Friday, February 18, 2011
I heard this term on Oprah today. She did a show focusing on a young man who at age 7 tried to kill his mother with a kitchen knife. The link to Oprah's website is posted below:
It was an interesting show and it did give hope to the situation of Mental Illness. I pretty much have formed the opinion that there is no cure, only treatment for this type of illness. But this kid, now 10, does have a hopeful outlook now, after his parents pursued the right type of treatment and the boy learned to control his thoughts and actions. Oprah also had a message from a boy who was on her show 11 years ago and has gone on to control his bi-polar issues and flourish in life.
I so wish we had been able to get to that point with Andrew. He wasn't trying to kill anyone, but he was always afraid someone was out to get him. Since he was already an adult, and I couldn't make him do anything, treatment-wise. He got to make his own choices, and the choice he made was to end it all. There was guilt, shame, denial and fear holding him back. I don't think he felt he had permission, if you will, from both myself and his father, to admit he had a true mental illness and deal with it head on. It was something to hide, to deny. But he could feel it, that sensitivity, when he got a weird look from someone. He always felt weird going out in public to a store or the bank, like everyone was looking at him strangely. I think it was part real, part imagined, but he was extremely sensitive about it.
My former English teacher, Isaac, said she got a vision of Andrew saying he "did it for me," when he committed suicide. She said he told her that he knew his mental illness was only going to get worse, and he did it for me.
That helps, I guess, to know that Andrew loved me and didn't want to hurt me and more. I was really, really hurting for him. I wanted to solve his pain. But it is also so very sad. The term, "Emotional Sensitivity" came up on Oprah, and describes how a person can take on all the negative energy in their environment and how it affects them more than perhaps others in the situation. Like a typical "Black Sheep" of the family, the emotionally sensitive one takes on all the family's negative energy and acts out or reacts to it. I am sure Andrew did that. He tried to help all of us. We were having a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics going on, and Andrew only wanted to be the good son and help his parents and his sisters overcome our obstacles. He took on a lot of weight and carried us all on his shoulders. It broke him up.
As I moved on in life, I like to thing I eased the burden of my sadness and turned my life toward a more positive direction. I think my girls were on the right track, also. But Andrew's dad was not. I couldn't help him. Andrew couldn't help him. Now the girls are dealing with their inability to help their dad, but that is another chapter.
I am just sad because we weren't a strong enough family to be able to really pull it together for Andrew. We had to lose him in the process. I wish we had been able to save him.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Yesterday I really just wanted to VENT! I did, a little bit, with my wonderful pal Julie. I went and kidnapped her and took her along to run some errands. I didn’t need the help as much as the company, but I wanted to let her feel useful, so I said I needed the help. We went down to City Hall and filled out a reservation for the local park’s barbecue area so we can host a memorial for another friend who committed suicide last week.
Yes! Yes, I know! I am in the middle of it again! A friend has died and my closest girlfriends are reeling in grief and shock and despair. A couple of them, closest to the situation, are having to immediately deal with our friends’ possession and their disposal…what an awful, emotional and exasperating process. Who ever wants to toss out their closest friends possessions and clear out the house, leaving barely a trace of their existence? Our suicidal friend, whom I shall refer to as “C”, had just one brother with whom she was not real close and he was now tasked with cleaning out her house and disposing of her things. My two friends were there, JW up from Santa Barbara and J with her husband, and C’s ex-husband, packing things into boxes for Goodwill or the dump, respectively, alongside the brother and sister-in-law. The men really were unaware of any practical or emotional attachments to any of the items in the house. The sister-in-law just didn’t know C well enough. By contrast, J knew just who would want the massage table, so she had to call her and see if she could pick it up. J had to break the news to this person, who hadn’t heard the news of C’s death yet. She also knew who could use C’s esthetician’s tools. Then a neighbor stopped by, demanding to know what was going on and where C was...J had to inform her of the situation. J was going to need lots and lots of support to get through this...she was grieving as she was working away. She had also just lost her brother to suicide a few short months ago. This was too much! But she and I understood it as perhaps others could not yet.
Mostly, it is so unnecessary. Our friend committed suicide in a fit of despair. She was an alcoholic. She had made some bad choices in life during the past 5 years and was depressed about it. She was lonely and unhappy. She was childless, divorced and recovering from a bad dating relationship. She was on probation and in anger-management classes, and she was drinking again. She was, for all practical purposes, a mess. Yet, all her friends are rallying now to support each other. We loved her! If she only could have accepted that we loved her and didn’t judge her too harshly.
We are sharing the good things about our friend and planning a memorial gathering in her honor. We are collecting pictures and exchanging laughs about our memories of C.
Amidst it all, people are checking in with me to see how I am doing. It is concern for me due to my having lost my son to suicide. Luckily, I now feel somewhat programmed to deal with this stuff. I am writing my girlfriend’s obituary. I am setting up the memorial. I am sharing on Facebook and getting all the friends to do the same. We are posting photos and friending more people. We are all talking, reminiscing and reacquainting ourselves with one another. It is having a positive effect. I am showing my friends how I grieve, which is to share and talk and laugh and cry and even to express our guilt and anger, and they are following along beautifully. I think we will survive yet another tragedy. But damn it, we are going to miss our friend!