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Depressed and Suicidal

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am lost. I used to be so strong. I get suicidal, in theory every day. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is the hurt it would bring on my son and the man that loves me and my sister/other family. I think of suicide everyday, but do not know how to do it, and how to do it without hurting anyone,but realize it would alleviate all this pain that is like being in a torture chamber.

I was left by my husband last year for another woman. I’m heavy, she is young and tiny. She rides motorcycles in a group w/my husband, and I guess it was more than he could resist. I had two heart attacks, and several other health issues that cause chronic pain. I know he must have been sick of that. The depression started from him ignoring me, and my children. I thought I would die when he told me. I cried for weeks. We had been married 24 years and have two grown children. My daughter has our only grandchild and she now has had to move in with him and his grilfriend, while I was forced 200 miles away, because he would not support me, and I could not afford a lawyer. I get very little limited alimoney, the insurance is gone and I have a son who is a freshman at college. I try to look forward to his summer with me, but for some reason, I cannot overcome this deep depression.

I never have a good day. I cannot bring myself to even practice the perfect hygiene I always have, and go from the bed to the couch. All I do is cry and stay awake all night and think. Think about what a failure I am. I feel like my daughter and husband are disgusted by me, because of my health. My son is great, but is gone, of course, except on holiday.

My mother had a severe emotional breakdown in the 60’s when I was very young, and I know now the hell she endured. All I want and all I think it would take for me to be alright again, is to have my family back, and that is long gone, I’m afraid.

I’m alone, all except the wonderful man, who I’ve known for 10 years, who is trying to see me through this torture…who sits up nights trying to talk to me, wants to marry me, and wants me happy. How can I have someone so good in my life, and want to die all at the same time?

Nothing holds any interest to me. I used to be an executive. Now I feel like dust in the wind. I just want to see my grandbaby!! I want to have regular visits with her, and I’d be fine…I know it. How can I let the positive wash away all this pain and hurt??? I feel I can’t endure the mental pain, and staying in the house just existing much longer…Thank you for listening….

I’m so, so sorry that your family has shattered like this. It’s perfectly understandable that you are mad and sad. You are grieving the death of the family you had and, like anyone in profound grief, it is hard for you to find a way to move on. Nonetheless, if you are to reclaim any pieces of the life you hold dear, we have to help you find your way through the grief to a different future than you thought you had. You can’t make other people do things but you can start to make some changes in yourself. That’s where you have control. Once you’ve become stronger, you will be in a better position to insist on more respect. So let’s figure out ways to help you begin to pull yourself back together.

Clearly you do need some more help so let me start by suggesting some resources. Perhaps your male friend can help you explore some of these ideas:
– First (this is very important), if you are taking any medications for your heart, please call your doctor. Some of those medications have side effects that lead to depression. Your grief may be exaccerbated by the medication.
– If you worry that your friend or family members are getting worn out listening to you, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 800 273 TALK. There are counselors there 24/7 who can offer you support and some practical advice. You needn’t feel guilty about talking with them. That’s what they are there for.
– I’m concerned that you haven’t been able to afford a lawyer to help you obtain a more equitable divorce settlement. I did a web search and discovered that your state has legal services for low income people. My guess is that you qualify. (I don’t name states in this column in order to protect people’s confidentiality. Just web search the name of your state and “legal services” and you will find the site.)
-There is a community mental health services board in your area as well. Call 1 866 582 7763 to find out how to make an appointment with a counselor and to ask what they charge a person in your position. A counselor will be able to coach you through your grief and will probably refer you to a psychiatrist for some medication as well. You probably need to consider an antidepressant for at least a little while to help you feel better enough to do your personal therapeutic work. Make sure to tell your doctors about all the medications you are taking to prevent negative drug interactions.

Some people who are grieving find it helpful to compartmentalize the grief. It works like this: Set aside an hour or so a day when you give yourself full permission to feel your sadness and pain. The rest of your day, do as much as you can to cope and to get on with life’s tasks. Push the pain aside by promising yourself that you will get to it during the grieving time. Then make sure you do it. Talk with your counselor about this and other ways to manage your feelings.

You’re right to be concerned about the effect of a suicide on the people who love you. As much as you would like to end your own pain, you understand that losing you would only inflict pain on good people who are doing their best to stand by you. I certainly commend you for keeping that larger perspective, especially in the midst of your own despair.

Once you have started to manage your grief and move through your pain, you will be in a much better position to start to solve the very real problems you are having with your daughter and your ex. Focus on yourself for now. Let the people who love you support you through this. I’m sure you’ve done the same for other people. Now it’s your turn.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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