Sometimes you can have information, but it doesn’t really sink in for a while. Or maybe you have some info here and get some more over here…and it takes a while for those two things to sift down from your head into your heart to line up next to each other and makes sense together. It’s not unlike Tetris; little puzzle pieces falling down and needing to be fit together.
It’s no secret that my mom died recently. September 21st if we’re keeping count. Which, of course, we are. Less well known (though not a secret) is the manner of her death. I didn’t have the tools to say on Facebook or on here, in a manner that didn’t seem gratuitous or sensationalizing in someway, that my mom took her own life.
Really, she died of an illness. Just as if she had had cancer and it killed her, so too did mental illness and depression cause my mom to die. I knew that as soon as we pieced together the circumstances of the days leading up to her death. As near as we can tell, she felt herself losing control and made a plan to seek help. I was confused for a while if she had made a plan to seek help or if she had made a plan to kill herself. Because those two plans look very similar in this scenario. There was very little food in the house, she gave away her dog, locked up the house and car, and made her way to a hospital in the next town about 30 miles away.
In October I went to see a counselor. He gave me a piece of information that was helpful. He said that most suicides don’t happen when the person is at the very bottom of their depression. Because when they are at the bottom of it, they don’t even have the energy to put it into action. What happens is they start to come out of the worst of it and things start to look up-just a little. That teeny ray of hope gives them just enough energy to take action, but not enough yet to overcome the depression. That’s why, as I said to him, people often think but she was doing so much better, what happened to change that?
But it took a while for me to process what that meant for me and her and us.
What it means for me is that she made a plan to get help. She checked into the hospital hoping for some relief for the sadness and symptoms of her illness. When she felt like she was going to get that, it gave her enough hope to let go. Unfortunately, she figured out a way to accomplish it even while in a mental facility.
We didn’t tell our son anything about how she died. It was hard enough to tell him that she was gone without having to find a way to explain to him about suicide and everything else that goes along with that. We just told him that she was sick and tired and sad and that her body got so full of being sick and tired and sad that it couldn’t take it anymore and she died from it. Which is true. and when he gets bigger and wants to know more we’ll tell him. But, we didn’t lie to him about what happened. We just left some things out for later.
I realized over winter break that I was holding my mom responsible for choosing to leave us. It surprised me that I thought that. Like I said, I knew that she had mental issues and also physical health issues that added to her depression. I thought I understood that she was depressed and sick and THAT is what killed her. But it took some deep careful thinking after I came to realize what I was thinking to get over-through-around the feeling that my mommy left me on purpose.
She did not.
She sought relief and a sliver of hope got the best of her. I know that now.