Trigger warning: Strong emotional content and suicide method mentioned.
I protected my child from cars in the street. I worried when he got sick and ran a high fever. I feared he’d die in a car accident, get childhood cancer or be abducted.
I worried about a drug overdose, a drowning or even a shooting.
It never occurred to me that my child’s worst enemy was in his own head. That his brain would betray him like it did. Tell him he was worthless and convince him he’d be better off dead.
I just couldn’t imagine it, fathom it or wrap my head around it. Until I had to.
I never expected that blonde headed bundle of toddler energy and fun to grow up and suffer from depression. Then addiction. As a teen, he was so funny, engaging and charming. So loved.
We saw changes in middle school. I tried to figure out what it was and how to help him. We worked tirelessly on it in a system that is both frustrating and fractured. His sleep disorder kept getting worse and as a result the mental illness got worse. As did his drug use once he got to high school.
It’s so hard to completely change how you think of your child from what you’ve always known him to be.
Sitting in that police car the day we found out he died, Randy asks, “How did he die?” I’m thinking it’s a crazy question– absolutely sure it’s an overdose. When the policeman said, “He hung himself,” I didn’t process the information as quickly as my husband did. I stared and it took me a few seconds to understand. It’s like it didn’t penetrate my head and when it did, my world collapsed. The shock and grief hitting me like a dagger to the heart.
Why didn’t suicide occur to me? Never once did it dawn on me that he’d do what he did. I had had thoughts about possible suicide many years prior. But after seeing his reaction to a friend who attempted, I thought we were safe from it. He truly detested it. Was angry even.
There’s not a lot of discussion about suicide and the opiate epidemic despite the number of recovering addicts that will tell you they wanted to end their lives when using or withdrawing.
Charles suffered from depression. He was addicted to heroin. I know now that those two are an ideal combination for a suicide.
Funny how my own brain deceived me and didn’t allow me to even consider what is now obvious.