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The other side of the coin

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To everyone grieving, I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling right now, but I hope I can give a little bit of insight from the other side and help give a little bit of closure.

first, let me start by telling you I’ve been fighting depression and suicidal ideation for ten years now. It’s been ten straight years of waking up every day wishing I was gone, that I’d never been born, or that I had stopped breathing while I was asleep. There are good days, and there are bad days, but it’s always there, and every day is a struggle to get past that. Some days, it’s bearable and I feel almost normal. Some days, this pit in my stomach feels immense and drags everything in me into an endless chasm and it’s all I can do not to collapse in a heap and just stop. And sometimes, I do that anyway. This is a daily struggle, a daily occurrence, and most days, it’s all I can do to get through the day, to function, to make all my ends meet, and when I get home, when I’m by myself, it feels like I’ve got nothing left to give, and there’s nothing left of me for me.

Let me also preface this with the acknowledgment that by almost every objective standard, I am doing well and succeeding.  I’m an attorney well respected by my colleagues, and well liked by the various partners I work with. My parents love me deeply and my sister is my best friend in the world, who would drop everything if I so much as asked, fly across the country just to be with me if she felt I needed it. I have many friends who would not hesitate to help me in any way they can, money, time, moral or physical support. I am financially secure, without debt, and physically healthy. Despite all of this, I still go to bed and wake up every day wishing the day I was born never happened, wishing I could disappear, or that I could die in my sleep, without it being my fault, so I can stop without the guilt of being the cause of pain to my family. That is the depression I fight with daily, struggle with daily, labor under daily.

i say this not to increase your grief, but to give you a little context of what your loved one was likely going through before they chose to stop. I guarantee you that no one who committed suicide suddenly decided they wished to stop. The decision may have been a spur of the moment choice coupled with the presence of opportunity, but the depression, the thought of ending it, the allure of having everything stop, that’s been there for a long time. Depression is a slow rot that eats at you, steals your strength, your resolve, your reserves, daily. It takes and never gives back anything other than a hollow despair that never gets filled.

Suicide is one endpoint for us that often looks like the only endpoint. But to get to that point, it’s not just when the depression has taken everything we have and there’s nothing left to give. It’s when we’re already so far past that point that we can’t even recognize life anymore, and even then, it only takes us in a moment of weakness, when life presents us with the means, the mode, and the opportunity. It’s only then that, despite long since having had nothing left to give, our last strings snap and an impulsive decision is made.

but do you know what that last string is? It is you, the ones who love us, the ones we know love us, and who we’d gladly go through hell to protect from pain. I’ve seen a lot of people on these forums ask why their loved ones didn’t love them enough to want to spare them the pain they are now experiencing because of the loss. Didn’t your loved one love you? I can tell you, without even a little bit of doubt, the unquestionable answer to those questions is yes, we loved you, we would do anything tonspare you this pain, we wish more than almost anything that you didn’t have to feel this pain. That exact love we feel, that’s what’s been keeping us here even when we feel there’s nothing left of us, there’s nothing left to give, when the only thing we can focus on is how far we are from that endpoint, you are the strings that keep us tethered.

i don’t have the right words to explain this, and I’m hoping raw emotion can make up what my inartful words cannot. The love I feel for my loved ones, that keeps me holding on desperately, even when I’m so far past my breaking point I can’t understand why my body hasn’t broken itself, I hold on. I’ve been holding on. For ten years. And if someday, the depression hits me hard in a moment of weakness, and the means presents itself to me, I may break entirely and take the easy way out, and choose to be selfish. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my family, that they didn’t mean enough to me, that their painmeant nothing to me. Quite the opposite, they are precisely what gave me the fortitude to hold on as long as I did. It’s not that in one momen when I make the selfish decisiont, the depression I felt was greater than my love. Rather, I was a twig propping up a dam against a flood. At some point, the twig will break and the flood takes its natural course.

what I’m trying to say is that you are the reasons your loved ones struggled on for as long as they did, even after they were stampeded under depression, you kept them alive and fighting. You kept them clinging on desperately day by day, hour by hour, because the thought of your pain, your loss, your suffering hurt us so much we’d keep resisting what felt irresistible, we’d keep pushing against what feels unrelenting, we’d keep clawing away st what feels indomitable. You kept us going.

It breaks my heart to see the vast chasm of communicationbetween those who’ve left, and those left behind. It’s not that they didn’t love you enough to stay alive. It’s quite the opposite. They kept fighting to stay alive because they loved you so much. For each person who committed suicide, it’s very likely that they’ve been suffering for much, much longer than you’d ever suspect. They hung on because of you, because they loved you, because they hoped against hope that they could spare you the pain you feel now.

I won’t lie. Suicide is a selfish choice. It’s a moment of weakness and selfishness after a long, drawn out, exhausting battle against our selfish impulse, when we give in to the weak voice inside that says “maybe it’s okay to stop fighting now?” But every moment before that moment of selfishness, those are moments of love.

To everyone who is grieving, please know you were loved, so much more than we thought was possible, to empower us to bear so much more than we ever thought imaginable. 

I cannot truly speak for the departed, but I know that if I one day I were to go, I’d want my sister, my mother, my father, I’d want them to know that I chose to be selfish, and they have every right to resent me for that choice. But for every moment before that, I loved them, and I loved them so deeply that every moment I fought against what feels impossible, I struggled against what felt insurmountable, I gritted my teeth against what felt like the weight of the universe crushing my heart, my guts, my very being. I loved them so much I kept struggling even when it hurt just to open my eyes in the morning. I loved them, so very much.


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Dear JYT,

I lost my partner to suicide in May, and not a moment goes by where I wonder what was going on inside his mind and the feelings he had felt to take his own life and leave behind the people who loved him so dearly. Whilst I understand he was suffering from depression and whilst I understand the reasons behind it, I don't understand why he couldn't get professional help for it.. Infact I struggle to understand it.....why was there not a way to fix his thoughts and emotions to make him feel happy inside? Why was his loved ones not enough to give him a purpose to carry on? Why couldn't he find a way to love life?

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to wake up with those thoughts everyday and the struggle of coping with those feelings daily. Have you had professional help for the way you feel, and if so has it not helped? Surely, there must be a way to beat the depression, the darkness and struggle that you feel inside? Please find the strength to beat this, I know you can do this, reach out for help if you need too. You.Are.Not.Alone.

Please don't leave your loved ones behind, I can tell you right now that no word will ever describe the pain and the hole left inside your heart when someone that you love takes their own life. No parent deserves to go through having to bury their child. My partner had a loving family, sister, parents that loved him dearly, a nephew and it has broken their family apart. You will never be the same person you were when a loved one takes their life, it changes you ultimately. When I met my partner, I was a happy and bubbly person, sure I had mild depression too at times, (its life) but after he passed my personality as a whole changed.

You even end up with a split personality. One to the world: showing that you're fine and coping and the other: when you're alone and break down every evening crying with no motivation for life, isolated and alone believing that everything in life is unfair and unjust. (That is who I am now). This is how I feel, so I can't even imagine the pain his mother must be going through, but I am sure it is a million times worse. 

I can tell you right now that it even leaves us left ones behind feeling suicidal at times. Since my partner passed, I feel like I am drowning in depression, and guilt. I feel like I must surely be experiencing what he was going through in those last moments he was on this earth and sometimes the pain is so unbearable that I want to end it all to be with him...but I have my mother and sister, nephews and nieces to think about and I know the impact of the damage caused if I ever chose such a decision, so I try to find a way to stay strong. (Like you I guess, the way you are choosing to stay strong everyday for your loved ones).

Suicide is so traumatic especially if it occurs without warning so it doesn't prepare loved ones left behind on how to cope with the shock or the grief (anger, blame, hurt, broken, questions after questions)...the sudden death is such a shock to the system, it can take us months to comprehend what has happened and to fully accept just the fact alone that that person has gone and truly left us.

We don't get a chance to hear their voice one last time, or to tell them how much we love them or to say our goodbyes even, we don't get a chance to rewind time and wonder if we could have changed anything to protect them or to have prevented the outcome....we are however left with huge regrets though of 'what ifs' and the blame game is strong. You end up doubting your personality and wonder somehow if you contributed to ruining their life, or if you are to blame for the decision they chose. Sometimes you even question if you knew them at all, and then the pain of realizing that they were in intense pain to do this makes things even harder. No one wants to know that their loved ones died with such pain in their heart. 

There will always be a part of us that blames ourselves for our loved ones taking their life as we will never fully get the answers we need. Thank you for your side of the story though. I do hope that if you ever want someone to talk too and get a moment of weakness that you'd please message me, talk to me or to someone at least who can help or guide you the best we can. Please stay strong. Life can be beautiful, it really can be and we will never know how beautiful it might be unless we hang around and give it a chance to show us its full beauty. 


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Dear JYT87,

What you write is heartbreaking and very touching. Just like others  cannot understand grief unless they’ve experienced it, the same thing goes for chronic depression. It is often an extremely difficult illness to treat, even with therapy and medication. In a sense, it is like chronic grief. A grief that never ends. I rarely think of people who have committed suicide as being selfish. I would only think that if their intention was to purposely “get back at someone” by making them feel guilty. That is not usually the case. More often, the person does not really want to die, but life for them has just become far too inwardly painful. We would not expect a person with an agonizing physical disease to keep fighting on. We would wish them peace from their suffering. That is why I do not regard suicide as selfish. Rather, I think that people who resist suicide after years and years of deep depression are very unselfish. I commend you for your courage and for continuing to live for others, instead of yourself. I hope you never give up, but instead please keep trying different medications and/or combinations of medications, the future will likely have new and better ones. Your life is extremely worthwhile, if not for yourself, than definitely  for your clients, family, and friends. One day you may just see the light and beauty in life again, just as you once surely did before. If you ever felt joy before, than you are capable of feeling it again. This I believe.

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Dear JYT87.

Thank you for this post. I'm sitting at my desk at work trying to hide my tears. Your words have really connected with me.

My brother, my only sibling, died by suicide on Feb 26th last year. As we approach the 12 month anniversary I'm still trying to figure out who I am without him. I've left my home and my job to be closer to my parents to support them. Trying to rebuild a career and a life and friendships seemed impossible but I'm making some progress.

I felt suicidal thoughts on a daily basis for the first 10 months after he died and that terrified me. I realize it was a symptom of the complicated grief and the episodes don't come as frequently now. I cannot imagine what ongoing, clinical depression must be like.

In the early months I was unable to sleep so I spent the hours alone in bed reading and trying to understand what my brother may have experienced and also trying to figure out what I was experiencing. I'd guess that you are an expert on all things related to depression and suicidal thoughts so I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. However  one of the most accessible books I read was Matt Haig's 'Reasons to Stay Alive'. When my mind was racing and unable to concentrate I could always flick through this short book. Take a look if you see it in a book store.

I hope you are doing ok right now. Please hang on. Not just for your family and friends; please hang on for yourself. Even in the dark places please allow a tiny chink of light in. If you haven't done so already please consider telling your sister how you feel. I bet she loves you with her whole heart. She is stronger than you think. You don't have to protect her from the darkness. I bet she would run into hell for you. Please give her a chance to shoulder this burden. It's not fair that you should carry it alone.

I would do anything for one last hug with my brother. One more trip together. One more walk with the dogs. One more meal in a nice restaurant. I loved my brother so much and I know he loved me too. He was my past, my present and my future. Thank you for giving me an insight it what he may have experienced.


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