“I was 8 the first time I tried to OD on pills. This makes lucky 13.” Even with training, even knowing the importance of a therapeutic alliance, I am still human and as I sit across from a 38 year old mother of four, it takes all my effort to refrain from tearing up. She is not unlike others, she epitomizes our reality today of people at the brink of letting go. She is a woman who is struggling every day to keep her head above the depths of sorrow and devastation. She is convinced it would be easier to give up than to keep going. She explains that she has lost everything: Her career, her husband, her home, and now her children after allowing the wrong person into her life at the wrong time.
What makes her different? She hasn’t given up, she is in my office, seeking help and holding onto hope that something will change. She makes it clear her children and their future are a big reason for that, which is common for many who will honestly talk about the brink of giving everything up. Survivors often say that had just one person simply talked to them, they wouldn’t have made an attempt. But nobody did, and they didn’t reach out for help.
Having personally lived through a family member’s choice to end their life, it is a particularly difficult and sensitive topic for me. I take every warning sign, every comment, no matter how much it is dismissed as a serious one. I know the reality of how quickly it can happen and seemingly without warning. Teenagers are the most worrisome as they are often in their own world anyway, sequestered away from parents who have learned to keep some distance and without a fully developed brain they are impulsive and reckless. Even with a solid foundation, drugs and alcohol can push those we wouldn’t suspect over the edge.
My client is going to be ok as she has worked solidly on a plan for growth, hope and commitment to what the greater cause and purpose is. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed, depressed, sad and hopeless as we all get these feelings at some point in our lives. Rest assured that no points are taken away for reaching out for help and those that truly love you will continue
to love and support you. It is important to check in with those you choose to love and involve in your life and ensure that people are talking. Find solace in knowing that with communication there is relief and with relief comes hope.
As always, seek help from a professional whether it is your own struggle or someone you love if you ever have concern.