind and happiness just as I did twice in my life!! 😀 😀

  4. I missed this when you posted it! Of all the suicides I’ve heard about — mostly celebrities, or someone’s parent, or mom’s coworker’s hub, or former classmates — the only one I’ve cried over is Peter’s. Because I knew him. Not well, but I miss him, too, and am so sad that I won’t see him next month. :-(

    • Deena, thanks so very much for your comment. He’ll be missed for such a long time to come…I doubt I’ll ever stop missing him. Sometimes I have moments where I still can’t believe he’s gone.

      Again, thanks for everything. I love you and I can’t wait to see you in a few days!

  5. I cannot relate to what you’ve experienced, but I’m understanding what you’re saying in that we’re grieving the loss of someone we don’t personally know. You are grieving the loss of someone so dear to you. I’m picturing that you have good days and some really awful days. I can only wish for you that the really awful days will eventually minimize to a bearable level. You are on my mind, little lady. :)

  6. Pingback: On Bullies, Adulthood, and Knowing Better

  7. Pingback: Vigil in Moab | hObsessions

Leave a Reply