Suicide: Selfish Action or Despairing Reaction?

a journal

a journal

Odd.  Just this past week I got out my Purpose Driven Life Devotional to use it again, needing to understand life better, trying to wrap my head around our purpose.

And now, ever since Sunday morning at church, when our associate pastor stood before us, the congregation, and told us about Rick Warren’s son committing suicide, I have been heart-sick.  My thoughts and emotions are with their grieving, their unanswered questions of “Could I have done more?”  I have reflected on the long journey they have been taking with their son and his mental illness, the toll it took on their son as well as them for that is what illness does in a family.  Those debilitating illnesses of any kind, those long-term illnesses with a need for long-term help not only affect the sick person but affect the caretakers as well.

The problem with mental illness, deep depression illness for today’s discussion, is the misunderstanding the majority of people have about it.  It’s not something an ill person wants to have.  Those with chronic depression do not want to be sad all the time; they do not want to have to fight every single day of their lives just to feel the slight presence of a “good day.”  They want, as badly as a child wants its Momma when it is scared or hurt, to be “normal,” to be happy, to be able to walk without a cloud of heavy darkness constantly hanging over them.  They would love to be able to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

But it’s just not possible sometimes.  Some days they lose the fight they fight every day to live life.  And sometimes when they lose… they commit suicide.  That happens in an instant; that decision.  The pain of sadness hurts, and sometimes it hurts so badly that all one wants to do is just leave.  It is not, as the leader of a visiting singing group at our church had the gall to get up and say before the entire group of people there to worship God, “an act of cowardice.”  No person who commits suicide is a coward.  My heart wants to cry out to God to let this particular man experience the despair of depression.  But the Christ who suffered for me and has sent a part of Himself to live within me fills me with compassion instead; something this man clearly does not have.  And the knowledge that Christ is with us does not keep us from the Dark Abyss; it does not keep us from feeling despair any more than it keeps one from feeling the pain of a broken bone.  But it does, as Rick Warren’s son knew, give us a hope.  And with that hope, those fighting this horrible illness grope along through the darkness of depression; some days victorious; some days just holding their own; some days losing.

It’s the losing days that we, as caretakers or friends or health workers, worry about.  Those are the days we check and double-check the one we love.  But what of the losing day we know nothing about?  That moment in time when the despair is overwhelming, the tiredness of the fight creating such a longing to leave that the sick one does just that:  leaves.  One way or another, but leaves.

It’s been 12 years now since I almost left.  But I remember the day as though it were yesterday.  My grief that evening had doubled: first I grieved the loss of my husband and now the grief over my son as well hit me.  And this particular evening it was just too much grief.  I had to leave; I couldn’t stay.  The thought that my family needed me never entered my mind.  There were no thoughts but one:  I had to leave; I couldn’t bear the pain anymore.   All I could feel was the horrible blackness of despair.  The leaving would not be a cowardly act but an act of one whose thought processes are skewed by the darkness of depression.

As was her nightly ritual at that point in time, my sister called me to check on me.  And as usual I was crying.  We would talk; she would say she was coming down, but I would assure her I would be fine.  And I would rise above the grief and be fine.  But this night was different.  Dar called; I was crying; we talked.  And when she said she was coming down, I continued crying and talking and telling her I would be fine… until I realized I was talking to no one.  I knew she had dropped the phone, got in her car, and was probably speeding way past the legal speed limit to get to me.

My plans to leave had been derailed and I cried that much harder.  I knew that whatever pills I had planned on taking would only be pumped out of my stomach at a hospital; whatever mode of transportation I could think of to leave this world had just been shut down by the fact that my sister was on her way to do whatever she had to do to save me.

And then she walked through the door…

The Great Abyss

And so dear readers; my good, good friends; my faithful few; my happenstance visitors, I shall say au revoir for just a bit.  It’s not adieu.

I am just too tired right now to carry on.  There is nothing fanciful, or funny, or fruitful that I can apply to your lives.  Perhaps later….

The Great Abyss

by Brenda Byassee

It has won this battle, this brawl:
Blinded, battered, bruised, and beaten.

The blackest night does e’re compare
to the mist of the great abyss.

The hole so mighty as to make
a soul so filled with dark and dank

From tears shed by the lowly one,
from tears shed by the lowly one.

Mixed and mingled with the mist,
the tears trickle, let unleashed.

All the while misty fingers pull
the lowly one into its pool

Of depth and dark and black decay
to lie and cry and feel the pain

Before arising to look up,
before arising to look up.

Begin the struggle once again,
to climb from out the putrid place.

A foot too heavy with the weight
to fall into a healthy pace;

A hand too weak with such sorrow
to grasp the hope of tomorrow.

The aching heart is so heavy;
The aching heart is so heavy.

Hope… A Powerful Word

One!

“What’s the use?  I can’t get a good job.”  “Yes, you can; you just need to stay clean and dependable.”

Two!

“I just want to die.”  “I’ve seen you happy before, and you can be happy again.”

Three!

“I don’t remember what it feels like.” 

Four!

“You’re just down for the count right now.  Things will get better.”

Five!

“No.  I can hear the final count. “

Six!

Seven!

“Never give up.”

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

The count can stop.  There is hope.



The Agony of Defeat

Today… I admit defeat.  It’s painful.  I can’t get out of bed nor can I get awake.  The monster has kicked my a-double.  Saturday I could feel myself lose my footing, stumbled, took some major punches to the gut.  Sunday, the pummeling continued to the point I was numb, could only sit and stare.

Today… I admit defeat.  I am just too tired to go on, so went to bed and went to sleep as though drugged.  Which reminds me… I need to get my prescription filled again.  Sometimes, a therapist once told me, a person just needs a little help getting over the hump.  My hump is here right smack dab in the middle of my pathway.  There is no getting around it, and I sure can’t get over it.  I need just a little help.

Today… I admit defeat.  Every day I get up, look the monster in the face, and proclaim victory.  I may be bloodied and bruised by the end of the day, but I stand victorious, the winner.

Today…  I admit defeat.  The fight was too hard, or maybe I took the hit too intensely.  The life in me is barely there; the nothingness wanting to take over; the black hole pulling like gravity.

Tomorrow… I proclaim victory.  I know it will be tough.  I know the monster will be strong.  I also know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  Phillipians 4:13

♪♪♪ Movin’ On Up… To The Bright Side ♪♪♪

There used to be a sitcom on television called The Jeffersons. 

The Jeffersons

 Their theme song went “movin’ on up, to the East side” because they were coming up in the world to a better financial position.  I love to take little diddies and put a word or two of my own in there to make it mine.  This is one of them.

My movin’ up has nothing to do with being well off monetarily and everything to do with being well off mentally.  It’s been a struggle to move up now for about half my life:  a long, long time.  First was a bad marriage and divorce to overcome while coping with a child not yet diagnosed with schizophrenia, being bewildered at every turn with every psychiatrist from the one who specialized in children to the one that worked for the local health department, and all the others in between; the death of another child’s best friend and the subsequent battle with drug addiction; depression and anxiety problems; the death of my second husband and years of mourning what could have been, what could have been done differently.  Pain… and more pain. 

The only reason I mention those things at all is to tell you about my good, dear friends without whom I could not and cannot live.  They are the reason I am movin’ on up.  They are the rocks that anchor my distraught psyche, the rocks upon which God has set me, the pavilion wherein He has hidden me.  I so totally love them all. 

praying friend

They have prayed my son alive because I am as certain as I sit here that he would have died without their shawl of prayer wrapped around him. 

hugging

 They have wrapped us in their arms as well with hugs that left us giddy with delight and comfort. (You  know who you are, Howard.)  They have come to me in the night, flashlight in hand, when I feared I had run over my little cat, Bo, to look for him, all three kids:  Joseph, Tyler, Emily, and Mom Cheryl.

Dolores (a/k/a Grandma to Kate) gets out in the cold to fetch me a gallon of milk so I don’t have to get the grandgirls out; brings me blog-warming gifts (picture coming soon); and teaches me to be kind and loving and accepting of all people.  Terah, who loves me with agape love that fills my soul with lightness, who makes a way to bring me back from the precipice of darkness, who finds my Eagle’s Nest that I might hide under the shadow of His wing (Psalm 17:8).  Jeri Lyn, who takes my burdens into herself to ease my morbid obsessions, that I might not worry about the evil that could befall my little ones.  Joy, who stood vigil at my husband’s side as he lay dying.  Alberta, who always has my back, always worries about me, always seeing about me.  These are only a few; God gave me many.

The study group who saw me through that first year of extreme sadness; the group God brought together just for me.  Ah, how He loves me.  This group who are now my sisters, these women whom I will forever have a bond.  How I love them. 

my sisters

Yes, I am movin’ on up, to the bright side.  And I say Thank You, Lord.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.  For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.  And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord …  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”  Psalm 27