How to start? Just write I suppose.
This picture is, from the right, my sister Gia, mother Nina, and myself. Today, I am the only girl/woman alive. Tragically, my mother and sister both committed suicide.
Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, can speak to what exactly drives a particular person to want to end their lives. All suicides are complex and involve particulars unique to the person suffering some unimaginable pain.
In my own family’s situation, my mother was clearly severally mentally ill. She had tried to kill herself both before and after having children. After one suicide attempt, she threatened to take us children with her and was institutionalized at the notorious Bellevue mental hospital. The trauma of that interminable stay, where my father was unable to get her released for months, lingered the rest of her life and stopped her from seeking proper help.
When my mother finally managed to take her own life, the news wasn’t shocking nor tragic. My mother suffered, most likely, everyday of her life and, while she tried to eke out a manageable existence, the efforts never satisfied and she was finally out of her anguishing pain.
While my sister Gia had a different life than my mother, the outcome ended in the same manner. My lone remaining sibling, my brother Thom, and I don’t have nearly as many answers for Gia’s death. Perhaps the saddest aspect to her death by suicide is that it didn’t come as a complete shock.
During our childhood, our mother had spoken frequently about ending her life and blamed us children for ruining her life and causing her to want to end it. Those “life lessons” from the person whose role is to nurture you doesn’t prepare a child to evolve into a healthy and fully functioning adult.
For myself, after many years of running away from my traumatic childhood, I suffered a nervous breakdown and almost succumbed to what seemed an inevitable end to the women in our family.
Previously, many tools helped keep me going through the years: books, animals, movies, Seinfeld, outside success, music, and surrogate mothers (thank you Nina Thys and Jane Livran). However, all those tools were temporary solutions and their usefulness weren’t proper defenses to deep psyche pain. As is patently obvious with the recent “celebrity” suicides that get massive media coverage (unlike the 45,000 per year in the US alone), standard success in the outside world doesn’t necessarily equate to inner emotional stability nor true happiness.
After a few years of rapid deterioration, I was able to get help and finally stopped running from the pain. For better or worse (definitely for the worse sometimes!), I’m an extremely stubborn person, and I was determined to give my son the opportunity to experience a healthy childhood.
While I don’t want to be an expert on suicide, I am.
My next post will be my thoughts about the current discourse regarding suicide prevention. I don’t have definitive answers how to slow down the rapid growth of suicide, but our current suicide prevention programs aren’t working. I feel uniquely qualified (lucky me!) to offer suggestions, some of which are far outside current proposed responses.
At any rate, this has been a serious post so I want to end on a lighter note. My suggestion is drink some strong coffee, get some exercise outside, read a good book, watch a funny Seinfeld episode, and laugh at one random thing today!