Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Survivors

Today is world suicide prevention day. It's an invitation to reach out to people who might be struggling. like GET OFF YOUR BOTTOM AND ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. I don't always think about suicide and John being dead sometimes it seems really like a far away life that didn't really happen.

I don't really know if I was great at this with John before he died. It was a long struggle and his family worked hard and in the end people who are determined to end their lives get to choose if they stay here. One of the hardest things about days of memorial is we spend one day talking about it then the struggle to survive continues for everyone. After you've gone home from your walk where you donated money to something I still go home and my kids dad is dead.

I'ts been 16 months.
I feel like some of what happened to me was ugly. really ugly. Like I was hurting so much and I just resented other people who got sympathy or seemed to get over stuff faster or seemed to get more support from their family or work. Or if they got life insurance or something. My neighbors husband died a few months later and her family bought her a house and she could work part time. I resented her. A lady died on trek and her family got a ton of support. Yep- resented that.  I looked at that ugly part of myself and I'm not sure what to think of it. I don't actually resent support I want people to succeed. It's like when you don't get something and then later your realize you didn't want it but when you are going through it everything is so overwhelming. Not exactly being grateful there. That's part of the ugly part of suicide- when you forget to be grateful for your friends and you resent that suicide deaths are less supported than other ones. The hierarchy or loss shouldn't really be a competition.

It's the part of me that gets jealous and angry. It's the part of me that just wanted to quit when John died- like- was this not enough bullshit? I think we all have that part. Even if you are trying to be grateful. Loss didn't totally make me into a beautiful butterfly of love and support it just pissed me off.  Like CAN WE GET A CLEANUP HERE BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO CLEAN UP THIS MESS. I went on leave from work for depression. Yep- didn't really share that with many people. Some people said I was being selfish. Probably true. I was just sort of depressed out of my mind and jealous of my dead ex that got to never pick up the pieces of his own mess.

Pain can make you forget you have a kick ass life and awesome friends and rad kids.

I never got a card from work when John died. I was approved for half day but had the same quota as other full day reps. I drove up to the mountains where I go when I need to be in my place and walked up and just wanted to die. I couldn't think of a way that was going to work for sure. I wanted to be rescued by someone else. Realized I couldn't really do a high stress sales job with double quota. A job I really wanted at a company I sort of loved in healthcare that I also love. When I wasn't hating them both .  I've never experienced a stranger reaction from myself. I wouldn't have made it without friends that sort of pushed me through. Without a training plan I didn't always follow or a race.

Completely weird.

Maybe that's why like 90% of people don't really know how to talk about suicide. The really ugly part that hurt you might be over and you have to find a place to honor that loss and that person's life that doesn't threaten your pain.

Part of why I would write this is that some time one of you is going to have your spouse or child commit suicide. If you live in Utah you will know someone this year most likely. You will be angry and everyone will tell you they were amazing and don't blame yourself and mostly they will be telling you to be quiet. Mostly they will tell you that you cannot be angry even though it is a physiological response. Mostly they will tell you at least you are ok even though you just increased your risk of suicide by at least 25%- you are one of the highest risk groups now and they will tell you to put your kids in sports or they will die by suicide. There are a few groups but not really and you will wonder what's normal.

The internet might save you. You might take a step back and semi fall apart and fall in love with yoga. You might not be able to watch trite movies anymore about happy endings with divorce or with death. I did a lot of yoga. I still work out and have a plan. I still always have lots of plans and I reach out to friends for support.  Stumbling through the haze that was loss for me and grief and depression made me realize how much we are all connected and lift each other up.

Let's take a moment to remember that part of this loss is just angry and ugly and jealous, People who are hurting do ugly things. I saw that with my own anger- I wanted ugly things to happen to people. Not because I actually wanted that I just couldn't see past my own pain and hurt. People told me to be careful not to say I was struggling or it would be hard to get a job. I wasn't convinced I wanted a job. It was like a haze that I couldn't seem to wake up from. One of the biggest risk factors for attempting suicide? Someone in your life completing suicide. Remember that next time you talk to a survivor or family member. Or a friend seems to call out for attention in a post. I am grateful for all the people who were gentle with me when they really didn't have to be and I probably didn't deserve it.

They chose to help me and it means a lot. Today think about how you can help someone choose to stay.

I don't think suicide will go away.  At least the loss won't ever undo itself from my world.
We can work for treatment but part of it will be looking at it like a real illness. Like cancer. Grief and death just don't give a shit. Like mental illness doesn't give a shit if you have work to do and family. Everyone grieves differently and you just have to live through it. I connected with Dese'Rae L. Stage and she had a cool project where she talks about choosing to stay. I like her project because it's based on attempt survivors. people who are saying mental illness happens and you can choose to stay. Tell your story.

Healthcare can do better. There is a project at the university of southern California looking at virtual reality treatment for veterans with PTSD and it is AMAZING. There is a program to help train healthcare professionals to deal with non compliant patients. We can use healthcare IT.
There have been SO MANY INNOVATIONS. I was a beta tester for an app to prevent suicide a few weeks ago- for high risk patients to make a safety plan. It's been amazing to see the support from people and also to see how much further we have to go. I'm involved in some other groups too that have technology that has been shown to reduce risk.

Every time I was angry I decided to try to figure out how to be assertive about it. I'm angry that there wasn't a memorial scholarship for my kids. So I decided we will set one up for John and give scholarships to providers and companies that are looking at ways technology and healthcare IT models can reduce suicide.  Or provide a better support for after it happens. We are starting a support group for survivors of suicide loss for physicians and medical students. I wanted it to be solution focused. I don't want to make noise about something for the sake of noise.

There's a sort of in between place in grief where you are coming back to yourself and then sometimes get dragged back under. I told people I met in the last 16 months that in like a year they'll be like- yeah she's way different than when I met her. I don't really feel 100% back to normal but I'm starting. Now I'm back to planning our support group. We need professional fundraisers and we are starting a facebook group and we need some photography and graphic design talent. We could also use submissions for scholarships. Want to get involved? here are some links: our website our facebook group

want to donate to the fund?
Donate Here

If you're hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada). If you don't like the phone, text START to Crisis Text Line at 741-741.


  1. Absolutely essential blog post/article--frankly written from experiences no one should have to face, ever, and especially not alone. May I please share your post?!

    So impressed by how far you have come up out of something so deep and dark and ugly. I think when we face things that drag us through a personal hell, the longer we fight through 'recovery' the more cable we become, and the better a resource we will always be for others facing these same nightmares.

    1. My words are insufficient to describe how much I appreciate all that you shared.


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