When Friends Are Just Not Enough

I recently received the news that a dear friend and mentor had died. When I tried to inquire as to the how and why, I was told that the family did not want it discussed. The obituary in the local newspaper asked that donations be made to a substance and alcohol abuse program. Later, another mutual friend texted me and suggested that the death had been suspicious — a possible suicide. I didn’t sleep for two nights contemplating what depths of sadness and pain could drive my pal to do such a terrible thing. I’m not sure whether the rumor is true or not but as I thought over the past year’s worth of conversations, this made a little bit of sense.

“Victoria” (not her real name) was prone to dark periods where she would do nothing except go to work and home; work and home; work and home. If it wasn’t about work, she wasn’t talking to you. Sometimes she wouldn’t return phone calls for weeks on end. When asked where she’d been, the response was usually something akin to “trying to climb out of a dark hole.” She’d always made a lot of money but times were getting tight. She felt too many people depended upon her success and deep pockets. She wanted some peace. I knew she was over extended and having business and financial problems but in the current dreary market — who isn’t? She was totally stressed out — pretending not to be — and living in abject fear of losing. What? I just don’t know.

The idea of clinical depression crossed my mind a time or two, but I never brought it up. Usually, after a lengthy cheerleading session, I would receive a “thank you” text for helping lift the veil. Life would go on as usual for a while.

In the days just prior to her death, I had a strong sense to call her. The thought kept flitting in and out of my mind but I ignored it. You see, I’ve recently relocated to another state and my life has been wrapped up with the move, rebuilding my business and my toddler. I kept pushing that thought away with “I’ll do it next week.” Except now there is no next week. I wish I’d stopped and made the call. I’ll never know now, if a positive word from me could have changed the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel guilty or anything, I just wish I had taken the time to follow my gut.

Suicide is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary situation. When one is emotionally and mentally invested in things (money, houses, cars, possessions, social standing, what others think about you) that don’t carry much lasting spiritual import, we can get out of balance. Top this off with depression and it is a recipe for disaster. Most of us can feel blue, down, frustrated or sad for a moment but we snap out of it. Depressed people do not just “snap out of it!” In fact, they are very adept, a lot of times, at hiding that they are even in it.

What many of us consider setbacks, inconveniences and solvable problems, depressed people find insurmountable. I don’t say these things only as my opinion. For more than 20 years my entire family has dealt with a addicted, manic-depressive, suicidal relative. There have been many late nights into early mornings spent waiting anxiously in hospital emergency rooms and dozens of police/ambulance calls and involuntary commitments. Often when we think of emotional problems we think in these extreme terms but so many more people suffer silently without all the drama — until they break. Fortunately for us, when my relative is on the correct medication, life is better for us all — not perfect — but certainly better.

Suicide is never the right choice! Oh yes, it may take the committer out of the picture but it leaves behind broken and shattered lives; families torn apart with grief and friends wondering what they could have done to prevent a tragedy. Whatever you might be going through is only temporary! It will pass! And if you don’t think it will pass, please, please, please find someone to talk to. And if you think you know someone who might be suicidal, depressed or both — certainly intervene! Speak up! Do something!

I loved my friend and I will miss her for the rest of my life. She was a great person. She was a kind person. She was a generous person.  She was a troubled and lonely person who had apparently not founded herself in the things that are truly important.   She had placed so much of who she was into the things that did not count towards who she was that when this economy started to fail — she felt like a failure.  She was not a failure. Life failed her and so did her friends — including me!

I am selfish. I want to hear her laugh. I want to talk about my plans in my new home. I want to pick her brains for ideas. I want to bounce my ideas off her. She won’t see my son walk. She won’t hear him talk. Aunt Victoria is no more.

I just called my Mom and asked her that if I ever got to the end of my rope would she pull me in? Of course, she said “Yes.” I can sleep better now.



2 thoughts on “When Friends Are Just Not Enough

  1. nice article; thought provoking…reminds us we should act on our instincts, no matter how strange or questionable they may be

  2. Very compelling story that makes rethink in our priorities. There is a time and place for everything and being out there interacting is an important part of keeping our mental health in check. Nice blog, J.

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