I think this was toughest on my mother. She couldn’t understand this at all. She tried but she couldn’t understand where she went wrong or why she couldn’t help me. I suppose it hurt her most because above anything, she blamed herself. In her mind, it was her fault. It was all her fault.
It was her fault because she didn’t know how I felt. To my mother, it was all her fault because she never saw this coming. She had noidea how I felt or why I felt that way.
If you would have asked my mother, she thought she should have known better. As a mother, she believed that somehow, she let me down. She thought she had wronged me. Perhaps my mother thought she should have listened better. Maybe she thought she should have been able to see the warning signs. She blamed herself but I can assure this one painfully true fact. It wasn’t my mother’s fault.
There are two kinds of depression. There is the situational kind and then there is the clinical kind. I am no doctor and make no claims to be. I can neither diagnose, prescribe, nor suggest any medication. I only know about my experience. I know what I went through and I have spoken with others who are like me, fortunate to survive themselves, and are alive and well enough to talk about this this.
As a boy, I lacked the ability to communicate. This is a problem with pre-teen and teenage depression. I didn’t know how to explain myself. I didn’t know why I felt the way I did or why. I certainly didn’t know what depression was. I only knew I felt different. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t like other kids. Or more accurately, I wasn’t like anyone else for that matter. I was alone and far away. I was always at a distance and always trying to close the gap, but no matter how I tried to catch up, it always seemed as if I was falling further away.
I was different from you and from everybody else. As far as I could tell, I thought differently. I felt differently and in my mind, I acted differently. I wanted to fit in and I tried to; however, there was always something that seemed off to me.
There was always something out of place. And I never asked to feel this way. I really didn’t. I never asked to feel different or alone. If given the choice, I would have liked to feel like other kids do. I would have liked to feel “A part of” instead of confused or disconnected, and misunderstood.
And the thing is no one else saw this. No one knew anything about this.
I appeared like a happy little boy. I played with toys. I ran around and I laughed. No one knew what was inside. No one understood and no one else expected this from me.
In an effort to allow you as the parent to understand, I expose myself to help answer some of the unending questions that come with such a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, just because we cannot understand, —it doesn’t meant that there isn’t an explanation.
Late one night in a hospital emergency room after a series of events and frustration, I was only 8 years-old at the time, and I was vomiting up large chunks of a red foreign mass, which to my mother’s surprise was the same color of the pills I had swallowed. It seemed too much for me. Life was too much. the pressure was too great. The pain was too intense and I saw no other way to soften the blow
I know this is crazy, given the age.
At 8 years-old, a boy is supposed to laugh, play and have fun. What could have been so terrible that a boy of that age would contemplate the end of his short life? How could this happen, and worse, how could such a young soul with such potential choose a choice like this one.
Back then, I lacked the ability to explain myself. I didn’t have the words, understanding, or vocabulary to tell someone my thoughts or express my feelings. Emotional pain was an odd thing to me because there was no way for the pain to materialize itself. At least if there was blood; at least if there was a bruise; at least this way I could understand the pain and I could understand and identify the source. But there is no blood with emotional pain. There are no bruises or scrapes. There is nothing physical to help define or materialize the pain I felt, which, perhaps is why I struggled to explain it . Even if I tried to explain, I wouldn’t have been able to because I couldn’t understand it myself.
I was afraid. I knew that much.
But afraid of what?
I suppose the answer to this was, “Everything.”
I was always intimidated and always uncomfortable.I was always wondering my friends were really my friends. I was always afraid of being humiliated or exposed and stood up, or embarrassed in front of my peers. And again, no one saw this coming. No one knew and no one expected it.
This is why I always explain that depression and suicide is a silent killer.
I didn’t know there was anyone else that could possibly understand me. Besides, I was afraid to tell anyone about me because I was afraid to find out something was wrong with me. And what if there was?
What would I do next?
I suppose this was hardest on my mother. It was hardest on her because she tried to reach me. She tried to show how much she loved me—but I was always so unreachable. Yet still, my mother continued to try.
This was hard for me. I wanted love but the touch of it was uncomfortable. I had a type of sensory deprivation in which the touch of love and affection felt uncomfortable to me. It was almost electric—as if it could be compared to the sound of picture tube covered with the black and white mix of interference—it was grating to me and painful. I wanted to run from it. I knew there was good behind love but still. I wanted to run. And I wanted to find comfort too. I just didn’t know how. I wanted to tell someone but I never knew what to say or how to explain it. And too, I struggled with the “Why bother” questions because as far as I was concerned, no one else would ever understand.
The truth about suicide—especially young suicide or any suicide for that matter and the best way to explain the feelings behind my attempts is to explain that I only wanted to stop the problem. I saw no other possibility.
When told that this was not the way to go, I swore it was the only way because I thought the problem was me. It had to be me. With all of my heart, deep down, I thought, believed, and felt that I was defective. It had to be me. Why else or what else could it be?
And it’s not that I wanted to die as much as it was that I wanted it all to stop. It’s important that I say this and stay firm on this point because this explains so much about the actual act of suicide. This also explains why so many suicide attempts end as accidental deaths because at the last minute—the victim often changes their mind.
In my case, I wanted to stop the pain. I wanted to put an end to the discomfort and the ongoing awkwardness. I wanted to stop the problems that I had with my interactions with others in school. I wanted to stop feeling weak. I didn’t want to feel vulnerable anymore and I didn’t want to feel like something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be liked or be more like everyone else? Why couldn’t I just have it easier?
I wanted to stop feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and I wanted to stop feeling uncool or unfit for this life. I wanted to find someplace where I wasn’t afraid anymore. I wanted to be someplace where these things that hurt me could no longer hurt me—and most of all; I wanted everything to stop so I could catch my breath. But unfortunately—the world doesn’t stop.
I compare my feelings back then to a terrible motion sickness; only this motion sickness applies to emotion. For example: when air sick, the only cure for this is to be back on the ground and when sea sick, the only cure for that is to be steady on dry land. With this mindset, there was no way for me to keep my feet on the ground and as far as I was concerned there was no port for me in my emotional storm. In truth, I saw no other way. And I reiterate this because again, it’s not that I wanted to die so much. It’s just that I desperately wanted it all to stop and I saw no other way how.
I suppose this was toughest on my mother because although she tried, and had she known or had I been able to help define the problems, my mother would have been there to help me.
She swore this was her fault.
If it wasn’t her fault, it had to be someone’s
But it wasn’t . . .
At least, not in my case.
Whether it is situational or as it was in my case, chemical, my depression was overwhelming. I couldn’t see any other way out. I felt helpless and I was tired of feeling this way.
So, one night I decided to swallow a bunch of pills to settle the screams in my head. I suppose I thought I would simply fall asleep and that would be it. Fortunately, the pills I swallowed were not something that could kill me.
I suppose the question you ask is the same question my mother asked.
“What could have been so bad?”
I was only 8 . . .
This is supposed to be a great time. This is when boys are supposed to be boys. They build clubhouses or tree-houses. They’re supposed to go on adventures. They’re supposed to play games like baseball and have a list of friends. At this age, kids are supposed to be thinking about having sleep-overs or collecting baseball cards.
What could have been so bad?
Well, if I have done my job in this post and if you have understood any of what is above; then I will tell you that all of the above is the reason for why kids contemplate, attempt, or commit suicide.
Maybe it would have helped if I had someone to talk to that didn’t seem like a parent or a teacher or even a doctor. Maybe I was afraid to let them down. Maybe I was afraid I would be in trouble and maybe this makes no sense but in the mind of me as an 8 year-old, nothing made sense. Or, maybe I was afraid people would see me differently or again I say, maybe I was afraid I would find out something else was wrong with me.
And then what would I do?
Maybe it would have helped if I talked to someone who understood—but how was I to know there was anyone else that knew what this felt like?
Like I said, I suppose this weighed heaviest upon my mother. Moms are the protector. Moms are there to care for us. They fix us, give a kiss and put a band aid on our cuts and bruises. When we’re sick, Moms are there to nurse us back to health. i know this broke my mother’s heart because when she wanted to care for me, she couldn’t.
There was a time she was even angry at me. I suppose my mother was angry because she was hurt. She was hurt because she felt helpless. My mother was hurt because she couldn’t help me and she was angry because anger covers the frustration a mother feels when all she wants to do is care for her child. However, to no avail, my mother was angry because no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t reach me.
I cannot say every case of pre-teen or teenage depression is like this. I can only say that I have spoken with several kids who felt this way and survived unfortunate attempts like this. And whether the outcomes or situations were similar or different—the emotions behind our depression and attempts are the same.
As I write this to you, I understand that none of my words can calm nor soothe the unbelievable and unbearable pain you are feeling right now.
I do not expect my attempt at a possible explanation will solve the endless questions that come your way. However, I offer this to you because had I been gone and my attempts been successful; I know my mother would have wanted to know why.
What I remember most is when my mother asked me, “Why didn’t you come to me for help?”
I answered, “I don’t know,” because the truth is I didn’t know how.
I suppose this answer was toughest on my mother.
I suppose she blamed herself for not knowing, seeing, or being able to stop me. And of course, she thought this way. She was my Mom.
What kind of Mom wouldn’t think this way?
With tears in her eyes, my mother told me, “You know, I would have helped you.”
I didn’t know if I thought she could help me or not
I just knew I wanted it all to stop
That’s why I did what I did . . .
May the heaviness in your heart give way to the light of love.
May the tears you cry be replaced by the memories of smiles
And may God give peace to you and yours
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Note to the reader:
Anonymity is important to me. That being said, if it seems there is no one else to talk to about this sort of thing, reach out to me. I’m always around and easy to find
You have my word on that