Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: Suicide Victims are Not Weak, Selfish, or Cowards

I just made something of a difficult decision to unfriend someone who has been an online friend for about 12 years. I didn't block this person, I don't hate them, but I really can't be friends with someone who expresses harsh opinions of people who commit suicide and is not willing to attempt to have sympathy for those who have made this desperate decision. 

Trigger warning for discussion of suicide and severe trauma

 Not everyone is wired exactly the same way. Some people naturally bear up under adversity better than others. Those who can't manage to get through are not bad people.
One of the experiences which caused me PTSD for years was the sight of a young autistic and severely mentally ill man with brain damage who could no longer continue the struggle and who blew the front of his forehead off with a shotgun.
 For years not a day went by that I didn't see that image in my mind. I never hated him for it. Most people had no idea the struggles this guy went through. The day came that he couldn't do it anymore.
I had to "flatten" the image and desensitize it so I would stop thinking of it all the time. It's the same thing I had to do with the last time I saw my father. He was a shell of his former self, lying in the bed in the hospice, not breathing and not moving. I was very stoic and didn't cry. I knew I would never see him again in this life when I left the room, but I had to leave. I was a zombie. I dreamed of that image of him and I didn't want to remember him that way, so I had to flatten the image in my mind.
When a person commits suicide, it causes trauma to those left behind. It's fair to be mad at the person. It's not fair to say they were weak or selfish or a coward.
Also, not everyone responds to the "magic pills" in the same way. Some people do very well with antidepressants, but not everyone is wired the same. My son had no response to them at all. For me, they made me manic and psychotic. I had a cousin who tried many medications and didn't respond to any of them. She ended up committing suicide. She was not weak, selfish, or a coward. She was at the end of the line and couldn't go on another day. What she did does not make her a bad person.
There is this tendency to believe that people who live with mood disorders aren't "trying hard enough." In fact, few people try harder to overcome their "stinkin' thinkin'" than people with mood disorders. If it was easy to break out of depression, nobody would be depressed. Who the fuck WANTS to be depressed?
Happy people are not "better" than people who are unable to be happy. I can count on one hand the times I've truly felt happy. I've been giddy, which is not the same as being happy. There is a peace that comes with actual happiness. Giddiness is a form of mania.
My baseline is moderately depressed. Over the past few years, I've realized that doesn't make me a lesser person than someone who is always happy. It is highly unlikely that I will ever become a person who isn't always at least a bit sad. This realization has lessened the suicide ideation to a degree, but the suicide ideation will also always be there. I don't need to "heal" and become a "bright light" to be worthy of respect and good treatment. If you believe in a higher power, maybe us "dark" sorts serve a purpose just as much as the social butterflies. Introspective people have a tendency to be both observant and empathic. That's hardly a bad thing.
If I commit suicide, it probably won't be because of my mood disorder. I can't say I'm friends with my mood disorder, but we've reached an understanding. I won't continually try to eradicate it, and it will quit trying to kill me.
No, if I commit suicide it will be because I am either in an intolerable state of physical pain or because I have developed dementia. If that happens, I will not tell anyone before I do it, I will just do it. No-one will know until after the fact. 
I would never say that someone who committed suicide for this (or any other) reason is "weak," "selfish," or a "coward.
If you're a person who can continue on in spite of adversity, great. Maybe that makes you a "better person" in some ways. But it doesn't make people who can't bad people who should be treated with disdain. 
A little empathy is in order. Maybe if you can't muster any, you should be questioning why your beliefs about people who are suffering are so harsh.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

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