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Part The Second

I want to thank everyone for their sympathy.  Carrie was a big part of my every day life for a very brief period in time.  I regret that our friendship tampered down so drastically over the last three years.  She killed herself on a Tuesday night, while I was at a PostSecret event in Iowa City.

If you ever get the chance to hear Frank Warren speak, please make sure you get there.  The events are almost always free and open to the public.  Frank is humble and really seems to shy away from any sort of celebrity.  He focuses on the humanity that is delivered to his mailbox every day of every week of every year.  He focuses on how amazing people are and how resilient we can be.  I left there liking people.  I left there feeling positive about the human race and feeling uplifted and inspired about my own life.  After this event, I felt so much better even though I never realized I felt unwell in the first place.

After Frank had been talking for a number of minutes, he looked out at the crowd and said in the amount of time he’d been speaking, 24 people had killed themselves.

I think about that now.  I think about my reaction.  I was startled at the number and my heart hurt because I thought I maybe had an idea of what those 24 people were going through.  And now?  Well, my God.  How creepy.  One of my friends had killed herself in that short time he’d been speaking.

Someone had said that Carrie was a coward for killing herself.  I wanted to scratch their eyes out and scream that they didn’t have any idea what kind of a girl she was, how her head worked, what kind of life she led.  They didn’t know her!  How could they make a blanket statement that suicide was cowardly?  But a lot of people feel this way.  They think death by your own hand is the easy way out.

From my description the other day, you can see that my dear friend didn’t have anything to get “out” of, except the prison of her own head.  She didn’t have tangible stresses.  She wasn’t in a mountain of debt, she wasn’t in a dead end job, she didn’t have an abusive spouse, she wasn’t dying of cancer.  She was depressed.

When I was fifteen my mother took my to a psychiatrist because I’d been having crying jags in the barn for no reason at all.  After asking me a few questions about my life, he looked right at me and asked, “Well, what have YOU got to be depressed about?”

The disease is sneaky.  It doesn’t care about your age, gender, social class, or relationship status.  It takes the fat, the thin, the rich, the poor, the pretty and the plain.  And fighting the thing is HARD.  I’m getting off on different tangents, here.  Forgive me.  Back to Carrie.

Have you ever sat in the same room with a suicidal thought?  Have you ever soaked your pillows with tears because you were wrestling with a plan, an idea to finally ease your pain?  Have you ever had to think about everyone in your life and how they would react to your death?  Have you ever scrawled a list of pros and cons for mere existence?  Have you ever had to really put yourself first?

Depression is selfish.  I can understand why people see it that way.  When you’re down in the din and muck you are so self-absorbed because you’re trying to SURVIVE.  Surviving is a selfish thing to do.  And sometimes, in order to survive, social plans get canceled, phone calls aren’t returned for days, and you only lie in bed.  Just breathing.  Because that is all you can muster the strength to do.  Unless you’ve been there, unless you’ve been that color of depressed, you can’t understand.  And to those of us who have been so far down, we know you don’t know.  And it’s okay.  Because we think that once we get better, once we can get in the shower and meet you for coffee, we can explain it.  We’re so far down, but we have hope that one day, we’ll be able to explain.

Until it gets to be too much and you’ve been in that bed for days and the hope is gone.  Until you are so sick of disappointing the people who love you and you can’t bear to do it to them again.  How can they possibly still love you after all of this?  They’re probably just being polite.  They don’t really want you to show up at parties and dinners because you’re such a damn drag.  They’re just minding their manners and inviting you anyway.  You tell them over and over that they don’t have to invite you, it’s okay, they’re off the hook.  You understand that they don’t want to be your friend.  And they STILL manage to keep a straight face and tell you they care about you, they really want you to join them.  Why do people keep lying, you wonder.

Suicide isn’t a cowardly act.  Imagine looking down the barrel of a gun.  Did you squint and close your eyes?  That’s my reaction when I see down gun barrels in movies.  I can’t watch.  Imagine taking pills, swallowing them methodically.  Each time you swallow, you know you’re ending it.  And it isn’t a release.  It’s awful.  You don’t WANT to be in this situation.  You want to be healthy and happy and full of joy.  But you’re tired of bringing people down and you’re oh so tired of faking it.  You want life for the people that know you to be easier.

Reality isn’t in focus when you’re alone in your house, trapped in your head.  You don’t imagine that people will mourn you forever.  You acknowledge that they might be sad, sure, but they’ll get over it and go on to live happy and productive lives.  You can’t understand that you’re forever altering their lives, the way they see the world, the way they see themselves.

I think of Carrie in her house that Tuesday night.  I picture her sitting on the floor, knees pulled to her chest, long curly blond hair covering her face as she hangs her head and cries.  Body wracking sobs that choke her and a tear stained face that kisses from her cat, Speedee, can’t clean.

I don’t know how she did it.  I don’t know why she did it.  But she will never be a coward, she will never be selfish.  Not in my book.

Thank you for reading.


8 Responses

  1. oh babe
    i can’t think of anything else to say
    just miss you, my little chicken
    this makes me feel selfish… don’t ever leave me.

  2. Very well written and explained. Depression is one of the scariest diseases I could ever think of, and ANYONE battling it can not be considered a coward. By ANY means.

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog today. I think you’re right – I just need to kind of go with the flow right this second and see where it takes me.

    I always look forward to your comments. 🙂

  3. Reminders of our suicide several moons ago. I still think about her and what life would have been like for her and her family if only…

    Take care of you kid. You’re very special to me, even if we never work together anymore!

    • I miss working with you so much that I cry sometimes, John. For serious. That can’t be healthy, right?


  4. I’m not sure what to say except that I think she would probably thank you for writing this for her. I can tell you were a better friend to her than you think.

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