Sunday, October 28, 2012

crazy and crazy-making

I spent a rare, relaxing day with a friend today, away from the domestic madness of children, cats, parrots, and my intense husband.  "It's like a mini-vacation," I said to my friend.  When I came home, after greeting everyone, catching up on the news, and cleaning up after some tiny foster kittens, I logged on to Facebook for the first time that day... just as a lot statuses were exploding with teasers about a suicide in our social circle.  That put a close to my vacation-ish feeling.

As anyone who knows me well should realize, I have a complex relationship with suicide, and it is maddening to me when people are acting like vultures around it, acting like there's some personal tragedy unique to them when someone they wouldn't give the time of day to has passed on in this dark way.

This was not my tragedy.  I knew this man, I spent time with him, I joked with him, I flirted with him, I pissed him off thoroughly by refusing to hire him at one point (and I don't think he ever forgave me for that).  But it's not my tragedy.  It's the tragedy of my friend, who was engaged to him for a while back in the nineties.  It's the tragedy of another friend, an old drinking buddy of mine, whom he was actually staying with just before his death.  It's the tragedy of his mother, who survives him, and who he left his suicide note for.

And it's a tragedy similar to ones so many other people share.  This smart, talented and handsome man had bipolar disorder, which he did not medicate because, as his former fiancee and I discussed just a week before he died, he loved the highs of mania.  Bipolar disorder is linked to suicide; the NIH says 25-50% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.

What is the right way to honor the memory of someone who lost his life to bipolar disorder?  I'd like to do something nice for the BART driver who had no choice but to run my acquaintance over (that poor bastard must be having nightmares); I'd like to do something for a random suicidal person with bipolar disorder.  Donating to a foundation working on treatment for bipolar disorder is something else which seems appropriate.  But don't feel sorry for me; it wasn't my tragedy.   I'm lucky to be on the far periphery of this one, and I'm not a vulture who'll circle over the corpse, looking for pity.

I'm reminded of how not that long I nearly died myself, and how strange and alienating the reactions were to that, people making it about themselves that I had a close call with mortality.  When I go, people, for the love of all that is both holy and unholy, don't post a Facebook status namechecking me as a glamorous corpse.

8 comments:

Silliyak said...

A note to BART would be nice, " Sorry this happened to you, hope you're OK" A former co coworker in the FD years ago had a motorcyclist swerve headon into his code 3 fire truck many years ago, and it always haunted him.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Silliyak, that's what I was thinking. The poor driver is going to be fucked up by this. I wish Paul had taken another route out.

I wonder if I write an unsealed note and send it to BART if they would give it to the driver. I would explain some of the life history of my acquaintance who killed himself... no one expected him to live a long life, sigh, but I think we were expecting an accidental death more than this (from something like shooting propane tanks, which he did recreationally).

Silliyak said...

I don't know about the life history, I think the acknowledgement of his or her pain and hope for recovery might be best. That's my thought anyway, but mentioning you were a friend of the deceased might add weight.

J9 said...

I am currently divorcing a bi-polar person and having lived 20+ years with no meds, anti-depressants, and rebalancing bi-polar meds every 3 years. I will tell you that still trying to co-parent with this person is difficult. I can only imagine that the next time rock bottom looms, I may be getting a call. I only hope no other people are unecessarily impacted.
I think a note to the train operator and a donation would be nice.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Much love & strength to you, J9.

drsarahcl said...

Years ago I lost two friends 10 days apart from each other when they chose walking in front of a train instead of trying to deal with their demons. A few years later by chance I met with one of the train drivers and he said later that the acknowledgement from friends and family was one of the most helpful things. Definitely send something to the driver if you feel you can, and look after yourself and your loved ones, Suicide is a nasty insidious disease.
Big Hugs from a longtime reader (but rare, anonymous commentator)
Aka Drsarahcl :)

drsarahcl said...

Years ago I lost two friends 10 days apart from each other when they chose walking in front of a train instead of trying to deal with their demons. A few years later by chance I met with one of the train drivers and he said later that the acknowledgement from friends and family was one of the most helpful things. Definitely send something to the driver if you feel you can, and look after yourself and your loved ones, Suicide is a nasty insidious disease.
Big Hugs from a longtime reader (but rare, anonymous commentator)
Aka Drsarahcl :)

Thomasina DeMaio said...

unfortunately I am paddling through the wake of a suicide,gun to head left by my friend's spouse. Everyone associated with him is feeling the helplessness. this world is a beat down for some souls too weak to fight the fight or chase the demons far enough away to go on existing in a far from perfect world. the situation he has left her in after the police arrived and manhandled her is so horrible it is not to be believed...