Over the rest of the week, I’m going to talk about both my own state and the fallout of me talking candidly about my suicidal feelings.
The explicit reason I wrote the original essay was because it was hard for me to reach out for help at all. (I actually didn’t originally; a friend caught me giving away stuff and talked me down.)1 And I’ve been through enough stuff and have had to develop enough skills that I suspect I might have a bit of a bonus to my save versus despair.
And with all those advantages I almost couldn’t ask for help. I didn’t want to bother people, or I was afraid that they’d think I was trying to guilt them, or worse.
I recap all that because my feared response wasn’t the reality. In reality, my friends, acquaintances, co-workers – even people I don’t normally get along with – reached out in some way. Perhaps it was just typing ::hug:: in a Facebook comment, or texting me, or checking up on me weeks later, or more. But for the most part, people were nothing like I feared they would be.
And that was – and continues to be – a great help to me.
There were three exceptions.
One was my ex who thought I was threatening them. They were wrong, but I understand why they thought that.
One was the poet, whom I talked about in a prior post.
And the third problem was my son’s reaction to what my ex-wife said after he got home from his visit with me.
I just got off the phone with my ex-wife, and I think that things are straightened out now. Now clarified, my ex-wife (and rightly so) thought that if I was feeling unstable that he shouldn’t stay the night at my house. And I agree completely with that.2
And worse, my son felt like it was his responsibility to make sure I wasn’t suicidal, and is carrying some guilt from that. Which sucks – I didn’t figure he’d see the original post at all, and if therapy helps him realize that other people’s feelings aren’t his responsibility, then all the better.
But my son’s other takeaway seemed to be that if he ever felt suicidal, that he would be treated as an outcast as well.
As I told my son via text, that he shouldn’t think that admitting suicidal or depressive thoughts is something BAD, rather than something that people should share.
The only way you can get the emotional support you need is to be able to be honest about your feelings. And her reaction is exactly the sort of thing that people who are depressed and suicidal fear, and why they don’t seek help.
Which, if you’ve stood on the edge of that pit as well (and statistically, you probably have), you know that’s already how you feel.
Hopefully I was able to convince him that his interpretation of my ex-wife’s reaction was the exception. Hopefully, my example of talking about how I was feeling – no matter how difficult it was – will serve as a good example for him when he faces the times in his life when he feels alone.
Thankfully, after talking to my ex-wife on the phone this afternoon, it seems like we’re on the same page about that. She’s going to make sure he understands that from her as well.
Statistically, most people will experience suicidal thoughts at least once in their life, and it’s vitally important that our kids (one of the most at-risk groups) know that it’s okay to reach out for help when they feel depressed and suicidal.
Which kind of highlights the problem in my original post. It’s hard to talk about feeling suicidal. Not only do you face the possibility of being judged, but when you’re feeling worthless, you don’t want other people feeling like they’re responsible for your mental well-being.
I’m really glad that my ex-wife called me back this afternoon and we got that straightened out. I know we’ve had our differences, but I am glad that we both want our son to be able to reach out to either of us if he finds himself standing at the edge of that emotional pit.
But it’s still hard to talk about these kinds of extreme feelings – and I’ll touch on that again soon.
And if you haven’t already, see if you can contribute anything to help a Navy Vet and his family who recently lost everything in a fire:
1 This is something that’s been overlooked; I didn’t start writing publicly about this until the absolute worst had passed. And while I admitted to suicidal thoughts when pressed, I didn’t tell anyone at the time.
2 As I will point out in a later post, my suicidal depression was based on an event, rather than ongoing major depression or anything like that.