I love to laugh and make people laugh. This wasn’t always the case. I was terribly depressed as a child, due to heredity (depression runs in my family) and circumstances (neglectful parents, family traumas…). I’ve written about my mother’s death by cancer when she was 49 and I was 18.
Two years ago, I wrote a semi-mysterious blog-post about the death of my ex-husband. I kept the circumstances dubious because…he died by suicide. There’s so much shame, guilt, and stigma related to suicide, I didn’t want to go that dark.
Losing my ex-husband, though, doesn’t compare to a loss I experienced more than 25 years ago. It’s one I’ve mostly kept in the dark all these years. It’s been wrapped up in layers of shame and guilt. Siblings are like our other-selves. This heavy dark truth is that my brother, Glenn-David (my parents couldn’t decide between Glenn or David, so they used both names), was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1988. He died by suicide shortly thereafter. We’d had a tense relationship, fraught with animosity, and that’s been the most painful aspect to grapple with.
I’m sharing this with you now because I’m coming out of the darkness in a big way these days — in hopes of helping others. For the past several months, I’ve been organizing Chico’s annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk for suicide prevention. I’m Event Chair, and it all happens this coming Saturday, 9/27. I’ve recently participated in local radio show interviews and worked on a newspaper segment on suicide. I’ll be giving a speech on Saturday, during which I tell my story.
Here’s the last paragraph of my speech, which summarizes the main points I want to impart:
There’s no singular way to respond to this tremendously complicated crisis of suicide. What we need to do, though, is exactly what we’ve gathered here to do today – to connect with compassion; to talk openly about our pains and losses related to mental illness, depression, and suicide; to chip away at the monstrous levels of stigma that poison our cause; to take care of ourselves and each other – which means not harboring the often suffocating force of guilt- so that we can continue this all-important mission of creating a world without suicide, one step at a time.
We’ve already raised more money than we did in past years, and we hope to have 500 people join the fight. It’s pretty exciting.
Sometimes along the edge of trauma, we find beauty. This event is truly beautiful and uplifting.
Life is worth living — for the chocolate, for the laughter, and to help pull each other out of the darkness.