We’re remembering a departed noder on E2, and that’s fine. We’re posting nodes to potential suicides, and I’m sure that is helpful and healthy. Not being bipolar or even a clinical depressive myself, I’m not quite sure how I would react to having someone imploring me not to be so G.D. F’n selfish and inconsiderate as to even contemplate or threaten to take my very own life. But that’s neither here nor there. What I really want to say is this   :

Over and above E2, I am a member of an actual community where suicide happens. Often. The irreverent among us will sometimes comment that, “Some are sicker than others”; the more compassionate point out that “many of us have problems other than our common addiction”; the stoic or pragmatic simply say, “She (or he) chose to leave us”.

What many non-suicides often overlook, what the members of my community seem to instinctively know, perhaps because we share our souls with each other so openly, is that the last final, desperate act appears to be the only possible solution. Yes, we tell them that it is the permanent solution to a temporary problem. Yes, we work with them and try to help them change their outlook on life. It’s great when they do turn their lives around. It doesn’t always happen.

I went to a memorial service for a friend not too long ago, someone who I’ve sat around the tables with for six, maybe seven years. Yvette worked very hard at attaining emotional stability. She had arrested the physical aspect of her addiction, was deeply spiritual, but emotional sobriety always eluded her. She died four days after jumping off the balcony of her fifth story apartment.

Women generally take a softer, easier way out. Yvette was in the medical field and certainly had access to pharmaceutical means. We know that this final, successful attempt was the fourth or fifth in a series. Apparently, this time she wanted to be absolutely certain she would not fail.

Years ago I read an article written by someone who had been suicidal. The line that sticks in my memory went something like   :   “When you really want to end your life it doesn’t take courage to perform the act; the real courage is in not doing so.”

And, finally, I am remembering Charles. He was the branch manager of a small outpost in Gabon, working for the same company as my husband, Jean-Alfred. When it was time for Charles and his family to go on annual leave, he sent his wife and three daughters back to France a week ahead of his own departure. Then he killed himself. He chose a method common in Equatorial Africa   :   the ingestion of 100 or more malaria tablets, then a frantic plunge into the jungle to die, finally, somewhere in the bush.

I was furious. I asked Jean-Alfred, “What was wrong with him? Didn’t he care about his family, his friends?”

”When anyone is in that much pain,” Jean-Alfred said sadly, “nothing else can possibly matter.”

May God rest their souls and give them peace.


I have never, ever even considered responding to a node before now, but I think that a daylog is as good a place as any to do just that. iamkaym's daylog (just above this one) references a daylog I wrote a couple of years ago. It also makes me sound like an unfeeling bitch in a snide way, but that's sort of beside the point. I wrote that daylog because yes, I was tired of people being "so G.D. F'n selfish and inconsiderate" as to post their threats of suicide here. I stand by that daylog and everything I wrote there.

Look, I understand that suicide is a way out of extreme emotional pain. I also understand, probably better than most people, that emotional pain is just as excruciating as having your skin removed shred by shred with a rusty dull knife. It is real and debilitating.

I attempted suicide myself back when I was a kid in boarding school. Someone found me and I had my stomach pumped. If anyone in my life at the time had been paying attention, I was pretty obviously sick, but I was away at school and no one was watching closely. My father attempted suicide three times, and none of his attempts were "cries for help" by any means. He meant to die. The only thing that stopped him from dying were complicated variations of the right people being in the right places at the right times.

Maybe that's why I have so little patience for the selfish act of leaving suicide notes - or suicide threats - in the paths of relative strangers.

E2 is a community, true. But it's a community of people who communicate primarily through little glass boxes at considerable distances from one another. That distance creates a profound barrier to helping someone who is actively suicidal.

iamkaym, it is incredibly naive to compare an organization like Alcoholics Anonymous to E2. AA's primary purpose is to help fellow members with a variety of issues. E2's primary purpose is to provide a place for people to write stuff.

In AA, if someone is actively suicidal, there are ways to help that person beyond simply encouraging them to buck up. Other AA members can alert family members or call doctors or police. Here on E2, there is nothing any of us can do to help a suicidal user. Not only are they hidden behind fake names, they are often hundreds of miles from other E2 members.

Yes, nothing else matters when someone is in that much pain. Trust me, I'm aware of that. But a suicidal person who is lucid enough to post their suicidal ideations on a site like E2 is probably a lot more on the "cry for help or attention" end of the spectrum.

It isn't the job of the editors or gods to deal with potential suicides on E2. It shouldn't be anyone's job on E2 to keep a watch out for potential suicides. If someone is able to write about his or her desire for death here, that someone should be able to ask a person in their actual life for the help they need. It's simply unfair - and yes, selfish - to post that sort of shit here.

Let's say that the pain our hypothetical person is in isn't emotional but physical. He posts in a daylog that his leg has been amputated in a car wreck and that the stump is bleeding ferociously. He's near death. My question is this: what good does that do? If your leg is bleeding out, go to a doctor. Don't post about your horrible fatal injury to a helpless community of mostly young and distant people who can do positively nothing to help you.

If this makes me sound cold or harsh, so be it. As someone who deals daily with severe mental illness, I certainly hope that someone would jerk a knot in my chain were I to selfishly and inconsiderately begin writing daylogs about offing myself.

My mother saves money. She was born in 1928, the year before the Great Stock Market Crash. So her young formative years were taken up by the Great Depression and then the shortages and rationing of World War II. So she saves money. Compulsively. Obsessively. She has a more-than-comfortable income, but she yelled at me the other day for buying a bottle of that fancy balsamic vinegar for cooking when there is a gallon of white vinegar in the cupboard already.

When I started college, I shared an apartment with five other girls. I had twice as many clothes in my closet as any of the other girls. But every outfit was wrong in one way or another. Most were colors that made me look like a corpse before they slapped on the cosmetics. And they tended to fit poorly. And they were mostly cheaply made to begin with. My mother would not dream of buying any piece of clothing that was not on sale. And sorry, those wimpy 10 or 15 or 25 percent off sales would not do either. Those aren’t real bargains. Like a junky who needs ever greater hits to get the same buzz, Mother needs ever-deeper discounts on the things she buys to get her buzz. It’s the 75 percent off rack for my mom. And don’t dream of asking her for money to buy my own clothes. She loves to shop, and I might not spend my money wisely - i.e. on bargains.

I wouldn’t dream of telling her that last summer when my dog got sick I laid out over $500 to save her life. My mother would never have paid that amount of money on vet bills for a dog - after all, you can get a new one for free just by looking in the classifieds.

I like to wear SAS shoes. They look like granny shoes, you tell me. Yes, well, I am a granny now, and my feet hurt. I’ve never found a brand of shoes that are more comfortable for me. The problem is, they run over $80 a pair. Mother came to my rescue. She found some shoes that looked “just like SAS” shoes in a dollar store. She bought them just for me. I was supposed to be grateful. The fact that they clearly looked like cheap imitations didn’t matter. The fact that they were not comfortable didn’t matter. The only thing important is that they were a bargain.

I started to write this as an amusing account of one of my mother’s quirks - her habit of pinching pennies and wasting thousands. But as I wrote, the anger began to show more and more clearly.

My first impulse is to deny it. No, no. I’m not REALLY angry. I’m just painting an amusing word-picture of my mother. But I still hear the anger. And I am angry at myself for being angry at my mother. But maybe the anger is still there because I’ve been denying it for so long. My mother has overcome great problems with great courage. There’s no denying that.

So it would be wrong to criticize her.

Mother’s mother was schizophrenic. She has mentioned how when she was only five her mother would tell her about the angels and demons that had visited in the night, and how she believed these stories and how they frightened her. And how angry she was herself when she became old enough to understand that they were only her mother’s delusions.

And mother had polio when she was only five years old. She tells of being in the hospital with her lungs filling up with fluid. And the doctor would come in with this huge needle which he would shove all the way into her lungs to drain off the fluid. The doctor told her that he would give her a silver dollar (a day’s wages for a man in 1933) if she let him do this without screaming and fighting. One day she counted, and she had 20 silver dollars under her pillow.

When mother hit puberty, her spine began to bend in the way it shouldn’t. Scoliosis, they call it. For many years she was told that it was the result of the polio. But now they say no, it is genetic, it runs in our family - she just got a really bad dose of it. She had a painful operation and wore a full body cast for a year. It didn’t work. A few years ago her orthopedic specialist told her she had the worst scoliosis he had ever seen. So she has this misshapen body and pain.

Despite this she gave birth to eight children, raised seven of them on a school teacher’s salary. Most of her children are college graduates, none has ever gone to jail or had a drug problem. All but one have married and only one divorced. They have all worked hard and been contributing members of society.

Everyone agrees that my mother is a paragon.

But she isn’t perfect. She is a steamroller. A kind, generous, intelligent steamroller, but a steamroller nevertheless. Standing up and saying I refuse to be steamrollered takes a lot of energy. Sometimes it’s easier just to let her roll over you.


Always it’s easier to let her roll over you.

They say that depression is anger turned inward. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve been depressed so much of my life. There is all this anger toward my mother which is unacceptable. So I turn it on myself.

Oh, and about the money saving. How much has she saved? None. Though she is always hunting for bargains, if she has a dollar it burns a hole in her pocket. She can’t stand to have money in the bank. She can always find someone who needs a thousand here or a thousand there. Or she buys more furniture and gives away the old. Or she pays for upkeep on a motorhome she has not used in five years but will not sell. Or she buys dozens of world globes that are on sale because the world map has changed. (They sit in the garage which is full of other unused bargains because she can’t find anybody who wants them.) It’s very amusing.

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