It's true. Everyone has their own pain, be it quiet or publicly known. And everyone has their own ways of dealing with the pain, some healthy and some not so healthy.
Those near and dear to me know that I have had 2 people very important to me take their own lives, one being my birth father and the other a close friend. Being that this is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week, I thought I would share some things.
Suicide never makes sense, at least not to me. I have had low times in my life, but never so low that I would think of acting this way. I can't imagine being in so much pain and anguish that I saw no other way to solve my problems. I know that people who take their own lives are often the victims of mental illness and are not in the "right state of mind" when they commit suicide. My father's suicide, while painful and haunting, made more sense to me than that of my friend. My father had his own issues, including those with anger and alcohol. I wouldn't say that I condone his actions or that it still doesn't sting every single day, but I understand to a certain extent. The signs were there.
With Patrick, it was different.
During my orientation week at graduate school, we attended a seminar called "Flashpoint." It outlined warning signs of potentially violent and harmful behavior. While most people laughed this session off, it struck chords close to home for me. I watched the video, mentally running through the last day, week, even month that Patrick was alive, scrutinizing everything that I could recall, looking for any of those signs. I just can't find any. They just weren't there to the point that unless every single person in his life compared very detailed notes could have had an inkling that he was hurting in that way.
My last conversation with Patrick was over Instant Messanger, the most impersonal form of communication. He told me how miserable he was, because of me. And I missed it. I didn't think it was anything more than a fight, than an "I don't feel how you feel" conversation. I didn't think that it was anything to be considered a sign, because there were no others. I had experienced one suicide and I was about to experience another.
My life was forever impacted by the suicides of my father and Patrick. I am who I am today because of choices that they made. While their pain and suffering is over, mine is still there. The scars are still apparent. And I don't try to hide them.
For a while, I was paranoid. I clung desperately to everyone that I loved thinking that every conversation that I had with them could be the last. Every argument had to be resolved immediately. I couldn't live through something like that again. Then I started pushing away to accomplish the same thing.
And then I ended up here, where I am now, both physically and emotionally. After a very long time I feel happy, content, not paranoid, and full of hope and potential.
So, I guess my point is this. You never know how someone is dealing with their pain. You never know what they are hiding and exactly how much they are showing. It is never a bad time to ask how someone is doing. It is never the wrong time to say that you love and care about someone. NEVER EVER.
This week, like every other type of awareness week is just that. Promoting awareness of something that impacts the lives of the people it touches. It's about letting people know the resources and education. It's about reaching out.
And if anyone you know or even yourself has or is considering taking their life, or if you aren't sure...please reach out. Be aware.