Today’s post is a little different. After all if I just wrote about my workouts and food it would get pretty boring. I’ve mentioned before about my bouts with depression and anxiety so the topic of mental health is very important to me. I recently came across a linkup called Mental Health Monday, the brainchild of Stephanie at Athlete At Heart and Liz at Prior Fat Girl. I really love the idea of this linkup, as mental illness is something that we should be talking about, but so often don’t. So here’s my post:
He was six when I first met him. I don’t remember much about then but then again, I was young myself – 15 – and besides it wasn’t him I was there to visit.
He was 11 when I gave birth to his nephew. It was Christmas Day when his brother, Danny and I brought little Nicholas home from the hospital to a very excited Uncle Nick. For weeks Danny and I had tried to decide on a boy name and we were coming up with nothing. Christmas carols about St. Nicholas prompted one of us to suggest Nicholas as a boy name. We both decided we liked the name and settled on it. When we told Nick the baby was going to be named Nicholas, but we would call him Nicky, he was even more excited.
From day one, Nick was thrilled to be an uncle. Since they were only 11 years apart, Nicky grew up with Uncle Nick as just as much a big brother and best friend as an uncle. They were as close as close could be.
He was 27 when he put a gun to his head and ended his life.
I remember the shock when I heard the news. By this time I was living a thousand miles away in Florida and no one told me for a week or so. I was so sad for myself and his family, but the sadness quickly gave way to anger.
See he had called Nicky at about 5 a.m. to say goodbye, but Nicky was asleep and didn’t hear the phone. Nicky felt like if he had answered the phone he could have talked Nick out of it. For so long, I was furious. How could he put my son in that position? To feel guilt and the added pain of thinking he could have stopped it if he had only heard the phone ringing?
How could he be so selfish when he had never been selfish before? How could he hurt those who loved him so much? Furious doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Rage filled me.
But rage is exhausting. You really can’t keep it up for very long without serious damage to yourself, and so I was relieved when the rage began to fade. Sitting in his apartment with a gun to his head is not how I wanted to remember Nick. Nick, the sweet boy with the big smile on his face as he held his nephew that first Christmas Day. Nick, who loved baseball and cats. Nick, with the wicked sense of humor and amazing smile. Nick, who could barter agreements between me and his brother after our marriage disintegrated. Nick, who could make me laugh no matter what was getting me down. That’s what I choose to remember now.
It’s been 7 years since he left us, but he still crosses my mind often. I no longer try to figure out why he did it, because I know I will never understand it anyway. I simply thank God for the good times we had, and for the love and guidance he gave my son while he was here. I pray that he is at peace now, since he never had it in life.
Everyone goes through hard times, everyone gets sad sometimes, but not everyone experiences long-term depression or has suicidal thoughts. But suicide is never the answer. Suicide does not take away the pain, it just gives it to someone else. Fortunately, there are many places to get help.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 21, 2015. This event is a day for people who have been affected by suicide loss to gather together to gain understanding and to comfort and support each other through sharing their stories. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention produces a documentary each year to be included in all Survivor Day events. This year’s film is titled Family Journeys: Healing and Hope after a Suicide.
They also hold Out of the Darkness community walks to raise awareness about depression and suicide and to raise funds for research and programs to prevent suicide.
The suicide rate in America is alarming. In 2013, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide. That’s one every 12.9 seconds. Of those, 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder, usually depression. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts or intentions please get help quickly.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)