How To Cope With A Suicide
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
We were together nearly three years.
I loved him.
A few days after we got together, our sophomore year in high school, he professed his love. I told him I didn't feel the same. A couple of weeks later, he convinced me that I did. I still wasn't sure.
After we'd been together a month and a half, he pressured me into sex with him even though I wasn't ready. Somehow, he'd convinced me that I wanted sex as badly as he did.
Later my sophomore year, he convinced me that I might be pregnant - he thought the condom broke. I was terrified.
Finally, I told my mom, who went out to buy me a pregnancy test.
I wasn't pregnant.
He'd created this pregnancy scare so I'd feel I needed him. That's who he was: he'd do anything to make me feel like needed him to survive.
On my sixteenth birthday, he raped me for the first time; no, that's not true, he'd raped me well before that. See, shortly after we began having sex, I realized that I hated sex and I didn't want to do it. He'd managed to con me into it by making me feel guilty.
He'd even cry.
Not because I wouldn't give in, but because he felt bad for wanting sex when I didn't. Or, at least, that's what he told me. Now I can see he was manipulating me.
Eventually when he wanted to have sex, I'd say "I don't know" or nothing. He'd end up having sex with me no matter what my response was.
Four times (including my sixteenth birthday) he forced me to have sex after I'd clearly said no. Other times, I told him I didn't want to have sex, and he'd reply that he wasn't going to make me but he wanted to "lay" with me. "Laying with me" meant he wanted to lay naked together. He'd say "trust me," but eventually, he'd "lose control" and force me to have sex. I still can't hear someone say "trust me" without crying.
He isolated me from my friends; manipulating me into ditching them because he didn't "trust them." If I wanted to hang with them, he'd make me feel guilty
That's how I lost my best friend. Twice.
I didn't realize he was emotionally controlling; abusing me.
On the other hand, he was always saying things to make me feel special, "I will always love you and only you," and "If you ever break up with me, I'll be dead mentally and emotionally, but not physically because you asked me not to kill myself."
He claimed he'd been suicidal when we started dating; that I'd saved his life - he planned to kill himself the night he asked me to homecoming. When I said yes, and agreed to date him, he decided he wasn't suicidal. I still don't know if that was a lie.
After I broke up with him in June - I told him I didn't want to be in a long-term relationship for awhile - my mother informed me that he'd been abusive and controlling me. Looking back, she's right.
He'd "buy" my love after he'd abuse me so I'd stay. I'm ashamed that it worked. I dated him longer than I should've.
After our break-up, he stalked me.
He'd show up at my house at all hours. He'd visit my campground. He'd even show up at work. Eventually, I had to hide from him.
I thought I was over him.
I'd had a fling with a guy who broke my heart. Another guy used me. Stupidly, I made out with another guy.
I'm now a freshman in college, finally in a healthy romantic relationship. I still don't enjoy sex; I'm petrified of having another abusive relationship. But I know my new boyfriend would never abuse me.
Lately I've been thinking about the good parts of that relationship; I find myself missing him. I think about the good times; how he'd been practically family.
I learned he'd been planning to propose before we broke up. He'd been looked at engagement rings and was planning to ask my dad for his blessing.
I feel like I'm betraying my new boyfriend, even though I've already told him this - I don't want to keep secrets. He told me not to worry about it; he wasn't upset, he was glad I'd told him.
I want to get over that relationship - to stop missing it. That relationship damaged me. I know I did the right thing by ending it. When I'm home, I miss him.
He's in a new relationship with a friend of mine. He loves her, but I'm afraid he's abusing her. I'd love to warn her, but I know she won't believe me, and I don't want to ruin their relationship if it's healthy.
I feel stuck. I desperately want our relationship in the past, but I don't know how to get over it.
The Band, do you have any advice for this young woman? Getting over a relationship - any relationship - is tough. She could use your love and wisdom.
This letter was written by the mother of one of our amazing volunteers.
Please, show her some love for her amazing letter.
December 19, 2012
President Barack Obama The White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. Obama;
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I am writing to BEG you, to IMPLORE you, to do something to help the least among us: the mentally ill. Get them medical care. In some cases it may have to be forced upon them. Please find an acceptable way to do that. Right now our laws don’t allow that unless the individual is deemed “a danger to himself or others.” That doesn’t work. That isn’t good enough. That has to change. It’s a national disgrace.
It is the nature of mental illness for patients to refuse medical care and to refuse to take prescribed medications when they are under a doctor’s care. And it’s the nature of family members to turn a blind eye to the problem they have in their own homes. Our society places an everlasting stigma upon anyone remotely suspected of mental illness. But patients need help and families need help and society needs help and our country needs help in dealing with this very serious and growing problem in our world. The Nancy Lanzas in this country, and there are many of them, as much as they try, can’t do it alone. I’m all for gun control, but guns aren’t the problem, people are the problem.
I am 71 years old and I have NEVER written a letter or communicated in any way with a president or any other government official. It’s time. I have shed a lot of tears in the last few days. I have turned off my TV because I couldn’t bear to hear any more about the horrific suffering of those families in Newtown, and I couldn’t bear to try to imagine what those classrooms must have been like for those 20 children and the staff.
I have lived a long time and had a lot of struggles in my life, not the least of which meant coping with mental illness in my family. Two of my grandparents, both in their 90s, died in the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Hospital in Wingdale, NY, after commitment for dementia. My husband’s uncle, a very successful attorney in New York and Washington, DC, became depressed and committed suicide – he jumped off a Maryland bridge one morning.
I lived with my bipolar husband for the 15 years in which he refused treatment or medication of any kind. Although I never felt physically threatened and never thought my life was in danger, my life and the lives of my four children were a living hell during that period, but few outside our family knew it and nothing could be done to compel him to get medical help because he wasn’t “a danger to himself or others.” The mental and emotional stress on all of us at times was unbearable. I’m sure that, if my husband had been treated, he would be alive today to see his nine grandchildren. Most of them never knew him, a tragedy in itself.
I believe it was in the 1950s and 60s when most of our mental institutions were closed or re-purposed (Wingdale among them), because they were old and needed expensive and extensive renovations. Mentally ill patients were sent home and many of them ended up living in cardboard boxes on the streets, under bridges, in train stations, in our cities. They still do. They are the least among us. Now we call them “homeless,” in essence by that label, placing the blame on them, suggesting that they are choosing that lifestyle, rather than placing blame where it really belongs: on our society and our medical system for not providing an acceptable path to treatment for them. Now we are paying the awful price for our failure to deal with mental illness.
While there is no cure for mental illness, in recent years drug companies have developed a number of medications to treat the mentally ill. However, many refuse treatment or live in families that refuse to recognize the problem or are helpless to get medical care for their family member; thus, these patients are never treated or their treatment, like my husband’s, is too little, too late. Their mental conditions escalate. I’ve lived with this. It’s heartbreaking to watch helplessly as a good, kind, intelligent, educated loved one deteriorates from the effects of an untreated mental condition.
I’m begging you to find some way in our otherwise free society to compel the mentally ill to get medical treatment. It’s their right. They deserve treatment and healing as much as anyone else in our society. Mental illness has to be viewed as a physical illness, like cancer or appendicitis. No stigma attached. Treatment is for their own good and they can’t recognize that.
Don’t let this tragedy become a distant memory as the rest of us pick ourselves up and go on with our lives. Please help the mentally ill.
Very truly yours,
Carol G. Barrett
I heard today that depression won.
You have been in my thoughts so much lately. I spoke to your mom last week about you. She had tears in her eyes and her face was tight with the desperation she was fighting. "He just wants to die," she said, with her voice matter of fact and tinged with disbelief at the same time. She spoke with the voice of someone who could not understand why.
I have heard that tone before.
My dad sat beside my hospital bed and said, "Why?" with that same voice. It is the voice of one who could not fathom that their beloved child was unable to love themself.
I wanted to comfort her.
We spoke of her efforts to get you back to the doctors, to adjust your medications, to make sure that you were in a safe place. I made positive comments, said that she was doing all she could.
She was doing all she could.
She will never believe that. Not now.
Nothing that I can say will ever convince her that this was not her fault. She is your mother. She watched you struggle for 20 years with the beast that is depression. She will forever replay the last day of your life in her mind. Forever, forever cycling through the mundane and infuriating things that kept her busy on that day.
You were going to have dinner together, like always. She must have let herself in to your place with her own key. She probably called your name, so hopeful, so trusting that you would answer. I am sure she had a nice meal planned. She would cook for you, nourish you, cheer you, care for you.
She found you.
She will never be the same.
None of us who knew and loved you will ever be the same.
Up to 15% of women experience postpartum mood disorders after the birth of a child.
This is her story of postpartum depression:
Growing up, I often changed my mind about my chosen profession - I wanted to be everything from a ballerina to a doctor.
While that changed regularly, the one thing that never changed was my desire to be a wife and mother. That wish came true in August, 2008 when my then-boyfriend and I found out we were expecting a baby. We got married that October and settled down to start our family.
Pregnancy wasn't what I had envisioned.
My first trimester was absolutely awful. I had morning sickness that routinely lasted through the afternoon. I was so sick that I had to quit my job sooner than I'd planned. I can't remember when the sciatic nerve pain began, but it was so severe that many days, I could hardly get out of bed; that is, unless I wanted to end up on the floor. I'd anticipated some mood swings but what I experienced was over-the-top severe. The amount of weight I gained was much higher than it "should have been," even though I was watching my diet and exercising.
Childbirth was absolutely awful.
I was pushed to have an induction. After 32 hours of back labor and abdominal contractions, followed by three hours of pushing, my baby was born.
I was exhausted.
But I thought, "It's over now - this is when the fun starts!"
That wasn't quite the case.
My mood swings became steadily worse - I'd find myself in tears for no reason or over stupid things. I'd be sad one minute, filled with rage the next, and numb immediately after that.
I spent a lot of time simply rocking my baby and staring out into space. I can't remember what I thought about during those days, but they weren't happy thoughts. I was constantly exhausted but couldn't sleep at night. It was awful. I had no idea what was wrong with me.
I felt like a horrible wife and mother.
One night, I couldn't sleep. I found myself standing at the top of the stairs looking down. I thought about how miserable I was and how easy it would be to throw myself down.
I shook myself and walked away, deciding maybe I'd better go to bed before I did anything dumb. As I headed to bed, the thought popped into my mind: my husband still had pain medications left from his ankle surgery. It'd be so easy to take a bunch of those before going to sleep.
The intensity of these thoughts rattled me and I realized that what I was experiencing wasn't the normal "baby blues" and that I needed help.
My husband is in the Army and, mostly still asleep, recommended I call the Battalion chaplain first. The Chaplain told me that I needed to go straight to the Emergency Room at the hospital on base. He would meet me there.
I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and ended up hospitalized twice. I was on medication as well as seeing a therapist for six months before some lab-work finally showed that I'd developed hypothyroidism (did you know pregnancy can cause hypothyroidism? I didn't!). Treating the hypothyroidism also treated the PPD and I was able to come off of the antidepressants.
Postpartum Depression is a monster and a beast; a nightmare I thought I would never wake from, but I did.
I just wish I hadn't waited so long to ask for help.
Almost a year ago, my daddy killed himself.
I'm starting to be able to think of him without having a complete emotional breakdown.
My daddy took me to my sock hop and I danced on his feet.
My daddy put sparring gear on and fought me in the front yard to help me practice.
My daddy was there for me during my teenage years, loving me unconditionally.
My daddy caught me sneaking out and walked me to where I was going to make sure I was safe.
My daddy stayed up talking to me on the phone when I was drunk, emotional, and homesick.
My daddy listened to me cry when boyfriends and I split.
My daddy cried with me when my privacy was violated by someone I trusted.
My daddy stood up to family members when they were unfair and nasty to me.
My daddy was happy for me when I got pregnant with a boy I had been dating three months.
My daddy walked me down the aisle to marry that boy a year and a half later.
My dad never judged me for my stupid decisions.
Every time I talked to my dad he told me I was beautiful and that he loved me.
A year ago my world came crashing down around me, and I think I'm finally starting to be able to pick up some of the pieces and focus on the good that we did have.
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