Ah, the elephant in the room.
Let’s talk about Suicide.
It’s a personal and painful subject for me as it has affected every aspect of my life and those around me. I have a theory. It’s like the beached whale, or the beached dolphins… Lost souls following their instinct when their instinct is steering them in the wrong direction.
In the “D” series, I discussed how I have a terrible sense of direction. My soul can be screaming for me to turn left…and I know, that at that very moment, where I am at a fork on the road, I have to go in the opposite direction of my soul’s demands, as it has steered me wrong before (I’m not speaking metaphorically here, I am being literal…and in the prairies, it sucks to be lost with a 1/4 of a tank of gas).
Robin Williams talked about addiction “…there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump,'”.
I don’t think he was just talking about addiction.
Like the photo above, it’s a melting pot of multiple parts of an individual at different intervals in their life. The pendulum swinging between mania and catatonic desperation and sometimes it swings back again, not always to the same level, speed nor frequency, but it swings back and forth never-the-less.
And so we self medicate.
It’s never the person you think will do it. I have had friends and colleagues commit suicide and they were the last ones I thought would do such a thing. And in their painful hour, alone, unable to cope, I believe, they just wanted to end the pain the only way they knew how.
They misunderstood their soul’s message.
“I can’t live anymore” really meant, “I can’t live LIKE THIS anymore.”
Something’s got to change.
I’m losing the battle.
I need backup.
I think, the shame of that spiritual battle keeps many from reaching out for help. Because help would mean giving up the illusion of control and admitting that their soul is steering them in the wrong direction. They must steer themselves in the opposite direction while their soul is screaming for control.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling, trust me on this one.
Suffering from undiagnosed concussion due to head trauma from abuse and severe depression at 16, had I listened, I like to joke that I would have lost out on many, many amazing future orgasms. Luckily, I am rebellious, and with multiple death threats by the one who gave birth to me, living for the day when I could escape the abuse, was akin to winning over her.
Depression takes many forms, it’s a biochemical absence of endorphins (happy hormones). I can feel it as I can feel the drop in blood sugar (feeling faint and shaky) and increase in blood pressure (migraine with nausea), or when I should be parked near a bathroom and some air freshener (gurgling stomach aches and gas after a meal of questionable origin). For depression, the clouds start rolling in. I reach for comfort foods, I call friends and talk to them as if they were my therapist, I analyze my feelings, I cry, I write, I reach for my favorite shows, I watch comedy on YouTube, I look at Pintrest photos (crack for women)…I do whatever it takes to lift my spirits while I still can and ‘nip it in the bud’. I found getting angry is also a good way to express depression. I cuss like a sailor at anyone who tries to do me wrong, insult me or attempt to feed their ego at my expense.
Then, occasionally, divine intervention intercepts me at the crossroad of life. A few years ago, a friend died in a murder suicide after dealing with mental illness (he was the one holding the knife – he was at one time the client of the woman he killed and had been dating on and off again), the next month I lost my job, and went on a 3 month cry while knitting scarves, eating pizza and watching movies (I like to multitask) while on unemployment and trying to find a new job. It was 2008 and the financial meltdown was almost in full swing. I did eventually stop crying (I took Rolocore which has Willow’s Bark) and found a job. I leased a car, bought an iPhone and got on a phone plan, things were starting to look up. Then I was asked to do something unethical and I had to give up the job. I figured I could find another one. But that didn’t happen, and the depression came back in full and with it was the shame of failure. The money ran out and on Christmas day the eviction was due.
I sold and gave everything up. I borrowed money and decided to visit friends and family on a road trip as I gave them my collection of chandeliers.
I called it the “Good bye tour”.
Until I got to my dad’s place down in Florida.
Between my dad’s behavior towards me (my dad is a mixture of “Grumpy Old Men” meets “Mr. Magoo” and spending time with him can require therapy afterwards) , rescuing my aunt by taking her to the emergency room when none of the men around her would do it, and bartering web design for a sonogram only to find out I had a tumor the size of my open hand that had been sucking my energy for almost 10 years of misdiagnosis “Lose weight, you’ll feel better” by doctors… did I get angry. Anger is healthy.
Irony knows no bounds.
I named my return trip “The Healing Tour” being adventurous, finding new purpose, meaning and goals, driving down to the last island in Key West then hopping on a boat to Tortuga Island after having driven all night, stopping at hot springs throughout my trip back to Alberta, visiting friends again and hemorrhaging on my way back home. (I used to joke about having my own CSI episode when I was menstruating…it turns out I was hemorrhaging and becoming so anemic I was asphyxiating). Upon my return, I got a job managing a motel for the next year while I was paying off bills, taking iron pills, eating a lot of liver, and planning for my future medical sabbatical the following year (in Canada, it takes that long to get the right tests done, find the right doctors and be placed on a waiting list).
I love assholes. I do, really, because they piss me off. They make me angry, and anger is a great way to fight off depression. It makes your heart beat faster, it helps increase your blood pressure, it increases your metabolism and you know what? It’s really hard to be depressed when you feel like beating the shit out of some asshole who pissed you off.
Yeah, I said it, and you can quote me on that !
Good thing I’m not violent. : )
So I yell and I write.
Especially to that actor who blocked me and my car at that gas station in Nevada as he was trying to skip to the front of the line.
That was fun! Whooohooo!
All the while we were screaming insults at each other, that sane little voice in the back of my mind kept thinking “He looks familiar, where have I seen this guy before?”
So who won? Yours truly. He backed down and backed his car so I could get gas as it was my turn and then I drove away after paying for the gas. I have fantasies of meeting him someday and for a chance to apologize. It’s never going to happen. Instead, he may recognize me and yell “Security!!!!”
Back to the subject of suicide…
Alberta is very sunny, but cold in the winter. Spring brings rain. When it rains for several days in a row, people stay indoors. Many suffer from a vitamin D deficiency already and suicides increase suddenly. One year, a tenant, my teacher’s neighbor, and a man mentioned on the news all committed suicide within 24 hours and another tenant was stopped while he was waving a gun and threatening to end his own life. Too many if you ask me.
I remember going to a tanning salon and purchasing my membership the first winter with my new job as a motel manager. 30 minutes undressing, 20 minutes of putting on the lotions, 3 minutes in the tanning booth, and 30 minutes getting dressed again.
Then I would step outside.
What a difference! Even on a dreary day, it felt like the clouds had lifted. Gone was the grayness. I felt lighter.
Which explains the tanning addiction by some who look like a well roasted turkey.
Lucky for me, I make a lousy addict. I keep forgetting about my addiction and get distracted with other things.
So what is the solution?
Treating depression as one treats diabetes and hypertension. It can be measured. It can be tested. I know there is a biochemical change. I have felt it. But the brain also takes suggestions subconsciously and is can take positive reinforcement as well if given the opportunity. There is no need for lifelong pill intervention by “professionals” who guess the diagnosis like fortune tellers looking into their crystal balls and treat the symptoms. Some pills have dangerous side effects. It is suspected that Paxil has been a contributing factor in the murder suicides of several of it’s recipients. There have even been lawsuits about it’s side effects.
Which brings me to the ethical issue of control and enforcement.
“The Farmer” is now 86 years old. However, when he was about 83 years old, he had made up his mind that he wanted to climb a tall tree so he could cut one of it’s branches. He spent a lot of time planning this. I was a boarder in his home recovering from surgery. I had known him and his family for years. I was totally against this. What if he got hurt? I contacted his son to warn him about his father’s unsafe plans. The son’s response was interesting.
He pointed out that the only way to prevent his dad from climbing that tree would be to lock him up for his own good, where although it would extend his life, his quality of life would deteriorate into the abyss of depression to his dying days medicated and tied to his bed. Or let him climb the tree, happily, and if he falls and it kills him, at least he died being happy doing something he loved.
While I was away shopping, the farmer climbed the tree and cut the branch then climbed down safely.
This made him happy.
Use your powers for good, not evil.