Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Suicide Watch: My Story

I never got to see John David in this costume. It was for a first grade play he was in. My mom made it for him and took this picture. I was in the hospital. I had tried to commit suicide.

Do you see the sadness in my son's eyes? He didn't know what I had done, he just knew that his life had been turned upside down and everyone he loved was letting him down. Terrifying him.

My ex-husband, his father, and I were in the midst of our divorce. His father was having an affair and left us. I had an undiagnosed mental illness and I was an active alcoholic.

John David saw a lot of screaming, sobbing, so much anger. John David once called 911 because he thought I was going to hurt his father. The things he saw, you can see reflected in his eyes.  John was 7, Jack only 3 1/2. Luckily Jack's memory of this time is much more fuzzy, but of course he bears his own scars.

In my mind, I thought my boys would be better off without me. I was so absorbed in my own pain, I didn't realize how my death would make things so very much worse for the boys I was trying to protect.

Obviously my suicide attempt didn't work. I am SO unbelievably lucky.

I have spent every day since that day trying to make up for that look in my son's eyes. Trying to make his pain go away. Trying to fix the sins of the past.  But it doesn't work like that.  I can't fix it for him.

But I can share my story. I can tell you that even though it was awful, we made it. I am incredibly close to my two young men.  I have worked like hell to make them know that there would be one constant in their life.  That no matter what, I will be there for them.  And I am.

There are too many families who are not as lucky as we are. Mental illness is insidious, it can be black, painful, overwhelming. For one moment, it even eclipsed my love of my boys.

But I'm still here. My boys are adults now who know about all of the secrets of my past. I want them to be aware that both mental illness and alcoholism can have a hereditary component.

I want you to all know that mental illness is real. I'm sure you know someone who lives with it and suffers from it.  One reason I'm writing this is because someone very close to me "doesn't buy" this whole mental illness thing. They think it's just an excuse for being weak.

Mental illness has not made me weak, it has made me strong. I don't have everything all figured out yet, not by a long shot. But I do know that I will never willingly leave my sons and my husband. It's the kind of strength that has been forged by fire. We all have our scars, but I refuse to try to hide mine.

I'm hoping that by shining a spotlight on this part of my life I can start to let it go. To stop punishing myself for my actions. And maybe in doing so, just one person will hold on a little longer. Maybe one person will change the way they view mental illness.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Feel free to share it. I'm not looking to get a bunch of clicks, to up page views, I'm just hoping maybe someone in your life will read it too.


1 comment:

Queenie Jeannie said...

I love you!!!!!! You know I share your pain, having lived it myself. I'm so proud of you. You HAVE been forged in fire and are so incredibly strong. Keep looking up, keep the faith, keep the love....you've got this!