Trigger warning for suicidal thoughts.
It was a simple enough plan. It made perfect sense at the time, June to December 2011.
My son would turn 18 on August 20, 2014. At that time, his biological father would have no claim to him legally in matters of custody or upbringing. He would be out of high school and likely living with his “dad”, aka former step-father by then, given his love for the mountains and that region of the state.
That meant I could plan on killing myself after August 21, 2014. Or thereabouts. No later than Labor Day.
I can write this out now, not even three weeks out from the date I thought I would be gone, knowing that I will be here (God, goddess, Fate or Spaghetti Monster willing). Not even three years ago, it was a clear plan in my head.
Before I got to that point, things had been going pretty well. Or so I let myself believe. After my divorce in 2007, I had met someone and gotten engaged, found my dream job and was “going in the right direction”. Yes, I was still depressed and still going through the motions of the bulimia binge-purge dance, but nothing too hard to handle. The ugly divorce, losing where we lived and so much of more would still be there, moving further and further into the past. I thought I had gotten along quite nicely without any help, thank you very much.
Then, the fiancé left me for his ex when she decided the grass wasn’t greener on the other side of the bed . The perfect job turned into a nightmare that still shakes my professional confidence to this day. My occasional binge-purge periods turned into daily rituals with ulcers,indigestion and throat bleeding to show for it.
The depression was the worst though. I could not get through a day without crying. I didn’t think I would stop crying at times. It was the worst at work. My boss already made it clear she did not like me and hadn’t wanted to hire me (another story for another day), so I didn’t really give a damn if I broke down there or not. Better to break down in front of someone who I no longer gave a damn about, professionally or otherwise, than at home in front of my son.
Yes, through this all, I was still being the primary caregiver to my child. I did my best to be a good parent during that time, but looking back I know I was lacking. How could I not have been? Still at night I wonder if my deep dive into the darkness kept me from seeing even the earliest signs of his mental health issues, that I drove him to the depression that caused him to make an attempt on his life.
I did what I could to keep things together at home, while looking for a new job. The latest-ex was still contacting me, going on about how he would have married me if the better option hadn’t become available again. In his mind we were “friends” and he could say such things. I was powerless to tell my job to back the hell off, I was doing what I was told to do by them, and too heartbroken to ruin any “chance” I had by asking the ex to stop calling me.
The crying jags got worse, plus I was now sleeping days away and cutting off contact with people, offline and online. I ignored messages from friends, had my phone off more often than on and set all my social media to “private”. This time is when I started to think that my child deserved a better parent, but my options were limited. I wasn’t getting better, so what else could I do? The stepfather he adored had no legal ties to him so if I were to die, he would go back to the biological father who ignored him for ten years. My family could intervene, but that was also precarious, given their opinions on my decision to even have him from the beginning.
One day I decided, if I could just get through the next few years, it wouldn’t matter what state I would be in, now or by then. I could plan everything out so that the process would be “easy”. He would inherit my life insurance through work plus my retirement accounts; I had learned over the years that our plan did pay out for suicide. I would get rid of as many of my belongings as possible so he wouldn’t have to go through cleaning or dismantling a living space. I could even start payments on a cremation plan to offset the costs when the time came.
I would set everything up for him to have a better life, without me. Starting over without having a mentally ill mother to worry about.
Yes, it made sense at the time to plan my death, by suicide way in advance. I was determined that I was no longer going to be here. I didn’t want to hurt anymore, I didn’t want any more pain. I couldn’t keep living like I was, literally making myself sick. Nothing else had killed me so far, so if I was still here when he came of age, I would finish the job. I had no plan to get to 38 years old or beyond.
Then it got worse still. My lowest point, I said to myself things would work out, he would be OK, I would go on my 35th birthday. This was the December when I was 34; my birthday is in March.
So, what happened?
I really don’t know what it was, but one day at the hell-job, I decided to just see if anyone would be willing to help me. Not able, medically or whatever. Just willing. Because, honestly, who the hell would actually care? I called my Employee Assistance Program, who got me in touch with a psychiatrist and a therapist, which is where I have been ever since. That call that day literally saved my life, then and up to today.
I got into therapy and have kept that up as I can with the schedule I have. I started medication and got on a regimen that seems to be working. There have been a lot of up and down times since those days, but I somehow have managed to get through by actually using the resources available.
Today is the first time outside of a mental health practitioner’s office that I have been able to admit that I was ever anything more than passively suicidal.
Why mention it now, when I am doing better?
Because while I am much better, I am still not great. Not even good on some days. I still have those moments of being low. I still have doubts about what I am doing in life and why I am even here. The difference is now, I can recognize those times. I know what there is available to me for help. I can recognize that stage in between being OK and planning my funeral so that it doesn’t come to that extreme.
Knowing that I am not alone and letting others know that they are not alone in situations like these; that those are what the resources are there for; that we won’t be judged or shamed for having these thoughts makes all the difference. That is why I write about my experiences, including this one now. It took me too long to ask for help; I spent time planning my funeral when I could have worked on wanting to live instead.
Three years ago I had everything planned out to die. Now, I don’t know what I have planned for tomorrow, much less three years from today. Thankfully, plans do, and always can, change.