Wednesday, May 11, 2022

On "Trying To Make Sense"

 Ed from Riverbend Journal has become something of a fixture around here, for which I am grateful - not only for his comments but his eternal optimism (his job title, granted by myself, as "The Resident Optimist" is certainly not a high paying one but is much appreciated).   He is an excellent writer and if you do not already read him, I certainly commend him to your attention.

Thus it was with a growing sense of sadness that I read his most recent post, Trying To Make Sense.  He relates that a young woman, a cousin who had visited him and his family last year (I recall the visit as he wrote of it) had gone missing and then was found.  It was in fact a suicide.

I leave it to Ed to describe their thoughts and situations; their story is not mine to tell.  But it does make me reflect a bit on suicide in general.

I know depression in a way many others do not; for me the black clouds that cling to the mind and body are old acquaintances.  At one time - in my late teen age years - I was very much depressed, so much so that I professed an interest in "not going on".  In my case it was a cry for help, and it did change many things, including the relationship I had with TB the Elder (less so my mother).  It cycled through over the next few years as I went back and forth between colleges and relationships, never quite fitting in with where I was  at the time.

I know depression.  I know the grinding heaviness of day after day without anything ever seeming to get better or improve - and no hope that it will improve at all. I cannot speak for everyone that deals with this as it is not the sort of thing we readily compare notes about; I do know that from what I read, a lack of hope comes across as one of the defining characteristics of those that make the choice. A lack of hope and existence of pain seemingly so endless and consuming that something - anything - seems less of a risk.

Ed says it far more eloquently than I: "Her last stop had been at a 7/11 where she purchased something before driving to some pay for parking lot somewhere and ending her life.  I would be at that 7/11 waiting for her if I could, just to let her know it will get better."

Although I suspect that the bulk of my readers are not in the younger set, I would remiss in saying that my e-mail address is over there on the right.  I check it at least once a day.  And I bet if something was posted in the comments here, there would be more than an outpouring of support - I know my audience that well, at least.

  National Suicide Prevention Hotline



  1. Anonymous5:07 AM

    My condolences for the family and friends of the deceased. What is often a byproduct of suicide are the feelilngs of guilt by close by who thought they ignored 'warning signs' that may or may not have been noticed.

    Our next door neighbor's adult daughter committed suicide in the 90's. Their family had to deal with these thoughts - it was very hard on them. A family of six now became five.

    1. Anonymous, I am sure Ed and his family appreciate his thoughts. As you say, the survivors are the one who end up with the baggage of "what if' and "if only I had" that will haunt them, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

      I think the worst part - which is what Ed speaks to - is simply the fact that they will never know (this side of Heaven) what actually happened.

  2. It is so painful when a young one goes that way. I don't know how anyone of her family could cope with that. I understood it as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But the real problem is the depression. And if that isn't temporary, then all bets are off.

    My dad was prone to depression. It got really bad for a while after his best friend was killed in the line of duty. I remember the weirdness at home. Dad spent his time in his room with the shades drawn. It was always dark in there. That lasted for weeks... marose.

    1. STxAR - I cannot imagine either. But people do - they have to in order to go on, if even if a much changed fashion.

      I was shocked when in the early 2000's TB The Elder told me that he suffered from depression. I had no idea that he ever had - it is nothing that he ever revealed or ever exhibited classic symptoms of - although it quite likely explains why I have suffered from the same sort of thing.

  3. This whole ordeal has certainly caused me to reflect on my optimism as the "Resident Optimist." Whatever wiring in my brain makes me optimistic, is certainly what makes this even hard for me to understand. I've had low moments and I won't lie that thoughts of ending it have crossed my mind, but those times were only fleeting as in seconds long because I have always been able to understand that they were fleeting. For whatever reason, my cousin couldn't see past that fleeting depression.

    I thought about not writing anything but in the end, I just felt compelled to. Perhaps by doing so, it may save a life someday from someone undergoing similar thoughts. It can't change our situation and I'll probably never be able to understand why it occurred, but we aren't all wired the same and perhaps someone else can make sense of it and change their situation.

    That is my hope. Thank you for calling attention to the 1-800 number TB!

    1. Ed, first all (and as posted on your blog as well), my condolences. This is truly something no family should have to face.

      A counter thought, if I might: The things that wire you as an optimist are probably the same things that wire me - in a different way - as a pessimist. You have the gift of theorizing what can go right; I have the gift of theorizing what can go wrong. The reality, as you point out so well, is that as we mature we learn that there is a balance: most things are never bad forever even as they are never good forever (I say most things: there is the reality that people now live for years in very bad situations. It is more of a guideline than a rule, I suppose). But that does only come with maturity, or at least if not maturity than with relationships with those that have the opposite gene (I have known optimists that were completely wiped out by a bad occurrence where a pessimist simply went "No no, that was expected. We will carry on regardless). If one has neither the maturity of experience nor the input of others, it can become very dark indeed.

      And that, at least for me, is why I am glad you wrote about it. The reality is it happens too often and in too many places and it is something we never really talk about. And if people feel like they cannot ask questions or talk about it, then they will choose to do other things.

      So there are now two places this phone number appeared today. Hopefully we have at least doubled the coverage by doing so.

  4. Anonymous7:09 AM

    The youngest of my wife’s 8 siblings took his life in early 2Ks. The youngest! In his mid twenties. He left a young daughter who has grown up to pursue a path similar to his, substance abuse. The daughter came to live with us, in a different state, for a while when she was 20ish years old. We attended therapy sessions with her of the narcotics anonymous type. She seemed to take to the straight lifestyle for a bit but she left suddenly and rejoined her old friends back in the old hometown. Those small town and city underground enclaves have a way of drawing their members back into the fold. She sent a letter apologizing to us and even called a couple times but now has fallen of our radar. I pray for her safety and I pray for you TB and all the lives you’re touching with your words and the link.

    Be at peace and find the Salvation that passes our human understanding.


    1. FranknBean - I am sorry. I cannot imagine that the pain of that ever goes away, even with the years. We have had a similar experience to yours in terms of a family member with substance abuse problems - although in our case, it had a much happier ending in that she finally found Narcotics Anonymous and has been clean for many years now, by the grace of God and her own efforts. As you say, at some point all we can do is pray.

      I often find it challenging to rest in the peace that passes all understanding, even as I know it is real.

  5. I've been there myself; the depression. It lasted YEARS. In retrospect I was actually in that condition YEARS longer than I realized. Yes, suicide did cross my mind. I never attempted, but the thought was there. The only thing that kept me going was a verbal answer to a prayer late in the night. That's right; a verbal answer... from God... The end of His statement was "I have work for you to do." That kept me going, and I finally found my way out. The clouds have visited again from time to time, but knowing there would be an end to it kept me going until it indeed ended.

    The hardest thing to deal with was telling people who LOVED me how I was feeling and being told "Why do you feel this way. You have SO MUCH GOING FOR YOU!" For the reference of other "helpers," that is about the WORST thing to say to someone dealing with depression. If the depressed person KNEW why, he'd DO something about it!

    For those dealing with depression, know that it will end eventually. Everyone's roadmap out of the damp, lichen-covered walls of that prison is different, but I can't stress calling God into play enough!

    1. Pete - Thanks for sharing your story. I do not think we can share such stories enough. People often feel very isolated by this thinking, that they cannot express themselves without (as you so poignantly point out) the "helpers" that can only see the outer, not the inner (although often they mean it in the very best way).

      I, for one, am grateful that God spoke to you that night as I have benefitted greatly from your wisdom. And He speaks in different ways to different people (which is why I try to refrain from telling people how God will speak to them, only that he will).

      One of things that I suspect Satan tries to do is convince people that things will never get better (for him, they never will at this point). But our lives are not irrevocably cast in one mode or another. The depression will lift, eventually - at least for me, one of the things I have learned (painfully, but I have learned it) is simply to outlast it. It can be teeth gritting bitter at times, but I know enough now to know it is not forever.


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