Today it has been 8 months since my husband passed away. It feels like he has been gone even longer somehow. I forget so many of our good times and things about him already. The trauma has made it nearly impossible to remember. I was looking at photos and some video too. Hearing his voice and seeing him very happy is so jolting for me compared to the image of finding him. It is almost too painful to bare and I close the album for another day. I am home at my parents this week. I took several much-needed days off to try to relax and refuel. My happiness is seeing my family and old friends. I am quieter, more reserved, more reflective. I am probably not as much fun as I was but this is me at 8 months.
I feel like I have not been blogging about the suicide aspect as much as I should be. Suicide is getting a lot of attention these days in light of the show 13 Reasons Why. I am not one to watch the show. It is too much for me. However, I see both sides of the argument here. Some feel it glorifies suicide. Some feel it brings the issue of mental health, depression, and suicide out from behind the dark curtains of stigma and shame. I do think however it has brought the topic into many more people’s homes regardless of the show.
I see more people getting semi colon tattoos. Sharing their pain, stories, feelings about mental health. Maybe I see more because I have been through the tragedy of losing my husband this way. Maybe it is the positive side of social media, the connection we feel to our friends when we post our every thought and feeling. I think it is amazingly strong that people talk about their lives with honesty, share their good and bad moments, and provide us a window into their lives. Especially when the topic is depression, anxiety, mental health, medicine they take, suicidal thoughts, etc. For every person who opens up I believe we erase stigma more and more. I believe we have a chance at helping someone else who needs to be heard.
This is a great article and story about Oxford High Students and their approach to showing 13 Reasons Why NOT. Very impressive. I hope more schools will do this.
As I sit here at the 8 month mark I still have not decided what my role could or would be in terms of suicide prevention. I want to help people by sharing his story. When I look backwards with the knowledge of his death by suicide I can now see things that went on for years and some things that went on the days or weeks before. Maybe this can be my contribution. Maybe something I put here will make you consider if your family member is suffering from depression, suicidal or dark thoughts. Maybe they will get the help they need. It is very hard to write them down but I hope they will help someone. I am sure I will continue to edit and add to this list.
- nap taker which could last hours
- often complained of headaches
- insomnia and sleep issues
- a general look of not listening/disinterest
- gave away something to a stranger I thought was odd
- found out after he passed that he bought a large gift for a family member and did not tell me about it
- pulled away from me and often did not get the phone
- stopped joining me for activities
- carried his gun around more than ever
- seemed to be nervous about things in the world, paranoia?
- strange statements out of the blue
- watching dark movies that upset me and would not change them
- not affectionate or loving toward me
- out of the blue planned a party of friends to come over the night before I had a huge business trip
- clutter and stuff started to bother him
- never made decisions or stated his opinions (learned behavior to survive his childhood he said)
- anxiety for things like finding new job, interviewing, change
- took many things personally that others would brush off
- never able to forget a perceived slight or actual slight
- a feeling he was not good enough (“you need a husband who goes out more”, “all I am good for and do is get you food”
- he never let me in fully, he did not tell me things or open up
- he saw I shared my heart, thoughts, and feelings with him and sometimes he seemed angry at me for being able to
- an overall dark cloud that turned into a huge impenetrable boulder that slept between us and followed us around
- finding pills after he passed that I believe was Trazadone (not prescribed to him and not used correctly is my guess) **** See withdrawal symptoms of Trazadone (dark thoughts and suicide)!
- quick to anger, quick to upset
- a feeling of walking on egg shells with him constantly
- often took everything I said wrong and got angry or upset
With help suicide is preventable. But like with anything (addiction, mental illness, life) the person needs to want help and be honest about their feelings and suffering. When we are not aware we cannot be supportive. I hope that suicide continues to be talked about. Because as we remove stigma people will fee safer to discuss the topic and feel less shame in communicating their feelings.
A good description of Suicide from the website Project Semicolon
- People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.
- Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end his/her life. Factors such as loss, addictions, childhood trauma or other forms of trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.
- Suicide is the result of actions taken to deal with intolerable mental anguish and pain, fear or despair that overwhelms an individual’s value for living and hope in life.
- While there is a well-established link between suicide and depression, each suicide occurs in a unique mix of complex interconnected factors, individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational).