The Ones Left Behind

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”    ~ C.S. Lewis

One thing, subject I should say,always bouncing around in my head more so than the pain of depression and tiredness of life was the ones I would be leaving behind. I knew that no matter how terrible a person I knew myself to be and although I was sure everyone was going to be better off without me, they would be sad and they would wonder why I chose to go.

In my experiences hearing about those that had chosen suicide both before and since my own attempt in November 2012, the phrases and expressions are always the same. “How selfish of them to do this.”/ “They had so much to live for.”/ “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”/ “Why didn’t they think of the children/their parents/ their husband/wife?” / “Why??”  Before my own attempt, I would raise my voice in agreement. “ selfish!! How could they?! I am so angry!” When in fact, I knew I had been fighting my own urges to do the same for years. But I felt somewhat superior because so far I had managed to avoid acting on it, so I was NOT selfish. Or, at least I hadn’t been caught acting on it.

Since my attempt, and even during, I think about the people that love me and how things would be for them after my life was over. In my extreme depression and pain I felt that I could not be a good mother, daughter, employee, friend to them and this was the kindest thing I could do. I felt they would be grateful for relieving them of having to deal with a person like myself. My kids would be left with my life insurance and would be taken care of through college. My parents were already burdened with my sister who asked so much of them all her life with her disabilities, I couldn’t heap anything else on them. I see things more clearly now and understand the pain I have caused. I see how scared they are for me and know how much worse it would have been if my attempt had gone undiscovered for a few moments more. I have read everything I could get my hands on about the subject of depression and suicide and I know what that legacy means for children. The last thing I have always wanted is for my children to be like me and for them to follow me into that darkness would have been more of a Hell than any I have ever seen in any movie or imagined in any nightmare.

After I was released from the hospital I willingly gave up the big, beautiful house I had worked so hard for and moved my children and me into my parent’s house and our things into storage. This was step one in helping everyone trust me again. This was not easy for me because I have always been fiercely independent and would never ask anyone for anything since the day I left home for college but not asking for help was a huge weakness of mine, so this was probably good for all of us. I was still scared of what I had done as well and didn’t completely trust my own judgement so anything my therapist and parents advised, I was willing to comply. In those first few days and weeks I concentrated on starting a new routine for the girls and trying to break out of this zombie state I was in, even though sometimes all I could manage was folding laundry and laying on the couch exhausted.

My favorite time of the day was bedtime but in order to get there I had to shower. That was my least favorite part of the day because I was exposed to what I had done to myself. The bruises on my neck were still faint and the wounds on my arms were unavoidable. The stitches could not be removed for a few more days and until then, I still felt bound to that horrible day. I was becoming more aware of my condition. That it was not normal to feel this way. My mother and father would ask me questions, trying to understand how I was feeling. I was more than willing to answer anything they asked because I was expecting anger and even anticipating that they would disown me. They gave me complete support and love instead and that is what ultimately helped me heal so well. I could not have gotten to where I am now without everything they have done for me. They have never, not once, made me feel guilty for what I did. I guess they understand I do a good enough job of that by myself.

My father asked me one morning as I shuffled around getting the girl’s breakfast and school lunches ready, “Is this hard for you, getting up and doing the morning routine?” I said, “It’s not hard, Dad. It just hurts. Everything hurts. It’s so hard to explain depression. It’s like I have a scuba suit on and I’m at the bottom of the ocean where it’s dark and there’s all this pressure and I’m doing everything I am supposed to do at the bottom of the ocean in this scuba suit as fast as I can but I’m frustrated because it’s difficult and exhausting to even move.” My Dad looked at me and said, “I just don’t understand, I guess. I wake up happy every day.” And I said, “Dad, I don’t know that I understand what it feels like to be happy.”

I do know love, though. I remember being small and laying in bed at night crying because I loved my parents so much and being afraid they didn’t know how much I loved them. I love my children, without a doubt. I worry about how everything I do and have done affects them. My main motivation for getting well and staying well is them. I suppose stating that I would step in front of a train for them doesn’t have as much weight as other mothers but how about saying that I would live a long life and die a normal, natural death for them? That, I am working for. And I won’t give that up again.

For now, I feel compelled when I hear someone say of a person I know of who has taken their own life (of which there have been two since my attempt) that they are selfish, to tell them that they weren’t feeling selfish when they made that choice. They were in more pain than they could bare. They most likely had a mental condition that wouldn’t allow them to see outside of that pain. And I want to tell the ones they left behind (as I want to assure my parents and children) that it WAS NOT your fault this happened. You didn’t miss something. There wasn’t something you could have said or done to make it better any more than you can cure cancer for a person on chemotherapy.

And to those out there like me that are hurting. I understand the pain. And I know the cliches you hear from well meaning friends aren’t making it better. And I know I felt like no one would ever really love me or understand me again, but they did. I know I will be sad again, but it is okay. I know now how to ask for help and it doesn’t make me weak. You are not weak either. You, too, will be okay.


About Christine O.

I had been a young, single Mom to two girls for ten years; until March 9, 2014 when I married my soul-mate Jason. I’m a former 20 year+ full time executive in a demanding field turned business owner (this year); marathon runner, daughter to the perfect parents, oldest sister of a highly successful ‘normal’ younger brother and ‘functional’ single-mother (of 3) sister, coach, boss, best friend, member of the church choir, volunteer for the local NAMI, AFSP, and CASA organizations, and have over time become well acclimated to the world of mental illness after a life changing event or two. I have also become known in my community as the one who takes on the High School year after year in attempts to have a Suicide Prevention Program in place (as in Texas statute). My goal in writing, blogging and learning as much as I can about such subjects is to defeat stigma associated with brain disease, preventing suicide in the future, and saving my family.
This entry was posted in depression, Health, major depressive disorder, mental illness, single parenthood, stigma, suicide, suicide attempt survivor, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Ones Left Behind

  1. Wow. I get it and I understand. Depression sucks the life out of everything.

    I’m so very glad that you’re still here. Like you said on my blog, hang in there.

  2. I HATE when people with no clue about what real depression feels like say how selfish someone is for attempting/committing suicide. We need more people to speak out like this and fight the stigma we face over our mental health. Best of luck in your journey.

  3. lhabedank says:

    I’m glad I’ve found your blog. I lost my only sibling to suicide 3 years ago this month and while it has devastated me beyond comprehension, not once have I been angry with him for the choice he made. I self injured from a very young age and have suffered from major depressive disorder my entire life so I haven’t for one moment blamed him for the choice he made– sadly, I’ve been envious of his new place in this world more often than I should admit. It’s a daily struggle for me but I’m not angry at him because I know exactly what it is like to be in that place and how tiresome and exhausting it is just to keep yourself alive for fear of what it would do to those left behind. Thank you for sharing your story, Christine!

    • Christine O. says:

      Thank you for commenting. I am so sorry to learn of your brother. I can only imagine how difficult that must be for you, especially when you are fighting your own illness. Both of my siblings are healthy mentally but my sister has always had learning issues (dyslexia) and I have recently realized that I subconsciously resent her and always have, because she had help with her issues growing up and I was always left on my own. Even now, my parents are so tired (and my mother is also sick) from the year of advocating for my sister that there isn’t much left for me. Or, this is how I feel it would be so I don’t ever ask for help and I continue to build resentment.

      I write all of that because your ability to sympathize for your brother, even though you suffer as well, is extremely selfless and empathetic of you. I hope you take time for yourself and are able to focus on your healing and treatment. And it seems as if you don’t take on unnecessary blame.

      You are obviously very strong in spite of your illness and I am so flattered that you found my blog helpful. I very much appreciate your kind words and pray you have peace and health. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

      • lhabedank says:

        It is so interesting you should mention taking on unnecessary blame… because I do. Which makes no sense at all! I know during all the times I was feeling most suicidal I know there was nothing anyone could have done or said to have changed my mindset… so while logically I know I couldn’t have prevented Brian’s death I still continue to beat myself up over it… since I knew he was suffering so badly and I still couldn’t keep him here. So I’m a confused ball of a mess, it would seem. 🙂 But I’m working on it… I look forward to continuing to follow your blog!

      • Christine O. says:

        It must be so hard not to take blame on. My mother does this also. She always tells me she should have known I was in so much pain, because she is my mother. But there was no way I would have let her know and if she had suspected I would have not let her help me. I honestly didn’t realize I was as depressed as I was until I was sitting in my tub with the knife. My daughter felt some guilt, too. She had just gotten into trouble the week before for a slight untruth. The nature of people, to try to find reason in themselves. Kind of a sad, twisted narcissism. But people do want to feel like they could have done something to prevent it. But even if so that time…there may have been another time very soon after. I am glad you are working on it for your own peace of mind! ☺️

  4. I relate so much to your post, I have been in the same situation, felt the same feelings, and have made several attempts to end my life. It is so hard to be in this position, and I am so glad that you have the support of your parents around you.

  5. Heather says:

    I actually just lost my brother to suicide 2 weeks ago and the pain is so unbearable! But I have not once been angry with him… The pain he was feeling hurt him so badly and knowing that he is in a better place and not feeling so much pain is what gives me peace! Reading this helped me so much more! You are a very brave and amazing person for sharing this! And just know that you helped my entire family by doing so! Thank you so much again!

    • Christine O. says:

      I am so glad what I wrote helped. It is my hope that my experiences can help other understand this a little better and also hope to help those with suicidal depression reach out. One step at a time…

      Thank YOU so much for the kind words during your time of grief.

  6. Heather says:

    I’m so sorry I just realized that you ran for my brother and your daughter knew him! From the bottom of my families heart we are so grateful for you! Thank you again so much!!!!

    • Christine O. says:

      It was my pleasure, Heather. I wanted to make sure your family was ok with my doing so and posting and wearing his picture during the race. Jessie told me your Mother was appreciative and he passed along thanks from the family. You all have bigger things to tackle as a family and I am honored you wrote to me. Thank you! I have been praying for each of you. ❤

      – Christine O'Hagan

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