I wrote this a year ago and I haven’t had the guts to publish it until now. It’s a very vulnerable story and not necessarily something I want to dwell on, but it’s an important one. Recently a good friend of mine ended his life in suicide–consider this a tribute to him and to HG Mamas everywhere on this day of HG awareness. Also, no I don’t want to talk about it.
I’ve always been told that people that commit suicide were selfish. You hear that often when the topic comes up. It’s not something I hope anyone would say to the faces of bereaved family that has lost someone to suicide.
But suicide isn’t always selfish. Or, at least, it doesn’t always seem that way.
Glennon Doyle Melton talks about seeing that door, and once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. It’s terrifyingly true. That thought, that word, it used to scare me and seem so outside my circle-completely not a part of my reality.
So that’s what I was thinking, there on the couch in that dirty basement alone. And that’s when I thought of suicide. That’s when I decided that suicide would keep me from having to face my people and my pain and shame yet again. And so I imagined suicide and it felt like scary, sweet relief and the imagining lingered much too long to be safe. It registered with me, kind of like how you find the exit doors in a movie theatre before the show starts. Just in case. There they are. Kay. I know how to get out if I need to. Once the exit door registers for you- it never fully unregisters. You always remember where the doors are. Just in case the shame gets too heavy. Effing shame. It’s never the pain that takes us out of the game, loves, it’s the SHAME about the pain. But the thing is: That night in that basement, I imagined it–but I didn’t do it. AND SO I KEPT ON LIVING. It’s National Suicide Prevention Day. My incredible friend Jamie at To Write Love on Her Arms is leading a brutiful movement to rain down hope on hurting people today. He wants us to take a moment to say to the world’s canaries: IT’S OKAY TO FEEL TOO MUCH. Stay with us. We need you. It might not get easier- but YOU WILL GET STRONGER. And so those of us who have been there- we’re pointing to that moment in our life when we considered the exit door and we are saying: I WAS CLOSE, TOO. BUT I HELD ONTO HOPE. AND SO I KEPT LIVING. And we need you to keep living too. YOU ARE LOVED. (Please click the link in my profile above for my story.) #LoveWarrior #IKeptLiving #suicidepreventionweek @twloha @jamietworkowski #NSPW16 #WSPD16
And then I got horribly sick. Sicker than I’ve ever been. So sick my body wanted to die. When I’m pregnant unmedicated I can’t keep water down. I tell people to remember the worst food poisoning or flu they’ve ever experienced. Now imagine that gnawing at you for months. This insanity that comes with starving and dehydration and the deep sadness of isolation and anxiety is heavy.
One evening as I sat in my tub I looked down at my PICC line and it all flashed in my mind in one instant. I could cut it or yank it out. It goes straight to my heart-I would bleed out and be gone fast. I wouldn’t be in pain anymore. Jon wouldn’t have to take care of EVERYTHING anymore. Me and the sweet baby I was carrying could be safe and sound in heaven, like it was supposed to be and I could watch over my little family from there. It didn’t sound scary, it sounded like peace. It didn’t seem selfish, it seemed helpful. That scary word “suicide” wasn’t even a part of the thought process. For a split second it seemed like the logical, right thing to do.
And I am so very lucky that my brain took these thoughts, shelved them and said “hmmmm, that’s not ok.”
The fact that in that instant all of this made so much sense now scares me. If I didn’t have the support system that I do I can’t guarantee I’d still be here.
This entire experience opened up my eyes to a completely different outlook. I wasn’t only thinking of myself considering this option-I really did want the pain to end for everyone involved. I wanted to remove the burden from my husband and children. There was nothing dramatic about it-just simply that I would finally be at peace-safe with my baby.
When I’m driving alone in the car, or in my shower I have flashbacks to that day and those difficult times and I’m still figuring out how to process it all.
Thankfully a stint in counseling and time and space from all of it has brought so much peace to my heart and gratitude that I’m still here.
To those of you who have lost loved ones to suicide, I hope this can shine a light on what they may have actually been thinking. I was only sick for a short time compared to others that suffer. To those of you that have had these scary thoughts yourself-I’m glad you’re still here. Please get the help that you need. And to you fellow mamas suffering with HG-I wish I could hold you tight and tell you there IS a light at the end of this horrific tunnel, even though it’s hard-you can do hard things.
Resources for HG Mamas:
Pregnancy Sickness Support is our sister charity in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. Their website hosts a mountain of information from oral hygiene to managing your mental health. They also have a forum on their website which women from Ireland are welcome to join.
The Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation is the main charity in the United States which provides support and information internationally. They are the main funders of research into HG in the US and have volunteers around the globe. Their website hosts dozens of research papers and support information as well as a forum.
Spewing Mummy is a UK blog by the Chairperson of PSS, Caitlin Dean. It has a wealth of information in a straight talking and often witty style. Caitlin has written two books on hyperemesis. Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide is for sufferers and healthcare staff. The second, How to be an HG Hero, is a book for children whose mother’s are sick to help them understand and empower them.