For the Mom Considering Suicide
Wednesday, September 7 2016 Taylor Arthur
For the mom considering suicide, please don't give up (What to do if You Are Suicidal). I know what it feels like to be so tired and so desperate that nothing feels more appealing than just not being here anymore. But please listen to me, mama: you are worth saving. You are worth fighting for. Your family is worth fighting for, and they need you to be well so they can be well. So, friend, if you are considering suicide, if you think your family might just be better off with you, this is for you.
If You Are a Mom Considering Suicide, You Are Not Alone
I first want to tell you that I already consider you my sister. You are my sister because we fight this battle together, you and me. Being a mom is hard enough without fighting a mental illness every minute of the day. But you are not your illness. You are worthy, beautiful, and whole, no matter what the lies in your head scream at you.
Did you wake up exhausted again this morning and think to yourself, I just don't want to do this anymore? Did you think, after that fiftieth blow up at the kids that maybe, maybe they might be better off without you? Yeah, I know that lie, too. I've lived years on end with the nagging thought in the back of my head that they'd all be better if I weren't here to mess up this family anymore.
Mom Considering Suicide, Are You Believing the Lies Your Mental Illness is Telling You?
I know that feeling when I'm too worn out, too depressed, too drugged to get up and be a mom, when my husband takes time off work to care for the kids because I just can't. I know the lie telling me that I'm failing at this motherhood thing. That lie tells me they all think so, too. I've lived years on end with the nagging thought that they'd all be better if I weren't here on this couch, in this house, messing up this family. I’ve lived years fighting back those thoughts until I had no fight left in me.
And then one day I asked my husband what he thought. I mustered up my brave on a hard day, when I watched him race around between conference calls to help feed the kids lunch. I asked him, tears welling, "Do you think I'm lazy? Do you think I'm a terrible mother? Do you think you and the kids would be better off without me?"
He stopped cutting chicken nuggets in half to look me in the eyes. He grabbed my face in his hands and asked me,
"Is that what's going on in your head? Because nothing could be further from the truth. Just because you have a bad day, just because you have this illness, doesn't mean you are not an amazing wife and mom. So kick those thoughts out, okay? They're lies. And we need you."
Mom Considering Suicide, Have You Shared Your Thoughts with Someone Who Cares About You?
I started to wonder what other thoughts might be lies. I told my therapist about these thoughts, about my daydreams of just not waking up one day.
She asked me,
“Do you know what the one thing kids don’t recover from?”
I thought of all the ways I’d already failed as a mom.
“Having a bipolar mother?” I answered.
She shook her head. And then she gave me this gift,
“No. You can mess up in a thousand ways with your kids. You can be a drug addict, you can go crazy, you can neglect them or hurt them. They can get over it. You're their mom, and they can love you through almost anything. But what they never recover from is when a parent leaves them, either through abandonment or suicide. They never get over that, and they always think it’s their fault. What's worse, many perpetuate the cycle. There are higher suicide rates for children of suicides. So if you can just stay alive, they have a really good chance of being okay."
I sat back, aghast. I had been thinking that maybe if I just slipped away it would all be better for my family. I was screwing so much up, not contributing like I should, not performing up to my own impossible standards. Maybe they could just get a better wife and mom.
Mom Considering Suicide, Do You Know How Important You Are?
I started laughing, and crying and exclaimed, “That’s so simple!” And so full of grace. I may not be a gold-standard, Pinterest mom. But if I can just keep breathing, my kids have a shot at turning out not completely screwed up. If I can just keep breathing, I’m doing right by my family. I may not be the mom who gets them to school on time or holds her temper or makes the much-needed second income. But if my first thought in the morning is simply, “Just keep breathing,” maybe I can succeed at that. Maybe you can, too, my friend.
So, Mama, set down those standards that are impossible for anyone to keep. Set down the belief that you are not worthy of all the help available to you. Grab onto this idea that you are enough, as long as you’re breathing, for your family. You are the only one who can be their mama. You are the only one who can keep their mama breathing.
Don’t buy into the lie that this family of yours will be better without you. Fight for them by fighting for your own life, for your own health. Fuel your self-care with your love for your family. And be the best breathing mama you can be. Never forget that your very presence, your breathing self, is absolutely necessary to the well-being of your family. You, my friend, are absolutely necessary. Don't give up.
For more information on the effects of suicide, support if you are suicidal or have a family member who is, please read:
- Suicide Hotline Phone Numbers
- Suicide Information, Resources & Support
- Effects of Suicide on Family Members, Loved Ones
- Understanding and Helping the Suicidal Person
- How a Mother’s Death by Suicide Affects Others