Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Is it a Sickness?

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Sometimes words we speak come back to haunt us.  For instance, today my boss told me that a fuel rep that she’d been pretty close to had committed suicide.  She’d found out he’d passed away in September, but she’d only just found out what the cause of death was.  He was divorced but planning to be remarried in November and he left behind two teenage daughters.  I’d never met the man but still felt a little sad at the loss…the loss his fiance and daughters must feel.

There was another party to the conversation however.  Overhearing that Mike had committed suicide he said with condescension dripping from his lips, “It takes somebody really sick to do that; taking the easy way out.”  Confession time: I’ve said such a thing. I’ve thought such a thing.  I’ve made the joke that if I died and it was ruled suicide that someone should investigate because there’s no way I’d kill myself, there’s no way I’d hurt myself.

Having lived a little longer, though, and having been through some things I find a bit more compassion for the failures that cause a person to “do that”.  Saying that it “takes somebody really sick to do that” really is stating the obvious, isn’t it?  After all someone would truly have to be in a bad way to take their own life.  Have I ever thought about suicide?  Only fleetingly…until I reminded myself it was a crazy thought.  Have I thought I and those around me might be better off if I were dead?  Most assuredly.  I’ve sat in my bathtub and lay awake at night in my bed wishing I were.  I’ve cried out to God to just take me already. Thankfully I’m not in that place anymore.  But having gone to that place I can say with relative assurance that I was sick.  I wouldn’t call what I was suicidal.  I was too chicken to be.  I was too afraid I’d botch the job.  And with the help of some good friends and a fantastic fiance I was able to see a better life ahead.

The easy way out? No. I don’t buy it. I think someone who takes their own life just doesn’t see a better alternative. And it’s a sad state of affairs when a person feels their best alternative is to just not be.  I’m sorry that anyone out there doesn’t realize there are those around them that aren’t “better off” without them.  In fact they’re infinitely worse off.  Some people view suicide as a selfish act.  Is it?  Maybe in the mind of the suicidal it’s the ultimate sacrifice.  Or maybe they’re in so much pain they can’t think of another way to ease it. 

I don’t think there are many people who haven’t been touched in some way by this “sickness”.  Maybe it was a former schoolmate, a family member, an acquaintance, a close friend.  We always wonder when we hear about it what was going through the person’s mind.  Whether true or not their reality is grim.  Their reality tells them there are no better days ahead.  Life is hard.  I’ve learned a few lessons.  One of them is to be less judgmental.  No matter how similar situations may seem, one person has never walked a mile in another’s moccasins.  Be careful what you say.  Moreover be careful how you say it.   You never know what the people listening to you have been through. 

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5 thoughts on “Is it a Sickness?

  1. The pain that man was experiencing must have been powerful, but sadly we'll never know what the true root of it was. Everyone, we need to look out for each other. If someone is suffering, reach out to them, listen to them. Let them know they're not alone.

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  2. Well said. My guess is that anyone saying that it's the easy way out has never experienced the anguish of holding a load gun to their own head, or the brokenness of holding a razor to their own wrist. I can't figure how such an act would be "easy" at all, let alone the circumstances which would drive someone to that point.I often picture life metaphorically, where we are all in a dark hallway with thousands of doors; the doors representing our available options. The trouble is that of the thousands of doors, only a sparse few doors have a light in front of them so that we can recognize them as options, while the rest of the doors wait silently in total darkness. Which doors are lit up varies from person to person. Because of that, sometimes we need someone else to reach out to us and guide us to a different door, a different option that they can see but we cannot.

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  3. Imagine an elderly person entirely alone, no spouse, no children. Not being of attractive appearance, s/he has been ridiculed, teased, and shunned forever, beginning in infancy (people can be wonderful – they can also be very cruel). There is then for this person no kind face to turn to, nor even any capability of wishing there were.S/he is afflicted with excruciatingly painful disease. Doctors are so hung up about drug addiction that they will not adequately prescribe to relieve the pain. Someone explain to me what s/he has to live for. Someone explain to me why s/he should not desire to end his unbearable existence. How would the termination of this life cause pain to anyone?The smug assurance of the person you quoted grates. People like this ensure the law that make euthanasia illegal.Sorry this comment wasn't a bit more cheerful. This is a tough topic.

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  4. I have been there. I both believed that I would be free of pain with my death, and the world would be better off without me. The most powerful moment for me was when a friend said, "It's your life. I won't make you stick around just because it would be sad for me to lose you."If someone is hurting so much that they don't see life as worth living, isn't it just as selfish to expect them to go on living just to make everyone else feel better?? Isn't that just as sick?That said. I don't think a person that is suicidal should just be dismissed. Help them find a better way, but don't ask them to stay just to make you happy. I'd lived my whole life trying to make everyone else happy, and it didn't make life very livable.It did get better. I'm glad I didn't end it the ten million times I thought about it. It didn't get better until I FINALLY realized it's my life, and if I'm going to live, I'm going to LIVE. No more trying to make everyone else happy. No more trying to fit into a box that isn't me.

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  5. I never got to the point of actually verbalizing my thoughts. I did visualize ways that it might happen. Though I never visualized myself doing the deed, I did see myself…say…having a car accident or falling asleep and drowning in the bathtub. Morbid, huh? Anyway I'm glad you found a better way and I'm glad I did, too. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to have some foresight to see it's not a train. And you're very right to say that the depression, whether mild or suicidal, doesn't lift until you realize you just can't live your life for other people.

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