Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hurting Ourselves

This is a chapter in my book. This version hasn't been edited yet but I wanted to turn it into a blog entry because I think it's important and I haven't talked about it in awhile. I don't feel this way anymore, but I did a lot in that first year. 

Hurting Ourselves

Suicide is not a pleasant topic, but it’s one that comes up a lot. Right away, after Toby died, people seemed to watch me a little more closely than usual. I didn’t feel suicidal. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to live, but I didn’t want to die either.

But then, one day, I thought about killing myself.

My Experience

It was not a well thought out plan. It wasn't a plan at all. But I did think about it. I thought about it a lot. I had friends I could call but they were busy and working and I felt like a burden. And one friend that I did talk to on a regular basis generally made me feel worse because she would try to play therapist to me and then proceed to tell me about all of her experiences and everything that had happened to her and while she was rambling, I would be sitting there continuing with my thoughts.
The suicidal thoughts started the week I was accused of killing my baby. I was also accused of killing Pete's mom and causing the death of his father (who incidentally is still alive so apparently I'm not that good yet). In addition, I was called "disturbed" a "piece of work" and other things that I hate to think about now. This all came from my husband’s family and (now former) friends.  In addition, I was accused of running Pete's friends off, of keeping him from going to England for his mother’s funeral, of stifling his future, and we were sent a bill for thousands of dollars for the money that has been "invested" in Pete over the years by his family. One message I received said that I wasn't a "real mother" because a "real mother" would have let Pete leave.
I know all of this is hard to understand now, but the fact was that Pete’s mother died two weeks after Toby died. We made plans for the three of us to fly over for the funeral. I was getting a hotel room for us and had contacted some of our friends in England to come and visit so that Pete could spend time with his family. Drama ensued when his father informed us that he didn’t want Sam and I to come and that our presence was not welcomed. Since Pete had just lost his youngest son and was depressed, he couldn’t stand the thought of leaving us behind. We needed to be together. He chose not to leave us if he couldn’t bring us.
Pete received a range of messages from friends and family, telling him that he should have gone home. I booked the ticket for him. I booked the car rental for him. I even kissed him good bye. He was the one that ultimately made the decision not to get in the car. And he had his reasons. Whatever happened is between him and his mother and although I didn't know her well, I feel sure that as a mother (like I am) she would understand. Pete's friends and family members might not have agreed with his decision, but they sure as hell should have supported him. And they shouldn’t have added to our grief like they did. 
I was told that at least I had Pete, Mom, and Sam to return to at the end of the day but that all Pete's dad has to return to was an empty house.
I didn’t feel that way. I had a room full of baby clothes that will never be worn. I had bottles that would never be used again. I had a can of formula, half full, that would never be used up the rest of the way. I had an opened bag of diapers that rested on a changing table that wouldn’t see a baby. I had a nursery decorated in sailboats that would never hear laughter or the cries of a little one. I had a backpack, meant for our outings, that would never have little feet dangling from it. I had signs all over our house that a baby WAS there, but there was no baby. I had a son that saw me crying and hugged me and asked, "Do you miss your baby" and then asked my mother if Mommy was going away, too. That's what I had every day.
Somedays, it was too much to take a shower or a bath. Somedays, it was all I could do to get out of bed. I had panic attacks that resulted in Pete having to throw blankets and bathrobes over me because I couldn’t get enough weight on me. I hid in the closet and shut the door because the room was too bright. I couldn’t sleep at night because the last time I slept all the way through the night my son died while I slept.
Coupled with the anger and negativity from friends and family, I couldn’t take it anymore. I started believing the hype that was coming at me. I started believing that I was a bad person, that I DID somehow cause the death of my son, that I was disturbed, that I was a piece of work, and that I DID stop Pete from going to the funeral of his mother.
I never planned my death, but I sure thought about it a lot. I wished for it. And then I took to cutting myself. The cuts gave me something physical to do and look at. The worst I felt, the more I cut.
Finally, one day, it just stopped. There was no magic cure. (Well, there kind of was. We cut out almost everyone in our lives.) One day I just woke up and felt better. I don’t know how I survived. I think it was luck.

When You’re Feeling Like You Want to Die

  1. If you have anxiety medication or pain pills, give them to your partner and ask them to dispense them to you.
  2. Have a friend on alert. Make sure it’s someone you can call at all hours of the night.
  3. Don’t mix alcohol with medication as this might cause an adverse reaction.
  4. Bathe with the door open. Ask a friend or spouse to sit in the bathroom with you.
  5. Journal. Blog. Write in something.
  6. Get out of the house. Go for a walk, a movie, a drive…just remove yourself from the location you’re in.
  7. Talk to your doc. Sometimes the medication they prescribe for anxiety and depression can have the opposite effect on some people.
  8. If you have kids, ask someone you trust to take them for a few days.
  9. Pamper yourself. Watch an old movie, stay in bed, eat junk. Do nothing.
  10. Sleep. Sometimes things look better in the morning. Sometimes they don’t. But sleep often has a way of reprogramming us.

If these thoughts continue, please seek help. It doesn’t have to be scary, I swear. I also have fears of the psych ward and mental hospitals, thank you horror movies, but it’s really just about having someone to talk to you in your own doctor’s office.

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