This weekend I got one-on-one time with my 11yr old daughter. It doesn’t happen often, so I relish the time when we do get it. Saturday afternoon we were out and about, windows down, jamming to some pop song that I only know half the words to, but pretend to know them all, because I’m a hip cool mom. (Although I think by saying that takes away my coolness🙄).
Life is good. It’s at this moment that M suddenly says, “Mom, my friends & I heard that Kate Spade died by hanging herself with her own scarf, and that some famous chef did the same thing yesterday(Anthony Bourdain). Why?… They are rich and famous. Why would they want to die? Isn’t that a mean thing to do to their families they left behind?”…..
Silence on my end, while I collected my thoughts. Sure, I was planning for this topic to come up sooner than later, but not today, I was caught off guard. Yes, I myself had been reflecting on the deaths of these 2 successful individuals, particulary Bourdain. I was (still am) a huge fan; followed him on social media read his book, and watched his TV shows. I felt a connection to him, perhaps because he too, was an addict. That automatically puts us in a club together, that only club members understand. That being the demon (addiction) holding you hostage, creating despair and anguish, and wanting you dead.
It had been my personal experience with the demon that M&M would be better off if their mom wasnt around. At the time, I struggled to find a reason to live. I didnt feel worthy enough, I hated myself, the shame was greater than love (in my mind), and death seemed to be the only answer. The addiction was feeding my depression. I was utterly hopeless at one point…
Did I want to get this brutally honest with my 11 year old?? She has had to deal with adult situations since a young age and fortunately has been actively seeing a therapist who we have come to admire and respect whole heartedly. She has taught M life skills. Along with that, my alcoholism and recovery is not a taboo topic, and I welcome open and honest conversation. But on this day, the task of talking about suicide, and mental health seemed daunting and scary.
I decided to go for it, especially since she brought it up. We talked about what depression is. We talked about how all the money, success, friends, and family someone has, does not equal happiness and self love, that it must come from within. I stressed that depression is an illness, a disease, and that unfortunately our society still considers it taboo, and there is a definite stigma attached to it. Too often an individual suffering from depression is told to “think positive” or “buck up, things will get better”… If only it was that easy…..
I explained that there is no shame in asking for help. That just because a friend ‘appears’ happy go lucky, does not necessarily mean that they aren’t hurting or suffering inside. Being aware and being kind is key.
It was at this point I told her my story…… that it was only a few years ago that her mom felt she and her brother would be better off if I was dead…. M was silent….
She looked at me, reached for hand and said, “thank you mommy for telling me, and I’m glad you are here”.
From the mouths of babes….
M and I continued to chat about how I got healthier and that I no longer have these horrible sad thoughts. We also talked about what to do if and when she gets sad, hurtful, thoughts about herself or if she is concerned about a friend..cuz truth of the matter is that in today’s society, preteen and teen depression and suicide is tragically high…
I dont know if our talk will make a difference, I hope and pray it does. I am defintely not nieve to think that this one talk will prevent harm, sadness, or self hatred from my child. What I do know is that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is vital!
To let my daughter, and anyone else who may be struggling that it is ok to ask for help, and that there is absolutely no shame! I am a lucky one, I got the help I so desperately needed because a few individuals who I love dearly didnt give up on me, when I had so clearly given up on myself. They saw that I was in turmoil and that I couldn’t help myself. And for that I am entirely grateful. Today I am gratefully, joyously, blessed. I share my story, my message of hope.
Unfortunately for the 2 celebrities who took their lives this past week, their demons won. I hope and pray that they are now at peace. If there is anything to take away from their tragedies, it is that mental illness does not discriminate! As a society there needs to be more dialogue, awareness, and education. Most importantly, there needs to be no shame in asking for help!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline https://g.co/kgs/YhdX5S