**Warning – Please do not read if talk of suicide is a trigger for you.**
I’ve tried multiple times to start this post, but I keep on stuttering and never getting anywhere. So instead I’m going to jump right in.
One of the preschool moms I know committed suicide two weeks ago. Her daughter is in class with my son J. Bridget was 31 years old, with a husband and two girls ages 5 and 3. She was in excellent physical health – she worked part-time as a physical trainer at the Y and had just finished a half marathon.
Like me, she was a preschool mom – always at school for dropoff and pickup, running to Target for errands while the kids were in school, cheering from the sidelines as the kids played soccer.
Unlike me, she looked HAPPY. Honestly, truly, genuinely happy. Bridget had one of those smiles that was magnetic – she drew everyone in. She certainly drew me in even though I didn’t know her well. I’d see her in the preschool, or run into her at the Y, and she was always so friendly. In fact I saw her at Target just a couple of days before she died. We were both there doing a last bit of school shopping. Her daughter and J eyed each other shyly while Bridget and I talked for a few minutes. After I walked away, I thought of how good I felt every time I ran into her.
Bridget was one of those people I looked at and thought, “I should be more like her.” I know I don’t walk around radiating joy like Bridget did.
If you were to put Bridget and me in a lineup, and you asked which one of us was most likely to commit suicide, you would pick me. You would never pick Bridget with her radiant smile.
But Bridget chose to end her life.
When I heard what happened, I was completely rocked. For one thing, I’ve never known anyone directly who committed suicide. For another thing, I simply can’t imagine someone with so much joy struggling with so much pain at the same time. And she just didn’t seem like “the type” who would be depressed. A long time ago I wrote a post about extroverts and depression – I think in my mind, it’s mostly the quiet introvert types who struggle with depression. Obviously that’s not the case.
I went to Bridget’s funeral and cannot express the pain and waves of emotion I felt. At times I felt like I was being ridiculous – after all, she wasn’t a close friend at all. More of a casual acquaintance. But I felt her death, and the reality of her suicide, so acutely. Maybe it was because I had looked up to her as the example of what I thought I should be – happy, perky, full of smiles. Maybe it was because she came from my world as a preschool mom – I know roughly what her world looked like as far as being the mother of young kids.
And maybe it was because I could conjure up pretty readily what her horrible pain and suffering must have been like in the last weeks and hours of her life.
I too have thought about suicide. Not recently, thankfully, but I’ve had my share of critical “episodes” (as the mental health professionals call them). I’ve never taken any steps to commit suicide, but at my worst times I’ve thought roughly about what I would do, how it would go, and so on. At those times when I’ve been so deep in the hole, the pain has been excruciating, and it has felt like it would never let up – that killing myself would be the only way to make the pain stop. Such disordered thinking could also convince me that suicide would relieve my loved ones of the pain and burden of having me in their lives.
I cannot possibly express how grateful I am that I’m no longer in such a horrible place. But I can imagine how Bridget got to that place. My heart breaks for her, her husband, and her two beautiful girls.