What it Feels Like to be a By-Product of Suicide by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth

What it Feels Like to be a By-Product of Suicide

Something that very few people know about me is that my grandmother took her own life. While that’s a powerful statement, this story is mostly about my Mom and what it feels like to be a by-product of suicide…

I can’t remember exactly when it was that my Mom told me about my Grandmother. I never even met her because she took her own life using a gun when my Mom was 20 years old.

Instead, I just remember the very vivid feeling of being afraid from that point on that my Mom would ever contemplate the same measures. My Mom didn’t have a very easy life growing up, and while that’s not my story to tell here, it’s an important part of understanding the full picture of what it’s like being left behind because someone chose to resort to that.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

When someone chooses to take their own life, it doesn’t just affect that person or the people around them, it affects generations. It doesn’t affect them in the overly idealized ways that we honor celebrities or see in the movies. There are no memoirs, special editions, or immortalized quotes. Instead, everyone around you is stigmatized and people whisper while looking away in pity.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

Rather than special services and tweets from celebrities honoring you, your family is left wondering why they weren’t enough. They’re left asking themselves why you didn’t choose them over the hurt. Why didn’t you let someone in? My Mom was left with these questions and permanent emotional scars. Those scars and wounds inevitably get passed on by even the best of family and friend survivors.

How did this affect me, you ask? Rather than my Mom having a proper example of what it looks like to cope, she has spent the rest of her adult life combatting an inevitable fight or flight mentality to safeguard her heart from being hurt so deeply again by someone who should have had an unconditional example of love — to no fault of her own.

On most days, she does incredibly well and it’s an all but forgotten unfortunate event and we only reference the good. But on not-so-great days, I’m reminded of the selfish** choice that someone well-loved made many years before me because of a deep hurt and loneliness that my Mom feels from lack of closure and never being able to answer the question “Why?”. It’s an emptiness that no one this earth can ever fulfill for my Mom, and so sometimes when she gets frustrated with me or my brother for not being ever-present, I have to remind myself that it’s not coming from a bad place.

You’d think that someone like me, who has seen first hand what the vastness of what suicide can do, would never have similar thoughts, but I have. I briefly referenced the times that I’ve thought to myself “maybe they’re better off without me..” in my third-trimester pregnancy post and very openly discuss a decision to take medication and action towards bettering my mental health.

Because of this, I’m innately overly cautious with trying to stay in-tune with my mental health. Rather than this post being interpreted as a slam against those of have chosen such measures, I’d like for you to take away the fact that mental health issues are an ILLNESS.

They are genetic, chemically imbalanced, and non-discriminatory diseases that should be as well looked after as physical ailments that can be seen by the naked eye.

I’m proud to say that I’m not too proud to discuss my experience with depression and anxiety as well. Being able to admit weakness and imperfection is what it means to show strength, not the other way around.

I hope that if this post finds you in a place of isolation, loneliness, or extreme hurt, that you’ll take heart in knowing that I’ve been there too. That it’s not wrong of you to have heavy thoughts, it’s what you do with them that matters.

Finding someone trustworthy that you can open up to and be accountable to you is the first step in becoming a pillar of strength for others that are hurting, too. There is no shame in getting help! You could be the one who saves many.

** Amended to clarify that my intention with this statement was to make the point that suicide shouldn’t be something that’s easily resorted to or easily justified as it only creates more ease and less fight-for-the-betterment in those suffering from mental illness already. Even more so when it’s a parent or someone with dependents that rely on them. 

What it Feels Like to be a By-Product of Suicide by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth

What it Feels Like to be a By-Product of Suicide

Something that very few people know about me is that my grandmother took her own life. While that’s a powerful statement, this story is mostly about my Mom and what it feels like to be a by-product of suicide…

I can’t remember exactly when it was that my Mom told me about my Grandmother. I never even met her because she took her own life using a gun when my Mom was 20 years old.

Instead, I just remember the very vivid feeling of being afraid from that point on that my Mom would ever contemplate the same measures. My Mom didn’t have a very easy life growing up, and while that’s not my story to tell here, it’s an important part of understanding the full picture of what it’s like being left behind because someone chose to resort to that.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

When someone chooses to take their own life, it doesn’t just affect that person or the people around them, it affects generations. It doesn’t affect them in the overly idealized ways that we honor celebrities or see in the movies. There are no memoirs, special editions, or immortalized quotes. Instead, everyone around you is stigmatized and people whisper while looking away in pity.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

Rather than special services and tweets from celebrities honoring you, your family is left wondering why they weren’t enough. They’re left asking themselves why you didn’t choose them over the hurt. Why didn’t you let someone in? My Mom was left with these questions and permanent emotional scars. Those scars and wounds inevitably get passed on by even the best of family and friend survivors.

How did this affect me, you ask? Rather than my Mom having a proper example of what it looks like to cope, she has spent the rest of her adult life combatting an inevitable fight or flight mentality to safeguard her heart from being hurt so deeply again by someone who should have had an unconditional example of love — to no fault of her own.

On most days, she does incredibly well and it’s an all but forgotten unfortunate event and we only reference the good. But on not-so-great days, I’m reminded of the selfish** choice that someone well-loved made many years before me because of a deep hurt and loneliness that my Mom feels from lack of closure and never being able to answer the question “Why?”. It’s an emptiness that no one this earth can ever fulfill for my Mom, and so sometimes when she gets frustrated with me or my brother for not being ever-present, I have to remind myself that it’s not coming from a bad place.

You’d think that someone like me, who has seen first hand what the vastness of what suicide can do, would never have similar thoughts, but I have. I briefly referenced the times that I’ve thought to myself “maybe they’re better off without me..” in my third-trimester pregnancy post and very openly discuss a decision to take medication and action towards bettering my mental health.

Because of this, I’m innately overly cautious with trying to stay in-tune with my mental health. Rather than this post being interpreted as a slam against those of have chosen such measures, I’d like for you to take away the fact that mental health issues are an ILLNESS.

They are genetic, chemically imbalanced, and non-discriminatory diseases that should be as well looked after as physical ailments that can be seen by the naked eye.

I’m proud to say that I’m not too proud to discuss my experience with depression and anxiety as well. Being able to admit weakness and imperfection is what it means to show strength, not the other way around.

I hope that if this post finds you in a place of isolation, loneliness, or extreme hurt, that you’ll take heart in knowing that I’ve been there too. That it’s not wrong of you to have heavy thoughts, it’s what you do with them that matters.

Finding someone trustworthy that you can open up to and be accountable to you is the first step in becoming a pillar of strength for others that are hurting, too. There is no shame in getting help! You could be the one who saves many.

** Amended to clarify that my intention with this statement was to make the point that suicide shouldn’t be something that’s easily resorted to or easily justified as it only creates more ease and less fight-for-the-betterment in those suffering from mental illness already. Even more so when it’s a parent or someone with dependents that rely on them. 

Comments

  • Nina

    06.11.18

    Thank you for this timely blog post. I never thought about how selfish suicide could be until reading from the perspective of someone who has experienced loss because of it.

  • Ava

    06.11.18

    Having someone close to you take their life is one of the most confusing things, I believe, that can happen to a person. When I was in sixth grade (only four years ago) my cousin took his life and I was clueless as to how I should be feeling, responding, or articulating my feelings in any way. It’s hard to find peace after something like that, but I just want to thank you so, so much for writing these words. Seeing the selfishness of suicide that people often look past, and the feeling of “what could I have done?” Are such reassuring concepts once you know you aren’t the only one feeling this way.

  • Amy

    06.11.18

    Thanks for sharing from this perspective. Although I haven’t experienced a relative committing suicide first hand, a good friend of mine lost a parent to suicide a few years ago. I’ve been to funerals of people who died unexpectedly but I can’t explain the amount of grief and devastation that his friends and family were clearly experiencing. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. My first thought on the recent suicides is how devastated these celebrities children must feel. So very sad all around. Anyway, i just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your honesty and I agree with your take on this. I don’t think posting a suicide hotline is enough. By sharing your experience, you let others know that they aren’t alone. Thank you.

  • Thanks so much for writing this post! I am sorry for your loss and grateful you shared your heart with us!

  • pc Brown

    06.12.18

    First, I am sorry for your mother’s loss, it is unbearable and yes, life long. And yes, there is an actual gene that can cause a heredity of mental illness, severe clinical depression, -just like arthritis, cancer, or dementia; so we must be aware and diligent about our mental health. Thank you for being open about your struggles, I am sure there are people who will read this post and feel a tad better that they aren’t the only one who feels this way.

    In regard to some of the comments, I feel I need to say that I think it is a misunderstanding to consider suicide as “selfish”. This perception may cause even more pain to those who struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts, and or for those who have survived a loved one’s suicide.

    My daughter took her life when she was 27, just 4 years ago. She struggled for years with clinical depression, but due to her wanting to rid her life of it. she sought out help, was active with her therapies, took her meds, volunteered weekly, fostered kittens, exercised daily, ate organic healthy meals, attended church, continued her education, taught, traveled, and was 6 months from her PhD.

    She told me 3 months prior that the thing she struggled with most was the feeling that she had everything and absolutely no reason to feel depressed, yet she also felt she was losing control over her thoughts and decisions. She fought hard for many years to be who she was meant to be. The deal is, this is a real disease that diminished the ability to think rationally and make correct decisions. She understood that she was making bad decisions and felt like it was almost an out of body experience when it was happening. This disease destroys your brain function and your emotional stability, and cause not just mental anguish, but physical pain. To say she was “selfish” is to not understand what the person has actually endured *for years*. Most people with suicidal thoughts have hidden their pain for a decade or more from 98% of the people they know, literally suffering in unwarranted shame, guilt, and loneliness. The fatigue alone wears on their body and soul.

    Family, friends, professionals – we all loved her, she recognized that love, but none of us could help. None of us had whatever miracle it would take to ease her pain.

    My daughter had a very bad upsetting confusing day, and as a result, she took her life. I know it was a mistake, a bad decision, a way to make the pain stop; but it was not selfish.

    Our entire family has suffered her loss for the last 4 years. We carry her pain with us now, however I don’t think there is one of us who blames her. We miss her terribly. The thing we focus on now is that she is finally free of her pain; the pain that was SO excruciating that she determined she had no other choice, no other way of being free of it. I can’t imagine that pain, but I also don’t blame her. Even through the pain *I* feel now- I love her more.

    Some people have illnesses that can be cured or reduced, for others that pain just escalates. It is wrong to label that pain as selfish.

  • Maira

    06.12.18

    I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sending you a virtual hug and I’m sure your daughter is proud of how you are handling the worst thing a parent must endure.

  • San

    06.12.18

    Thank you for sharing your story and for speaking out. It’s so important we talk about mental health and some of its consequences and how it affects everyone around you.

  • Alicia

    06.12.18

    I appreciate your struggle but I have to disagree with your comment of selfishness..

    That is how the stigmatisim starts.
    I’ve lost quite a few friends to suicide and not one of them was selfish. I hope you someday find forgiveness for your grandmother and never have to fight the demons she did. A good start for help with dealing with suicide would be Heidi Swapp who recently lost her son. She has been helping others, and I think she can shed some light on some of this darkness you are in. All the best!

  • Sarah

    06.12.18

    Thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing this story of the impact of suicide in your family. I too have a family member who took their life before I was born, and faced similar ripple effects throughout our family three generations later. I was also raised by a clinically depressed, bi polar and often suicidal mother who is still with us thanks to decades of therapy, medication, and EXTREMELY hard work on her part. When I was younger I was so terrified that I would be the one to find her if she succeeded in ending her life. I felt anger towards her, shame, confusion, and resentment- and I did feel like she was selfish at the time. Now that I’m older and see how far she’s come I am so incredibly proud of her and in awe of her courage and strength, to deal with this disease and persevere, every single day of her life. I know that many others are not as fortunate as I am and have lost family, friends and loved ones to suicide, and a lot of that has to do with the privilege my family benefited from in having access to mental health care. I also realize now that it is not a selfish act, nor shameful, and like the other commenters above me have mentioned, that idea that suicide is selfish propagates the stigmatization of suicide that we must move past as a society. Let’s be careful with our words and phrasing as we navigate these ever-changing, ever-challenging waters. Thank you again for participating and inviting others to join in this vitally important conversation.

  • Irene

    06.13.18

    I would have to say that suicide is absolutely selfish in the way that it brings the ultimate attention to the person committing it. Thoughts like I will relieve those around me of my presence, a kind of martyrdom, a sacrifice for the better of others, a twisted way to be “the better person” and also to have attention, pity, and love for those who lost you, and how they will grieve for you and remember you always are what drive many people to actually commit the act. There’s always help, there are people who love you and are willing to help you. If what you’re doing isn’t helping, then you need to try something else. If you don’t think you are capable of making rational decisions, may be you need to be with a caretaker at all times or in temporary confinement where you can’t harm yourself until you can get better treatment. Set up a process to talk through and deal with whatever circumstances come up. Suicide should never be the answer and saying we shouldn’t “stigmatize suicide” is like saying “let them kill themselves” because it’s not shameful. It’s not shameful, but it’s a loss of a life and should not be something that is freely accepted as just normal day event. Not “stigmatizing” suicide means accepting it and normalizing it as an acceptable answer to mental health struggles, which it is not.

  • Alex

    06.13.18

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story! As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety as well, it is very uplifting to know I am not alone and others feel the same way I do. I also wanted to address 2 things I read in the comments. To PC Brown, I am so terribly sorry for your loss of your daughter. Just know that you have a great mindset when it comes to mental health and you are a great support system. To Irene: your comment about “getting more help or 24 hour care” is very close minded. You are missing the entire point. Someone suffering from a mental illness DOES NOT WANT TO BE SUFFERING. Of course they want to be happy/rational/social/etc, but when you are suffering from a MENTAL illness it effects the way you think and your ability to make decisions. In some cases where people have a great support system like PC Brown was in the above comments, they are able to be more proactive. But for a lot of people, that is not always the case. Whether they don’t have access to that care or they don’t have a support system to help them get there, it can be crippling to make decisions and get help. I don’t think people realize that being proactive with a mental disease is sometimes not an option because you are unable to rationalize or think straight. Your mind is imbalanced and tricks you. Being in mental pain and suffering when you have tried every option, is not a fair way to live. Now, I am 100% NOT saying that suicide is okay. I am simply saying it is wrong of people to say that it is selfish. No one can see the actual pain you are going through or the thoughts that take over your mind when you are trying to function on a normal day. I have recently gotten out of a dark place during my journey with depression, and it feels amazing. Although I will never be 100% cured or better, but i truly appreciate things a lot more especially my support system who stuck by me through a rough 6 months. Some people that suffer from the same mental illness or other mental illnesses are not always so lucky and i hate that just because the community can’t see the “actual” pain, makes them feel that it’s not valid or they easily can fight through it. Trust me when I say, everyone that has a mental illness is fighting. They are fighting every day just to get out of bed and succeed in daily tasks. They are fighting to feel happiness and comfort and stability because when they wake up that is not always an option. So please, don’t blame yourself if someone you know is suffering and you can’t help them. Just by being there, even if it doesn’t seem like they care, is truly so important.

  • Shelley

    06.13.18

    I have to totally agree with the comments about “selfishness”. If you call suicide selfish, then you contradict your comment that it is an illness like cancer or any other disease, it’s like saying someone chooses those diseases too. But we know no one chooses any disease, much less mental disease. My son had a total mental breakdown and was on heavy meds, for 7 months he wasn’t even anywhere near his true self. He took his life after 7 months and I KNOW it had a lot to do with his medications. They do wierd things to the brain.! In the end, this event is not a human test for that person, it is a test for us, to go forward and never ever feel they did this selfishly. I know he is now whole again and I just want to live my life to see him again. Heavenly Father will make all things right, we just need to have faith!

  • pc Brown

    06.13.18

    I am truly sorry for your loss. I can empathize with the pain and the struggle you went through watching your son cope through this. I also want to support your statement that in *many* cases the medication given to mentally ill patients is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario -as with other diseases- medications are only able to accomplish certain goals, often with horrid side effects- which can cause other diseases, medical conditions, and or suicidal thoughts –YES! even the medications to help alleviate those thoughts can flip in a person’s mental state *either* way in an instant.

    Please, please, please – to all who read these comments above, believe the persons who are saying this is a disease of the brain, not a rational decision.

  • pc Brown

    06.13.18

    To Maira and Alex, and all others thank you for your support and kind words, they truly make a positive difference for me.

    Also wanting to add support to Alex’s remarks. My daughter *was* very lucky in that she had not only family and friends support, but *was able to afford* the cost of professional help. She, because she was incredible brilliant, her education, living, and medial expenses were completely paid for, which is not to point out her scholarships, fellowships, and other financial benefits – it is to point out that medical care in the U.S.A. is incredible expensive, and MANY healthcare plans are incredibly difficult to manage, take much paper and leg work to maintain, and most *limit* the amount of actual therapy one can receive. Medications can cost hundreds of dollars, -even those with “good” healthcare must continue to pay co-pays for each visit or episode that needs treatment. If being placed in 24 hour care is necessary, those costs are incredibly high and can devastate an individual’s funds in a matter of days. My daughter still had to pay a co pay – which was eating away at her finances, and although she was intelligent, having to run the paperwork constantly when her brain was broken, became exhausting. She still had to attend classes, teach, work on her PhD thesis, manage her house, and do all that was required of her for therapy. (Not to get political, but this new administration has made these hoops more difficult, less beneficial, and extremely limiting to everyone suffering from a mental issue, including veterans.)

    To imply that someone should just put themselves in 24 hour care is a fairly flippant suggestion from persons who have absolutely no idea what is involved with that. Most, like my daughter, have living situations that would be impossible for loved ones to just swoop in and take over their lives. My daughter lived 6 hours by air travel away from us, independently and was successfully managing her disease – until that ONE day where a combination of meds, and confusion, and to be frank, a person who -WITHOUT FOLLOWING LAWS ALREADY IN PLACE- decided to sell her a gun, without a waiting period, without a background check. Had either of those two laws been followed, she WOULD be alive today, but living in a guns rights state HE decided to waive those laws, and she took her life while my husband was landing at the airport.

    Please take away from this very important discussion that suicide DOES hurt those who are left behind! That is IS a disease that can and cannot be cured depending on the kind of illness the individual has (like cancer- some can be cured, others not so much!), and that healthcare, mental healthcare, and therapies are extremely expensive for those who struggle! This is a horrible disease! More than anything, mental illness is complicated, those who suffer with it, need our support rather than our quick off the top of our head solutions— trust me when I say anyone who has this has pretty much tried EVERY available resource for help.

  • ESther

    06.13.18

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so sorry that you had to be the byproduct of something so traumatic. I’m so glad you shared your story, thank you for your bravery. xo

  • Debra

    06.24.18

    As a retired psychiatrist, I saw how suicide impacts the survivors, especially children. Thank you for writing about this important and poignant topic; my heart goes out to you and your mom.

  • Rogina

    07.31.18

    This story of your mother dealing with suicide and how the future family is touched also has tugged at my heart. My daughter going through stage 4 breast cancer matacisised to the brain has had 3 brain surgeries. These last 7 years has been an enormous burden for her, her husband, children her sister, her children and her father and myself. Each surgery leaves her taxed and in many cases unable to cope. She has come close to suicide on 3 occasions and fortunately we were able to intervene. Of course we feel anxious when we know she has become overextended which will leave her vulnerable. I want to gently encourage her to read this article, thou during those moments she is out of control and logic goes out the window.
    Thank you for sharing this perspective and bless your mother for the pain she has endured. Sharing your pain as well as your mothers has helped more people then you will ever know. Thank You.

Snapchat
powered by chloédigital