Why Suicide Could be Seen as the Ultimate Self Sacrifice
A piece for those who knew, there was no winning...
This is me and my mom. In this photo she is very sick. But she doesn't look it right? That's the beauty of photos, they're a nano second of a moment in time. And that's also the bitch about mental health...you can't see it. I don't think even I wanted to know, or realize, just HOW sick she was here. She hid it well. Especially at this stage. Because this was after about ten years of sheer horror. She was so ashamed and guilty to show the true depths of the pain of she was dealing with.
Now. Before I go any further. I need the world to know, and you reading this, just how much my sister and I were truly loved by this woman. It was fierce, and the biggest love in the world. I am still trying to fill the void her lost love has left. I had a therapist for a very long time. Who knew me when I was dealing with her depression, when I lost her, and me after the loss. And she told me one day, through tears, that most of the people that sat where I did, were there because they didn't know if their parents loved them. And not once, did her love for my sister or I, EVER come into question. I also need you to know, that if this disease could take THIS soul, the STRONGEST, and HAPPIEST soul I have ever known, it could take ANYONE.
I also want you to know, that loving someone with depression and anxiety, is not enough. Because if love was enough, Tamara would still be here. She would tell me, "If there was ever a love that could save anyone's life in this world, it is your love Ashley. So whatever I do, is not a reflection of you or your efforts. This is my path." I always hold this quote dear to the innermost of my heart, because I naturally have moments where I say to myself, "...if I brought her one more book, to one more doctor, listened in on one more phone call, answered one more of her text messages, encouraged her one more time...". And then I stop and I remember these beautiful words from my mom.
During the biggest collapse of her life, my mom fought VALIANTLY to keep my sister and I close to her. To keep our little family from truly crumbling. She'd still try to keep Christmas cheer and spirit wherever she was living. Still celebrate holidays and birthdays. Getting together for a coffee or a dinner. I knew it was near the end, when she didn't want to celebrate her birthday. I never did get to celebrate her last birthday with her. So at her celebration of life, I bought a cake, and we sang her happy birthday. She died only a month after turning 58.
She was tired and ashamed for what she had done to my sister and I. The outbursts. The screaming. The breakdowns. The suicide attempts. The bizarre behaviour. She was unrecognizable from the woman we grew up with. She would sob to me, sitting on the floor, saying, "I hurt my girls...I can't live with myself. Consistency is what children need, even if you are young adults."
She didn't want us to worry anymore. Putting on a brave face took all of her energy whenever my sister or I would visit. Then when we left, my stepdad told me later, she'd go out, just like a light, retreat back to her room...and stay there.
Now...what I want to say is not popular opinion. And it maybe isn't even right. But I knew my mom VERY WELL. We were the absolute best of friends, so I knew all of her ins n outs, and we spoke openly about her battles. But, we do not acknowledge enough, the lives of the people who battle mental heatlh - TAKES. It claims more lives than we like to admit.
Yes, it can be managed; by diet, gratitude journals, exercise, talk therapy, group therapy, sunlight, cutting toxic people, sleeping well, laugh therapy, gut health, medication, crisis lines, family support, friend support, financial aid - this list can go on. And I am sure I'll have some readers point out ones I've missed. And that's the thing - I do not care HOW you feel better. I just care that you DO. If praying to Balloonia gets you through the day, as long as you're not hurting anyone, I'm cool. But. This isn't a movie. This is real life (Duh Ashley, but this has taken me a long time to really truly realize), and for a LOT of people, battling for your life and your health are THE hardest and realest battles you're ever gona fight.
So.. I want to take a minute here...to salute all the soldiers who DID fight bravely, who did all the things they were supposed to do, and still lost. One of my mom's very last phone calls she ever made (right before she last called my stepdad) was to an experimental ketamine treatment therapy in the United States. She fought to the very end. Bravely, courageously, violently, and with every last ounce of strength she had left.
Some people get tired. She was tired. She knew she wasn't getting better. She was on "medications" she couldn't get off of. She had no more money. No memory (this embarrassed her greatly as she was always an amazing conversationalist with others, never forgetting personal details). No confidence or energy to go back to work. We lost our house. She had fibromyalgia (triggered by extreme stress) all over her body and needed percocets to get through the day. She needed clonazepam to manage her anxiety 4 times day. As well as Effexor (which is no longer even prescribed anymore, THAT'S how hard it is to come off it). All of these created a vicious cycle of side effects, which left her with insomnia, numbness in her hands and arms, her teeth and gums hurt, she couldn't go to the bathroom anymore. The illness was out of control. It had won.
So... my mom knew. She knew this was going to get uglier. More scarring for her family to watch. She had no friends anymore. The illness made sure of that. No one wanted to be around her. And she knew it. No matter how many times I told her I didn't care and I'd forgive her a thousand times, she was a mother who had hurt her children; and she couldn't forgive herself.
I want to say that, for some people, in some situations, that for a person to take their life, to free their family - is the ultimate act of selfless love. For everyone. They say a mother will risk her life to save her children. And that was what my mom did. She saved us from worrying, from morning to night, from staying close and not leaving to pursue dreams or careers...
Maybe instead of saying people who take their lives are selfish, we could say thank you to them instead. For being brave enough to end the suffering of watching someone fight for their life.
Rest in Peace to ALL those who did their damn best. You have no idea what this disease will do to you, until you fight it yourself. So have some grace. Some compassion. And humility for those that do.
So... Mom, my beautiful Tamara... Thank you for saving us all. You were too good for here anyways.