Sunday, October 07, 2018

After a long illness, valiantly battled

Of course this day was going to come.
I never thought about it, so when it did come, it seemed to be out of the blue.
It wasn't.

You can't work on a book about parenting kids with mental health challenges and NOT expect to deal with the death of a kid. Well, I didn't. And now we are.


While I did not know her, I knew of her.
But she was someone's child, someone else's friend, someone else's treasure.
And her life is over after a long illness, valiantly battled. I don't use the word suicide on purpose. She was in the throes of an illness that is often hard to see, always hard to understand, and can be fatal.

The photo of her at the prom, a recent one, shows a young lady seemingly on the cusp of adulthood, happy and healthy. As it turned out, none of that was true.

I can't look at that photo without weeping for the loss, the incredible pain her loved ones feel.

I wish there was something we could do.
I wish this will never happen again.

Mental illness is sneaky. It's invisible, often.
It's never a choice.

Just a reminder, for those of you who have children who might be off-kilter, who exhibit symptoms you don't understand, Deb Vlock's book about Parenting Kids With Mental Health Challenges will be pubbed in November.

The only comfort I can find as we mourn this lovely young woman's death, is that we are lighting a candle even if we are also cursing the darkness.


27 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

God, GOD, hey GOD will you please damn the demons once and for all, especially for the young. Enough with death already.
I said, , ENOUGH !
Will God get pissed at me if I yell at him/her/whomever?

Well said words Janet. We sometimes forget what a good writer you are.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I am so sorry to hear this, Janet. One of my teenage gang of four took her life and I will never know why. And will never know what we could have done to help.
And two other boys in my larger group of friends.

nightsmusic said...

I'm so very sorry to hear this, for you, for the family and friends. It's a tragedy without reason. I know. When I was in high school, a young man who I considered a friend but who considered himself so much more to me, shot himself in the head while we were on the phone. I'll never, ever get that memory or the questions that came from it out of my head and it took me years to realize, it wasn't me. I didn't cause it. He had problems far beyond his unrequited crush. But such is the aftermath. Praying for all who knew her.

Sherry Howard said...

Prayers and sadness! There are now words to make this better.

Karen McCoy said...

Thank you for sharing this. Thinking of you, this lovely young woman, and her family.

nightsmusic I'm so sorry you had to go through that, as well as the aftermath.

I'm not sure if it helps, but there is a song actually called 1-800-273-8255--the suicide hotline. It's beautiful, poignant, and hopefully can provide a bit of comfort.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm very sorry to hear this. Suicide is such a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If only people could grasp some straw to get through that dark moment. Better days are ahead and life is worth living.

I did a story on the horse program for wounded vets that runs with the Air Force Academy stables in Colorado Springs once. It's not involved with the government and totally independent funded, but what remarkable work they do. Vets who can't be reached by psychologists start opening up to each other as they care for their horses and the walls come down. It's hard telling how many lives have been saved with this program.

There are so many people willing to help if they just know someone is hurting. I follow a lady vet on twitter. Calls go out frequently for a missing vet who is in danger and it's remarkable how people pull together to locate them and get them help.

It's not enough, we still lose over 22 vets daily to suicide.

With our young people, where do they go? Who do they turn to? I wish there were some kind of service dog program for them. It wouldn't solve all the problems, but it might help.

I slept with a bottle of sleeping pills beside my bed for a long time. I've dealt with the suicide demons. Life does get better. I still live with chronic pain daily, but nothing is sweeter than the idea than the hope of a bright tomorrow regardless of how stormy today is.

This is one reason I visit with clerks, waiters and waitresses, and people in lines. You never know what kind of battle someone is fighting. Maybe they needed someone to tell them that purple scarf is gorgeous and looks pretty on them. Maybe they just need to know someone else realizes they are alive.

Lennon Faris said...

Someone once said (maybe it was here on this blog?) that the pain that others feel after something like this has happened, is the pain that the person felt, every day.

If there is one thing I could change in this world, it would be to end suffering. And not through death!



Claire Bobrow said...

I am filled with sorrow hearing this news. It is devastating to lose anyone suffering from mental health challenges, but particularly a young person. Consider another candle lit, Janet. My thoughts are with you, her family and friends, and everyone battling these demons.

BrendaLynn said...

So sorry for everyone’s loss. Suicide effects us all. My grandfather. My friend. It’s hard to conceive the level of pain involved for a person to feel there is no other way out but to end the suffering.
One of my sons is a paranoid schitzophrenic. He is homeless as he feels we are out to brainwash him via his dr. There is very little we can do until he is a threat to himself or others. Or until he breaks the law (please Lord, make him shoplift and get caught). I sit at his local WalMart every Wednesday in case he wants to come talk to me. So far he hasn’t, but maybe next week.
I’m so grateful that he lives in a time ( and country) where local authorities will take him to a dr instead of a prison. It’s a waiting game right now and we have upcoming winter on our side.

CynthiaMc said...

It breaks our hearts when one of our patients commits suicide.

One of my niece's best friends, a girl I had known since she was five, killed herself. Sometimes you can see it coming. None of us did. She came from a wonderful, tight-knit family who would have moved heaven and earth for her.

A friend of mine from high school, a beloved only child, killed himself. No one knows why.

It's a tragedy and they are missed. The devastation they leave behind lasts for years, sometimes forever.

My condolences.

K OCD said...

Oh my oh my, this hits me SO hard! This is SO sad. This resonates SO MUCH!

I remember the picture you posted of that rabbit in the cardboard box... this book will be published on 8th November, you said back then...

I feel bad for talking of myself now, but cannot hold myself back, cause... just because I have been in the same (or similar) boat.

I had to hide my OCD for ten years at school, I lost a job because of it. I was still at school when my parents asked me to move out from their house, because they were unable to deal with my illness, my symptoms. I don't blame them for that, but I do blame them for when they kicked me out AGAIN (after inviting me back!) at 31.

"You will have to move out by 31 October or live in a hotel," my mother said, and it was the day she became a stranger to me.
I don't know how I have survived.

This morning (UK-morning, when you were still asleep), I said to Fiancé: "You know, I actually consider myself a survivor. Because I have OCD, AND my parents told me their door is shut."

I have nobody. Except for Fiancé. He deserves a medal. He has saved me.
I have zero money, won't have a pension! Unless my novel becomes a miracle, cause I have wrapped all that shit of my overbearing father and his jealousy up in it.
I'm not religious, UNFORTUNATELY. If I was, I'd pray my novel will hit within the current mental health movement in the UK and make me lots of money, so I can do something and give back to Fiancé.

It is SO true, this girl has suffered that pain EVERY day. I know.
I feel almost guilty I am better now on the health front, enough to live and not just exist. Too bad, too bad she couldn't.

:( *Very emotional right now*

Megan V said...

"Suicide is such a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

Except the underlying cause of suicidal thoughts and ideations isn't always temporary.

And suicide isn't a solution, but it's an ending and a beginning. It is the end of a life and the beginning of so many questions.


Why? Why now? Did they think they were better off? Did they think I'd be better off? I'm not better off, am I? Damn it, how could they leave me here? Why didn't they just talk to me? To someone? I should have seen it coming...why didn't I see it coming? Is it my fault? Was I not enough? Or did they do this because of me? What am I going to do now?

And the spirals go on and on and on—

fuck.

Sorry. I'm so sorry.

I hope there's some comfort left for the loved ones and for you QOTKU.



Lennon Faris said...

K OCD I hope you continue to kick that guilt in the ass on its way out the door. We've all known (or know) people we worry over or said good-bye to, way too soon.

The fact that you are a survivor brings hope into this, and sometimes hope is all we've all got.

And I know it's not much, but you don't have NOBODY. We're all here. (And I'm using your chosen alias but I am sending the 'real' you a virtual bear hug). *HUGS*

Richelle Elberg said...

Heartbreaking and all the personal anecdotes here just bring home how widespread mental health issues are. Both of my sons have some 'issues.' A few years ago I feared my oldest would go this route. He sees a therapist now and is SO much better. My youngest, after 20 years with a bipolar diagnosis, is now said to be on the autism spectrum instead. There were many challenges raising them and they both still live at home with me (23 and 27 years old). I'm fine with that, though Dad (my ex) thinks I am coddling them and enabling their 'lack of maturity'. I think I'm making sure they're okay. And next week my youngest and I will go visit UofA in Tucson where they have a special program for kids who learn 'differently.' For the first time in years I have hope he might be able to succeed in a college environment--early days yet but... HOPE!

Stay strong all, you're all inspiring and I'm so glad to have found this forum. My heart goes out to you Janet.

Steve Stubbs said...

JR: "I wish there was something we could do."

If you believe in God, you can pray for the repose of her soul.

A trap that people fall into when someone commits suicide is to take personal responsibility for the death. You are sbsolitely NOT responsible, and one thing you can do for yourself is refuse to lay that burden on yourself.

It is impossible for any of us to be responsible for someone else's suicide.

It may be relevant that certain age groups are at elevated risk. Teenagers are statistically more likely to commit suicide than adults who have not yet arrived at old age.

There are also several other risk factors, but since I did not know this person it would be Not OK for me to list them.

If it matters, I never met Margaux Hemingway, but her death at 43 still bugs me. The ME ruled it a suicide, byt it does not fit the profile. I think she was having fun with drugs and OD'ed accidentally. Still, it bugs me.

Finally, 60 Minutes aured a segmnent tonight on John Green, who may interest some people beacuse he dominates the bestseller list in the YA category. The segment, which is well worth watching, should be on the series' web site in a day or two.

K OCD said...

It's 2:38h UK-time, and I just woke up, dreaming about this post.

Lennon, thank you SO MUCH (I also read what you had to say in a different place... it was very nice!).

Richelle, PLEASE, you are doing the RIGHT thing with your boys! PLEASE, it does NOT matter that they are 23 and 27 - if they have issues, it's good you're making sure they're OK!
PLEASE don't listen to what your Ex says, this so much reminds me of my own experiences! Unless your sons tell you they wish to move out, PLEASE keep doing what you are and support them! That is "Mum"!

I don't regard or really use "Mum" and "Dad" anymore - I use "mother" and "father" if I have to talk about 'those people'.

I really hope your sons are and will do OK!!

Michael Seese said...

Losing a kid sucks. Period.

Richelle Elberg said...

Thanks K OCD. I know I'm doing the right thing. And we three have grown closer over the past few years, all here together again. The oldest was on his own for a few years and the youngest was with dad and they both were awful to each other when they were younger. Now we're all friends, not just Mom and brothers that hate each other. It's good. It shouldn't last forever but it's just fine for them to be here now--in fact it's great!

Richelle Elberg said...

p.s. I hope this doesn't seem disrespectful to the topic of discussion but I have to share--I spent much of the weekend reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Brilliant. I wanted to research titles considered 'literary murder mysteries' and discovered this. Now I've downloaded the preview of the 2nd in the trilogy and have realized it may be another week or two before I return to my own work, given the length of the books and the day job...but studying brilliant writers is part of the work so no apologies here.

Richelle Elberg said...

BrendaLynn--I'm so sorry about what you're going through with your son. It must be so painful and I hope deeply that you're able to bring him back home and to the care he needs.

BrendaLynn said...

Thanks Richelle. Maybe he’ll be there on Wednesday. This is such a horrible illness.
I’ll be checking out that book, thanks for that too.

NLiu said...

So hideous and tragic. I have no words.

K OCD said...

BrendaLynn, I so much hope he'll be there on Wednesday!

Donnaeve said...

How horrible. I feel for this family, and for the young woman and am sad she will not realize all that she had before her, and this from Julie Weathers is spot on:

"Suicide is such a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

I have known three people who committed suicide in my lifetime. I hope to never know another.

(Also, October is OCD Awareness month here in the States. K OCD I don't know how you'd feel about this, but maybe you could make some money by speaking, or writing pieces to submit to mags there in the UK. . .? That might be an opportunity - of course I don't know what your OCD is, so this might not be feasible for you - just a thought. It sounds like you're in a better place - literally- so keep going, keep writing, no matter what)

As I write this, I'm thinking of my brother who appears to be heading down a slippery slope toward being delusional. I can't write about it, but he visited me yesterday, and both my mom and my husband are worried about him. I wish he lived closer. It was pretty scary listening to him yesterday. I will be reaching out to my nephew today to talk to him about his dad.

K OCD said...

Donnaeve, Thank you!
These are the kind of things I'm trying to do. Currently with my novel, and hopefully, hopefully, it'll lead to something really good.

The radio station inviting me to talk (I mentioned this a few days ago here on the blog), are maybe an indication that things may work out.

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Jennifer Mugrage said...

oh that is so tragic.