The question

Having had a shift in my primary relationship recently it has brought me to an awareness that as much as the adage is that if you have friends who love and care for you, you have all that you need – it’s not true.

The reality is that when you are an accessory to everyone in your life and a priority to no one, it’s a very lonely place to be. You, in truth, have no one to call on when you need someone the most. You have no one who has you in their heart and soul as “theirs”.

So the question arises, what do you do when you realize you can’t do it alone…and you find yourself alone?

I’m not talking about a question of not wanting to be alone to go to a movie or being tired of spending Saturday nights at home watching tv while your friends with partners have a snuggle bunny or are out for a night of fun.
I’m talking about what do you do when you are dealing with and living with an almost debilitating depression and grief and look around and realize that you are in need…finally having come to the conclusion that you can’t do this alone.. And you see that you are alone. That the friends in your life have been wonderful and supportive for months and they have started to drift and distance themselves as it becomes clear that you are not getting “better”. That the contact is less and less as they realize that your “need” is not lessening and they just simply back away quietly.
The texting slowing to a stop in many cases. Interaction that was close and plentiful now sporadic and confined to running into each other at public events and gathering that you both frequent. The replies when you break and reach out now answered with clipped answers or short statements of encouragement, then an explanation of how busy they are…but “we will definitely get together for a walk”.
So you withdraw more…you distance yourself…start not attending get togethers because of the disconnect between the face you have to put on and the feelings inside.
The sadness when you see that your friends take, at face value, the mask you project and embrace it as truth…expressing their happiness that you’re “better” when the truth is that they want to see you better so that’s what they see.
A horrendous loop of you giving them what they want – you “better” because they no longer have the desire to see the real you and the pain you still have that is getting bigger and harder to live with everyday.
So the question arises, what do you do?

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Stigma

Alot has been discussed about the fact that even now with all of the education and talk surrounding mental illness we still have a social stigma regarding it.
As much as I would like to think that I don’t contribute to that I have had to ask myself the very tough question of, do I?
If Willie had died in an accident or as a result of a criminal act or other brutality from outside forces would I have just as difficult as time telling people the “why” he’s no longer here?
I guess on some level, I’ll never know because the truth is that he is dead because he took his own life. One of the things that I’ve learned this past year is that I can “what if” myself until I am crazy and there still won’t be answers – or at least no answers that satisfy the questions I ask.

Today is the Bell Let’s Talk day for Mental Health and today of all days I was having a discussion with someone at work and it turned to family and life in general. Her and I had discussed kids before and this time she finally asked why I never talk about what must be the fourth son….that she knows I’ve had 4 and I talk about the oldest 2 and the youngest but never about the “other” son. I said simply that it’s a hard subject. She asked if he is ok and I replied “no”.
There was silence and she said that I didn’t have to explain and I thanked her for understanding.

I went out for a walk afterwards and had to ask the question of why… why didn’t I say anything… what stopped me from sharing the truth and the reason. Is it simply that I didn’t want to share or is it that I didn’t want to share that he killed himself.
Still trying to decide and not liking the answer that I keep finding in my heart.

One Year

A blink, a flutter of an eye and a year is gone.
A year of moments, observed rather than experienced
Memories that are not felt but glimpsed in my mind’s eye.
A surreal existence that is ephemeral in my grasp
Days and night lost to time

A year, the longest of any I’ve ever known.
Every second ticking by without end.
Hours into days that stretch on in perpetuity.
Time that has stopped and held in a place of pain and blackness
An inhalation held with-out release

The exhalation and step forward that eludes me.
A lean forward rather than a step now…
A gentle change in direction begins softly
Lips parted and my breath escapes with hesitation
The reluctant stirrings of acceptance begin to settle in the space of my loss.

Willie did just this…he left us with his story to tell. His legacy of us to carry on and strive to make his story heard and understood and learned from. I owe Willie that. To not hide him or his story. To use it to try to make a difference.