Oct 18, 2018
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
Aside from my own first attempt at age eight and a few subsequent overdoses, I was relatively untouched by suicide until I was 20 years old.
I was very familiar with death, having lost a few relatives, a good friend to Leukemia, and also having spent the previous six years watching my Mom die of cancer. Death and its proceedings were nothing new to me. All of them except my granddad had advanced notice that they were terminal, so we all had time to become as prepared as one can be in those types of situations. We knew what they would die of and there was nothing “unexpected.”
I was welcomed like family.
I first met Brian when I started a new bartending job shortly after my mom’s passing and we immediately clicked. Due to the odd hours of the job we began to hang out after work. He introduced me to his partner Craig, his daughter and all of his friends. I was welcomed like family, which was something I yearned for in my life.
We partied a lot back then and it was always at Brian and Craig’s house, and at any given time there were at least ten or more people in the house, whether they be drinking or sleeping on a couch. Everyone was welcome there, and everyone was part of one big family. We spent so much time together, between working and hanging out, he had become the older brother I had always wanted.
It was a regular Friday in June when I got the call. I was so confused at first; Craig was crying so hard I could barely make out the words. I thought I heard him say that Brian was dead but that could not be possible so I hung up the phone, jumped in my car and drove to their house. There were cars everywhere as I pulled up to the house, which would be no different than any other time. Still unsure that what I hear could have been real, I raced into the house. There was no music blaring, or movie on the TV, there was only silence and the sound of weeping. Craig approached me, tears flooding down his face and took me in his arms. As we hugged, he wept, which immediately signalled to me that something really was wrong. I started to cry and as we stood together, he told me quietly that Brian had hung himself. Again, I asked for clarification as that could not have been possible; dead was one thing but suicide was another.
The next hours were a blur as at least 100 people came by to pay their respects to Craig, and to mourn with us, their extended family. It wasn’t until everyone had left and the shock had set in that Craig was well enough to explain what had happened. He had come home from work, went to the bedroom to change and noticed neatly folded piles of new clothes. There were pants, underwear, socks, shirts and so on, all with the price tags still on, and a bunch of photos of them together strewn across the bed. It was a matter of seconds before he saw the chord on the outside of the bathroom door knob. He froze for a moment before walking over to push the door open, noticing its heaviness and knowing what he would find in a matter of milliseconds. Brian had hung himself with an extension cord. Below him lay some rope which had obviously not held his weight, an on the counter a full bottle of antidepressants. Craig took him down and tried to revive him, but it was too late. Brian, at the young age of 32 had taken his life, with no note left and so very many people questioning why.
I lived the signs, how could I not see them?
Aside from being devastated and in shock, I was severely triggered. I felt a heavy sense of guilt. First of all, how could I not have known he was taking antidepressants? He was one of my very best friends. We talked about everything, or so I thought. Secondly, having spent my entire life in a depressed and suicidal state, how could I have missed the signs…I mean I lived the signs, how could I not see them? Outwardly, nothing had changed in the previous weeks, or months. He was still the party host nearly seven nights a week; he was still outgoing and fun and had not lost his sense of humour or panache. I had not seen in him the things that I felt daily. I did not see the darkness or the loss of the glimmer in his eyes. I had missed the signs, all of them. I tried to rationalize that I couldn’t have missed signs when there were none shown to me, but all I felt was guilt. Having survived a few attempts by then, I thought I was aware of all of the subtle calls for help because I had used them all myself, and it was eating me up inside that I had allowed this to happen.
The funeral was so packed there were speakers placed in the other rooms as well as in the hallway and entrance and there were still people left on the grass outside. The whole time I kept looking around at all the tears being shed, knowing that any one of these people would have been there to support him if they had known; if we had known, but not a single one of us did, not even his partner or family. The weeks following were filled with gatherings for support, and as life continued on, people moved on.
Craig and I stayed in touch for a few years after until he moved across the country to start over. The guilt remained with me for years. The thought that I could have stopped him somehow was ever present. It wasn’t until my next suicide attempt that I realized that no one can control another’s actions. No matter what had been said to me, I was determined to end my life, and in the long run, I was in control of that, just as Brian had been.
I would have sat quietly with him in his darkness.
Years later, I finally forgave myself. I understood the depths of darkness he had been in at that moment in time where death seems like the only answer because I still carried that weight myself. I will always wonder if there were signs that I missed, but I know now that sometimes, there simply are none. Although I know I will never get the answers to why he felt that way, but I have made peace with it.
I just wish he had known I would have sat quietly with him in his darkness.
Jody Betty is a guest blogger for SickNotWeak who, in her own words, is a master at the art of survival. She lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is co-afflicted with MDD, Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She has survived three serious suicide attempts and a handful of overdoses which lets her know it isn’t her time. You can read her blog “Raw and Open” posted bi-weekly on Thursdays on SNW.