J: “You are Better Off Without Me”

[The Scariest Days of My Life]

My wife had been feeling down for a while – likely longer than I can remember.  She took a sabbatical from work, tried travelling the world, but she returned not feeling any better than when she left.  She had decided she would talk to her doctor, which eventually resulted in the prescription of anti-depressants.  Then it happens for the first time.

I am at work, and my phone is ringing – it’s her. She doesn’t often call me, especially during working hours.  I pick up and she sounds like she is in a panic, but I can barely understand the words in her hysteria.  I believe I hear the words “the knives are attacking me”.  I drop everything and head home.  She is there, in the kitchen, knife in hand, cutting herself.  I promptly wrestled the knife from her trying to understand what is going on.  She is hysterical, crying and screaming at me to just let her do it, “You are better off without me.”  Little did I know on that day that those words would continue to haunt me.  This was her first experience with anti-depressants, and before we knew she was bi-polar.  This happened multiple times, which led to hospitalization for her own safety.

Hospitalization has happened numerous times over the years – sometimes us going together, other times her being rushed by an ambulance and me receiving a call from a police officer and rushing home from wherever I was.  What can I do to help her?  I felt helpless.

Have you ever read someone’s suicide note?  How about more than one from the same person?  Or one that was typed up versus hand written showing a plan that I was not able to stop before it happened?  Hopefully you will never have to.  I debated if I should just rip them up, but my logical side told me to read them – maybe, just maybe there would be something contained within it that may allow me to help her in the future. That is all I want to do, help her.

There was a day where I was lying in bed – this was probably the scariest day of my life – as apparently my wife was slowly taking pill after pill in the kitchen (no advance signs at all).  If I had gotten out of bed earlier, I could have stopped it sooner.  By the time I got to her it was almost too late, and in her partially conscious state, words were said once again that haunt me – “You are better off if you just let me do it”.  I rushed her to the hospital, and as the pills continued to digest and work its way through her system, I saw her fall into an incapacitated state.  Seeing someone you love in such a debilitated state is incredibly scary – she would try to speak, and only a word or two would come out and make no sense.  She would just point at things and make some noises.  I don’t even think she realized I was there or who I was for this period of time.

I didn’t let any of her friends or family see her that way – I have always tried to protect them, shelter them, not let them be haunted by the images and feelings.  I have always been a rock – could others really deal with these emotions if they could almost (or temporarily) break me?  Perhaps I am wrong?  Perhaps this is why the stigma continues?  How am I supposed to make the right decision and choose if one should have to (or get to) see their daughter, sister, friend at points in time like this?

I have never been an emotional person, and I always push the boundaries on what I think I am able to do.  I remember walking home from the hospital, having missed a call from my sister thinking I could just return the call, and let her know what happened.  I called her up and could barely speak – she could hear the anguish and emotion in the few words that I could get out of my mouth.  When I got home, I just sat there on my couch, alone in my thoughts and feelings – I had broken.

HOW CAN I HELP??? How can I get friends? Family? Doctors? How can anyone help? She pushes people away, and then other days wants them there – it is very confusing and complicated.  It is tough to understand, to know what to say, when to say, or when just to be quiet.  After a number of years, I still often feel like a first grader when it comes to understanding. 

I do understand mental health is a sickness, and there is not a simple cure or fix for it, but I want to do everything in my power to ensure that she does not let her dark thoughts take over. 

What if I stayed in bed for 10 more minutes?  What if I did not run home from the office that day?  What if those strangers did not find her and sit with her, and manage to make contact?  Would she still have survived?  What would I do without her?  The scarier question if it ever does end – What if I could have changed a few small things to stop her so we could continue our lives together?

I can tell you that a suicide note provides no solace, and I have read a couple now.

How do I help…?  How can family and friends help…? 

As some tears run down my face while I recall these events, I know one thing.  I will never give up…and I hope beyond anything else in the world, that she doesn’t either.

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