Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to share my experiences with this topic. I have been sitting here for 2 hours trying to type this up. Trying to outline it like a formal paper. Trying to figure out how to be elegant. Trying to give this the “respect” I think it deserves. It’s not happening. So, I’m just going to start typing and try to regurgitate my memories of dealing with this monster as best I can.
|Uncle Clyde and me. June 1989|
I have dealt with depression and anxiety for a very long time. The first time I vividly remember being depressed was when I was 12. I don’t think I realized there was a term for it, but I knew it was something far more than just “sad.” It was also the first time I thought that maybe the idea of death wasn’t so bad. Whether the pre-pubescent angst of “I wish I were dead!” or the start of teen depression, it was a very real thought and it was scary.
I continued to have thoughts of suicide over the next few years. Then in April of 1987, due to family and school drama, I decided that dying was far more appealing than living. I took a handful of prescription pills that belonged to my grandma and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night dizzy and sick to my stomach. I did not tell my parents about it because I knew that would lead to even more drama. Weeks later, when my mom DID find out, she did not know how to handle it. Instead of seeking help for me, she said “Great. I have a nutcase for a daughter.” The topic was never brought up again. I’ve long since forgiven her. She was dealing with her own issues and needed help every bit as much as I did.
I used to believe that I was depressed solely due to my environment and circumstances. But after leaving home when I turned 18, the depression did not go away. And as I grew older, I learned that it had as much, if not more, to do with genetics as it did with my environment. Depression runs in my family. On my mom’s side and on my dad’s. It’s why my mom was not able to deal with my depression. She hadn’t yet dealt with her own. It’s why we suffer from addictions. It’s why my dad was not able to be part of my life for so long. It’s why on September 3, 1992, one of the greatest men I knew, walked out on a beach in Provincetown Massachusetts, held a gun to his head and took his own life. I will never know all the reasons my Uncle Clyde felt death was his only option, but I do know depression and addiction were the real killers.
|The path leading down to the beach where my uncle spent his last moments. A beautiful place. As morbid as it sounds, I understand why he wanted to be there.|