Tuesday, October 25, 2011

20 months.

18: 46  At this time, twenty months ago, I had seen my son alive for the last time, but I didn't know it.  I was out and he had made his decision and unknown to me or to hid Dad upstairs, was just finishing things up by making his last few phone calls.  In the time that it will take me to write this, on that night, he will have taken himself away from the pain and desperate unhappiness with which he could no longer cope. 

As I type I glance down in the right hand corner of my laptop and watch the time pass and am acutely aware that as each second passes I am that much closer to that time.  I feel the panic starting to build as it always does as I allow myself to go to the sad place.  It's almost like even now, all these months later, there is still time for me to do something to head off Michael's suicide.  18:49

Today I've been reading back through comments I've been sent and I realize that many I've not responded to.  I think part of the reason for this is that writing about suicide, surviving suicide (not the attempt but the loss caused by), the loss of my son, mood disorders, leave me emotionally drained afterwards.  Please understand that for me this is a good thing.  But one of the comments I read today was one I had read before in response to something I had written about reducing the medication I take.  Although the comment was anonymous I knew right away who had written it and I trust this person completely and value their opinion.  The writer reminded me that having known me both on and off prescribed meds, their opinion was that I did much better on them than off. 

I do.  That doesn't mean I like to take them.  Meds have side affects and for me when I'm starting to feel better that part of my brain that wants to be like everyone else says "you're doing okay..you don't need the meds"..it happens every time!  Now, imagine someone with a more severe mood dysregulation and possibly stronger medication going through the same process.  The results can be terrible.  Normal emotional roller coaster rides are made far far far worse. Withdrawal, if unsupervised can have devastating physical side effects.  I'm bringing this up right now only because today was a beautiful day and although it is the 20-month anniversary of Michael's death I actually thought earlier this morning...."Hey. I'm doing okay..maybe today is a good day to start to cut back on medication x"....I'm a pretty smart woman, so what part of me just doesn't get it, even now???

Mikey really fought the whole idea of meds and he took strong medication that left him, at some times, in a fog.  He couldn't keep food down, his beautiful thick hair was falling out, he lost so much weight, his hands shook, and still he couldn't cope and couldn't get help and at the end he just quit taking everything.  19:09...slow deep breaths...I can feel it coming...in twenty minutes I will go and stand out on my patio where I found my boy. 

I am grateful that I have a support network to remind me that I do better by staying on the regime my doctor has me on for now.   Easier for me.  I'm a woman..(people are for more accepting of women taking mood regulation meds, than they are of men)  Does it come down to this??....I know of two men who will openly talk about the importance of them staying on their prescribed medication for mood dysregulation.  Two!  You guys are my heros!   Coming out of the "medication closet".  It shouldn't be an issue..but it is and it's part of the reason we lose people to suicide.  That's not to say that everyone taking meds for depression, or bipolar, or borderline, or any number of illnesses would end up committing suicide but we would lose fewer if there wasn't a stigma attached to mental disorders.  19:18......watching pictures of Michael on the digital frame. 

So...will go and place a pill under my tongue and go out onto the patio and light a candle for my boy. 
Michael, I love you.  I wish you could have stayed here with us.  We miss you so.

19:22.  Good night.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Asking for help



This is Andrew and Andrew's daughter Lilee-Jean.  Andrew sang Michael's favourite song, 'Hallelujah' at Michael's funeral.  It was powerful and moving and I know Michael was watching from Heaven as Andrew sang for him.

Now Andrew and Chelsey's 10 and a half month old baby girl has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of  brain cancer, Glioblastoma.  Please pray for this young family and for Lilee-Jean.  We know the power of prayer.

Today this is all I want to say, to ask for. 

Michael, I love you. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time and letters

Twenty months ago tonight my son wrote five suicide notes, one to each of his sisters, one to his wife, one to his daughter and one to his Dad and me.  They are long, some filled with nothing but love, some with more anger, but none with fear.  In his letter to us he said that although he didn't want to die, he was okay with his decision and had found some peace in making this decision.  I found the letters on the table the morning of the 21st.  I picked them up and I put them away.  I can't remember what I said to him. I wish I could and I hope I sat down and talked to him about them, but I'm afraid that maybe I didn't.  I was so scared. 

Five days after writing those letters he took himself away from his pain and from us and I find myself wondering what he was thinking during those five days.  Was he maybe holding onto a fragile thread of hope that he wouldn't have to go?  These are the thoughts that can never be answered and ultimately the answer would make no difference, but they are the thoughts which can't be controlled and keep me on the edge of losing control myself, much of the time. 

I've just received two books I've not yet read:  Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Love by David . Bieel, DMin and Suzanne L Foster, MA and A Mother's Story, by Gloria Vanderbilt.  Her son, Carter, brother to Anderson Cooper committted suicide at age 23 in 1988.

Today I spent the day at home with Michael.  I'm comfortable here with his candle burning and his urn on the mantle.  I talk to him throughout the day and comfort myself believing that he hears me.  If you are someone whose opinion differs from mine please don't share that with me...my thoughts, my beliefs get me through my days.

The time is coming for us to pick out a headstone for him.  He has friends who need a place to visit him.  I want to keep him here with us, but there should be a marker to say he was here.  Add this to the list of things no parent should ever have to do. 

Anyway...that's it for today.  Rememering 20 months ago......love you so much Michael.  I miss you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What it is

This morning I got to take my granddaughter to kindergarten.  Twenty-eight years ago I took her daddy to the same classroom.  I had no idea that it would upset me it did, once I was out  in the car and headed home.  How can time have passed so quickly and how can it all have ended up this way?  I understand the time thing..as we get older we all notice how quickly time passes don't we?   

The past two days I've kept myself busy getting organized for fall and winter.  There are still issues concerning Michael's estate needing to be tidied up.  Going through paperwork I found nine pages of emails he wrote me 17 days before he left us.  One page is poetry.  It's beautiful, sad, scared.  It broke my heart again.  I told my husband about it when he got home and he said I should throw all that out.  Never.  I will never throw away those precious last words from my son. 

Once before in my life, years ago, my mother convinced me  that the only way to recover from grief was to put that part of life behind oneself, so I burned 18 years of my life, pictures, letters, school year books, all in her fireplace.  It didn't work.  Well of course it didn't you're probably thinking but back then I was willing to try anything.  Since then I've come to realize that all our life's experiences go into making us the people we are and although I'm not quite a subscriber to "all things happen for a reason", I am one to "it is what it is". 

Today is visiting day with our granddaughter and this will get me through the day.  I've probably said before that she is the only reason we stay living where we do.  There will come a day when we won't need to be here, but for now we feel she has lost enough and so have we.  Today is Happy UnBirthday day..cupcakes, candles and a game of Cold Cold Hot to find her little gift.  For her, it's all about icing the cupcakes and putting in the candles.  Everything else is just...fun. 

Today too, the time came to start to repaint the bedroom my son lived in for the last three months of his life: the Winnie-the-Pooh room (old  nursery).   He came to live with us to feel "safe" while he continued to look for a new home and a place to live.  Perhaps it kept him alive for a bit longer, perhaps it drove him to the end.  Even though his closet remains untouched I am going to change everything about the room.  Oddly this isn't turning out to be the big deal I thought it was going to be.  Scraping off the old wallpaper this morning was therapeutic.

So, that's about it for today.  Mikey's candle is about to be re-lit.  This is the time of day when I start to feel like I've been punched in the abdomen...the pain is very physical...and this is the time of day when I either give up and let the waves come, medicate, or practice breathing knowing I just have to do it for six hours.

It is what it is. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Strengths and weaknesses

A long time between posts.  There have been many times when I wanted to sit and write but didn't.  I worked so hard this summer at "getting better".  I don't think one "gets better" from the loss of a loved one to suicide.  That is the only perspective I can speak from. We may learn coping skills, we make medicate, meditate, drink, pray, run away; I've done all but the drink and that is only because I do medicate.  We read and we write and we weep.  We reach out to friends when we are frightened or feeling alone or just looking for some validation for the despair we feel.  This summer I've done all these things and because I have such wonderful friends and family I understand on the blackest days, the days when I don't think I can go, that I have to, and more than that, that I want to.  I just don't want to want to.  Does that make any sense? 

I've realized that I am a very strong woman.  But to my way of thinking, strength shouldn't be compared to emotion.  Yes, I weep every day.  That doesn't mean I'm weak.  It means, well, it means I am very sad and I miss my son and I am so sorry he had to suffer so before he chose to leave. 

One the other hand, I saw my son as a strong man who fought long and hard to stay healthy but was eventually betrayed by the chemicals in his brain causing his mood dysregulation, by the medical system who cannot help so many, by Health Canada for ignoring his diagnosis and refusing him the help he needed to successfully return to work. I do not see his act as one of weakness, but as one of despair and strength to end is pain  before his illness took him to places and decisions he did not want to go to or make.    Healthy people do not do this.  Desperate, frightened, pained people do, people whose ability to cope with the pain in their life has been surpassed.  We are not the ones to judge what causes pain to another.  God know this.  God doesn't judge those who commit suicide.  He understands.  He is a compassionate God who sees the suffering I believe honestly that He gave my boy the emotional strength to take his own life.  Michael was terrified of dying but more terrified of living.  He prayed to God that he had known as a child, believed in but only really went to in times of trouble. 

My worst times are when I rememer our last two years and recall how frightened and lonely his was after his marriage ended, how he grieved for times he couldn't spend with his child.  I think those memories are harder than his death.  Because the night he committed suicide I knew his pain had ended. 

I have poems he wrote about what was going on in his soul as he was deciding to stay or leave.  They are heart breaking because I feel so strongly there should be choices other than living or dying.  There should be help.  And there is so very little. 

I have a friend who has a son going through what my son went through.  He no longer wants to live.  His mother is dying of cancer.  He has other issues but talks suicide.  He can't get help..please God don't let us lose him too because we don't really know what to do to help these people.

I would like to hear from anyone who is in a similar situation.  Here in our little town we are starting a suicide survivor group.  I think there are 7 or 8 families who have lost children to suicide.  Way too many...any is too many.

I'm a bit sleepy now..it was an emotional day..but I needed to check back in...this is my place of safety and support.  I'm going to go and write to my son now.