Three weeks ago, I was notified that a friend of mine had overdosed on a combination of pain killers and antidepressants. I was told that she was on life-support at the hospital and was brain-dead and not expected to make it.
I have to admit that I was, for a moment, envious. How many times have I wished that for myself? Simply to end the misery that is my life? I want desperately to believe in heaven and I think what better things might await me there. I could see my brother and sister and father again, there would be cotton candy and Junior Mints in excess, I wouldn’t gain weight and I could listen to any music I want. And no house cleaning! It just seems like such an easy solution, doesn’t it?
When I go to ECT, there is a multiple choice test I have to take to get something called a “Beck Score”. The score helps determine my mental “well-being”, which in turn helps determine how often I have to be voluntarily electrocuted. I always sort of smile when I answer these questions: do I feel less attractive? do I have more or less energy than usual? do I feel productive? do I get along with others? But one of the final questions on the test is in regards to suicide. I have to choose the option that best suits my mood at that particular time:
a) I think about committing suicide all the time.
b) I think about suicide all the time, but would never carry it out.
c) I rarely think about committing suicide.
d) I would never consider suicide.
Sadly, I find myself hovering pretty close to option “b” on most days. Yes, I think about suicide all the time. All. The. Time. But because I am a coward and also because I have a conscience, I could never actually carry it out. What if I didn’t do it right? What if I didn’t complete the act and the “life” I was left with was even more horrible than it is now? And then I think about my precious children. I look at my three kids and wonder who would do my daughter’s hair for prom, who would iron my son’s shirts and teach him stripes and plaids don’t mix, who would drive them to piano lessons and gymnastics? Who would tell them how to respond to the class bully, or how to make the family traditional holiday cookies? But most of all, who would love them like I do?
It’s not that I think my kids would miss me that much. We are in that difficult part of our relationships during which, as my husband and I have been separated for a year, my children have found the “preferred parent”. Their dad is simply cooler. He’s more playful and agreeing. He is the coddler, I’m the enforcer. And there are definitely times when I feel like they could do without me. Like when my daughter asks, “When is it Daddy’s night to be with us?”, a question I answer every night of the week. I don’t believe that my kids would be devastated to be without me. At least, not right now.
But I think they would miss me later. I want to believe that they would miss me later. I need to believe that they would miss me later.
Sandi has left behind three children, pretty close in age to mine. Did she have them in her thoughts just before she opened that last prescription bottle? Did she consider the pros and cons of having children grow up without a mother? Was her esteem so low that she really believed they’d be better off without her? Or was her pain just so deep that she couldn’t bear another moment on this earth? Did she consider the consequences and decide that this was her only option? Did she hurt so badly that she simply couldn’t go another day?
I used to think that suicide was a coward’s way out. That it was for selfish people. Who doesn’t think about what’s being left behind when a suicide is committed? Who doesn’t wonder, “who will find my body? will it be my 7-year old son? do I leave a note, or keep them guessing?” Do the people who go through with it really put that much thought into it to begin with? Or is it a spontaneous response to a really bad day? Is it one of those things where they don’t really want to carry it out all the way through, but the attention of an “attempt” would be a good way to test whether your loved ones really are feeling the love? Is it a call for help? Do people attempt suicide hoping that the act is never actually fully carried out? Or are they really out to do themselves in? And since suicide is considered a sin, do suicide victims get to go to heaven? Is it really better on “the other side”? Are there really unlimited supplies of Junior Mints? Will we really see our previously lost loved ones again?
Or, do people who commit suicide end up in hell? And if they do, is hell worse than their lives here on earth? Or might life here be so awful that hell looks pretty good?
Sadly, we can’t exactly ask a suicide victim.
I want to believe that Sandi accidentally took all of that medication. That she was hoping the pills would temporarily fix what was hurting. That she could sleep through the day and wake up the next feeling refreshed. I don’t want to believe that “the next day” was not in her plans.
For now, her children are being told that their mom died of respiratory failure. But if I know the truth, then dozens out there also likely know the truth. And eventually, her children will know, as well.
Wherever you are, Sandi, I hope you’re happier there than you were here. I miss you. I know your children miss you. And I look forward to seeing you again in the future. Just hopefully not in the near future, if I can help it.