So I've had suicide on the brain lately. Not because I want to kill myself--if I did I wouldn't post it on my blog--but because, well, suicide is sort of always around.
See, when I was really little my grandmother tried to kill herself. She was depressed after the death of my grandfather and she decided a big ol' bottle of pills was the best course of action to take. One of her sons had a premonition to check up on her. He called her house and she didn't answer so he went over. He found her passed out on the floor. He took her to the hospital and had her stomach pumped. After that she spent some time in a sanitarium and it came out that she had struggled with depression and bulimia/anorexia for most of her life. It was sad and she was sad. At the end of her life (she was killed a few years later in a car accident) she was almost always sad. Her suicide attempt left a strange legacy in my young mind. Like maybe suicide was an option.
Then when I was thirteen my best friend tried to kill herself. She too took a bottle of pills--but this time I was the one on the phone. I listened as she told me all about how her parents hated her, about how she had been sexually assaulted at a party, about how she couldn't deal with anything anymore--the pills rattling in the background as she dumped them out of the bottle and then put them back in, not sure how many to take. I listened as she cried and swallowed the pills. It never occurred to me to tell my parents. I just prayed over and over, "Please, God, don't let her die. Please God, don't let her die. God, don't let her die!" I started to cry and made her promise that she'd show up for school the next day. She didn't make it to school and I started freaking out. That evening I got a phone call. Her parents had found her in the bathroom piles of pills still clutched in her fists. She was calling me from the psychiatric unit of the hospital. She kept saying, "I just want you to know it's your fault I'm alive. You made me promise I'd come to school and I couldn't break a promise to you. This is the most horrible place. I just want to get out. But it's your fault I'm alive. It was your promise." I mourned her life and I mourned my promise.
In high school seven of my friends tried to kill themselves--none of them were successful, thank heavens, although my ex boyfriend did come close when he threw himself off a (small) cliff and took up driving with his eyes closed. It was strange, listening to all my friends' goodbyes and hearing their tales after the attempts. Sometimes I was sad. A lot of the time I was scared. Eventually, I got angry.
After awhile I began to draw cut marks on my wrists and have dreams about watching myself bleed out. It made me anxious because I didn't really want to die but, maybe, I did. Things were so overwhelming--AP classes, theater rehearsals, Young Women's responsibilities, I was Seminary class president--sometimes I just couldn't figure out any way to make it all slow down. Death seemed so still and quiet and sounded so peaceful. However, because I knew the plan of salvation, I knew that there would just be more questions to answer and more work to do on the other side. When I got my patriarchal blessing it said I had a long life to live and I took it as a sign. The suicidal thoughts were pretty much gone then.
Things were good for a number of years, but then I got hit with postpartum depression and felt crazier than I ever knew I could. I really wanted to kill myself because I deserved it. I was such a horrible mother and such a failure and a latter-day saint it just wasn't worth it. I figured I could pay the hell on the other side. The suicidal visions returned but with much more detail and color. They were scary. Anger seemed the best way to fight off the fright--until I started therapy and antidepressants.
These days the images come and go but I mostly ignore them. The medicine helps them disappear.
I guess the reason I've been thinking about this lately was the legacy all those attempts left me. I was sad and scared and angry for a long time--especially at my grandma and my best friend. They had introduced so much anguish into my life and for what? Even though I imagined I knew how they had felt I still didn't understand it. And I really didn't understand what part I had to play in all of it. I prayed a lot (and wrote a lot of bad poetry) about it. But, still, my feelings roiled around inside me.
Given some time, though, the sting lost its venom. The ache began to heal. I still don't understand all of it. I still have a lot of questions, but the anger is gone. I think what I struggled with was my own responsibility in relation to all of it. I began approaching peace came when I began trying to give it up to God. He was the one who was responsible for it. This life, is after all, a part of His plan. And, I came to understand, He was planning on being responsible for it. He planned for His son to come to earth and suffer, bleed, and die. God was in control.
I also began to feel better when I realized that my grandma, my friend, and I might all have had the suicidal thoughts simply because it is part of an illness--not because of what my grandma did or because I hung out with the wrong crowd or some other nebulous sin. It was an illness and illnesses are covered by the grace of Christ through His atonement and resurrection.
I still need the therapy and the drugs, but my testimony helps with the healing too. These days I admire my grandma. Her struggle and her faith are inspirational to me. She survived and I can too. I pray for my long-ago best friend. I don't have contact with her any more, but I know she is in God's hands. I pray for me, too. And I'm working on forgiving myself for my own weaknesses and self hate. And I'm working on accepting myself--craziness and all--for what I am now and for what God can help me learn to be.