A Painful Walk

Today I walked around my neighborhood – not the entire thing, but a circular loop around two blocks of houses. I knew it was a longer stretch than I can go without being kept up later tonight from nerve pain, but this morning I decided it was worth it. I needed to walk. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Campus Walk was scheduled for today – and a few years ago I committed myself to walking these events.

I walked around the loop as I sipped on a cup of coffee and I thought about Ross, David, and Evan. The people I know who have died by suicide. I thought about their families and their friends.

I thought about how depression is such an absolute shitbag.

I thought about my grandma (who coincidentally – died the same day that David did) and how she suffered from depression. I thought about when she was in the nursing home and I would visit her every day that I could. I would brush her hair, rub her back, or just babble on about this or that. Anything I could think of. She had her okay days – when she would answer my questions and give my kids hugs, and sometimes even bark out a little laugh – and she had her bad days – when she was almost non-responsive and my daughters asked why she was acting like that.

I knew why.

I understood.

My grandma didn’t need to explain to me why she wasn’t talking, wasn’t responding, was hardly looking at me. Since I understood, I didn’t take it personally. I hugged her and kissed her cheek and told her she was beautiful and I loved her more. On the bad days when I did this, she’d make the this sound that only some of us understood – a grief-stricken, apologetic moan. She didn’t feel like she deserved that kind of love. She didn’t feel worthy, even though she so was.

Depression is such a bitch.

My grandma really wanted to die. Who knows for how long – or how many times her depression bubbled up to that point, and then sunk down to a manageable level, only to resurface later. But once she was in that nursing home, her husband already passed away, and she really, really, wanted to die. She spoke that aloud, often.

I was torn. I selfishly wanted her near me. I selflessly wanted her to be free from the pain.

An unexpected health ailment led to her death – earlier than expected. She was consulted with – asked what her wishes were – to attempt a life-saving surgery or to do nothing and know that she would die in the hospital.

She didn’t have to think twice.

I wonder if Ross, David, or Evan did.

Probably. They were younger.

So, when is the cut off for when it’s okay for someone to want to die, and when it isn’t? Or when other people care that it happens? Is it only when your parents are dead that it is acceptable to want to die? Or is there an age cut-off? Does it matter what you were doing with your life or what your potential was?

Is it ever okay?

Even if it isn’t okay, it happens. To a lot more people than people with normal brains realize.

When I walk for Ross, and David, and Evan, I also walk for myself.

I know.

I understand.

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