30 Jan Ok, let’s talk.
When I was younger, I used to think that suicide was selfish. I couldn’t imagine how anyone would do anything like that to their family deliberately. Like, what the heck??
I also didn’t know anything about mental illness.
Nine years ago I became a mom. My son was a total joy. A happy, cuddly little man that introduced me to a kind of love I didn’t know existed. Life was good and my husband and I were happy….tired but happy. When he was 8 months old I got pregnant again. We were so excited to just expand what we had and we felt on top of the world. Sixteen weeks into my pregnancy, I lost the baby. Things jammed to a screeching halt and I felt alone, sad and like I had failed somehow. I coped with focusing my energy on getting pregnant again, and fortunately a few months later, I was.
While my sons birth was textbook awesome, my daughters was the complete opposite. Without getting into details, it was a bit crazy. Having gone through alot to come into the world, my daughter spent most of her first few days crying. If she wasn’t crying, she was eating or throwing up everywhere. I remember getting home from the hospital in a complete fog with that hot feeling you get when you are really, really tired. As the weeks passed, I cried alot. It was winter, it was cold and dark, I was exhausted from chasing an active two year old and trying to soothe a baby who only slept in 20-45 min intervals. I felt myself slipping into a fog. It was heavy and it was hard. I have this incredibly vivid memory of this turning point I guess you could call it…I was laying on my sons bed with him on one side and my daughter on the other. I had this thought pass over me that I had never had before- “maybe they would be better without me.” I know now the thought was irrational, but at the time, I actually believed it to be true. I told my husband about it and I got help.
I was really lucky. Within a month or so, the fog started to lift and I started to feel like myself again. It’s not always that easy of a road to recovery for people, so I consider myself very blessed. About a year later, Michael Landsberg, a TSN sports analyst lost one of his close friends to suicide. Michael also suffers from depression. His article forever changed my perspective on mental health and allowed me to connect the parallels in my personal struggles with those who suffer much deeper. He said in his article: “People kill themselves when the fear of living another moment outweighs the fear of dying at that moment.” He was speaking about his friend Wade Belak, a former NHL player who was known for being a wonderfully kind, happy guy who had an incredible love for his daughters. It was when he turned the subject to Wade’s children that turned the light on for me. These were the lines that got me, these were the lines that made me understand: “I see him now smiling in my hallway with his daughter Andie on his shoulders. Together they seemed to be 15 feet tall. With Wade, I believe he was struck by a tsunami of depression. In an instant he somehow went from calm to calamitous. Love for family and for life no longer made sense. Instantly one and one was no longer two.”
He truly loved his daughters. He truly loved his life. Mental illness robbed him of that.
I read that article and finally understood to a small degree what a terrible, overwhelming, scary and awful sadness these VICTIMS of mental illness must have. Imagine what kind of a dark place these people must be in, to think ending it all is the only option. That is devastating. I was so lucky. My moments passed. Theirs multiplied and didn’t leave.
I am so grateful that Michael Landsberg shared this article. I don’t know if it was because of the timing in my life that I read it that it left such an impact but regardless, I’m grateful for his share all these years later. It also acts as a reminder to me why we all need to keep talking. You never know who you might help or who might hear it at just the right time. It’s not about you. It’s about enabling others to speak out when they are struggling and to get the help they need.