I Didn't Think I Would Actually Share This Here

I really try to not dwell in the past, but someone asked a question this week that reminded me of the unique circumstances around surviving the suicide of someone you love.  

My husband took his own life four years ago.  It was not his first attempt, although I had been told after the first attempt to expect he would succeed someday.  He and I had been divorced for five years, brought about by his undisclosed (to me) and undiagnosed mental illness.  He had a laundry list of possible problems, although schizophrenia was the most clearly presenting affliction (he admitted to me later that he had always heard voices but never told anyone).  He also had symptoms of bi-polar, severe anxiety and Asperger's.  One social worker told me that he also presented as a person who had been sexually abused as a child, although he never confirmed that.  All I knew was this was the most intelligent, educated, loving, amazing man I had ever met, except, well, when he wasn't.  Much of the time he was fine, but then he would hit a depressive cycle that would last 18-24 hours, and we had to tiptoe around him, careful not to get wrapped up in his funk.  He had these odd rules he would enforce as well, and because we loved and respected him, we would follow them, even though they made no sense to us at all.  You just don't naturally think the worst about someone you love, and I found that we were all being secretly bundled up in his insanity.

What ended our marriage wasn't any of the above, but rather his openly declared need to find sexual partners outside the marriage, both male and female.  Now understand that we had a very active sex life -- sex daily was common throughout our marriage, so it wasn't that he had unfulfilled needs.  But I couldn't take the outside partners, the ones who he would bring home to meet the children, the ones whose house he was beginning to prefer over our own.  Something in me just turned off at that point -- where I had been accommodating and understanding, well, that all just came to a crashing halt.  I asked him to choose, and he did not choose me and the kids.  

So he moved out.  

Within months his life had completely fallen apart.  He had no job, and the people he had left the marriage for had abandoned him.  He started cycling through psychotic episodes, getting in trouble with the police and getting evicted from his apartment.  He wrote me hundreds of scathing emails.  He threatened my life.  He threatened to kill the children.  He drove his car into the house.  I felt I had no choice but to get a restraining order.

He cycled downward so fast, he finally had nowhere else to go but the mental hospital.  Three days after admission, he made his first suicide attempt.  Since even his entire family had abandoned him, I found him (I tricked a clerk into telling me that he was a patient) and went to see him.  Then I felt like if I took the kids to see him, maybe that would help him realize he had a reason to live.

We did supervised visitation for years, once a week for four-six hours.  He always tried to pull it together for the kids, and we reestablished a measured but cautious friendship for their sakes.  He finally moved into a rent subsidy apartment and was on full disability.  He was on his meds.  He was making friends again.

And then, quite without any real warning that I can recall or discern, he took his own life.  He hung himself in his apartment on Easter Sunday, 2005.  He left a note, blaming me.

Which gets me back to why I even started writing this.  The question was something like -- if a parent takes his own life leaving young children behind, is he still a good parent?  I hemmed and hawed and wrote something really apologetic to the asker, but later that night it dawned on me -- it's no different than if a parent dies from cancer leaving small children behind!  It's an illness, not a rational choice, that drives people to violate their survival instincts.  Of course he was a good parent -- to the extent he was able.  He was a good husband, too.  Except when he wasn't -- except when his brain chemistry wouldn't allow it.  

So forgive me for remembering the good qualities of my husband, before it all got terribly strange.  But I do, because I need to believe that despite his illness, his love for me and the kids was one of the most tangible things in my life.  I still feel it.  And I'm sorry if I encourage my children to remember their father with fondness.  But he did earn that fondness, and he did not choose to have the illness that he had.


edgargeorge edgargeorge
41-45, F
31 Responses Jul 31, 2009

Thank you, my father killed himself when I was just 2 years old, and it has always weighed on me. Thank you, reading what you had to say gave me hope that he actually did love me.

You should NEVER feel that you have to apologize for remembering the good that was in him. As a husband and as a father. Instead, it is someone like me who wants to say ...I'm sorry. Sorry that he left a note BLAMING you. I hope that you TRULY KNOW deep in your heart and to the depths of your soul that it wasn't him doing that. It was his illness. When you are left to pick up the pieces, you NEED to have something good to remember and focus on about that person. I believe that having that helps to soften the blow of losing them and helps to 'smooth' the roughness of those memories of the bad times. My sincere condolences to you and your children for the loss of someone you all loved. I do hope that as time has passed, so too has some of the sadness that you and your children have been left with.

It's funny how we stick with people, even as they unravel. Love is a powerful thing. To have left a note blaming you ... that's a tough one. Because of you, your children knew him and got to see the better side of him. You gave him extra time, but ultimately it was doomed from the start. I hope you are not always damaged by it. My heart goes out to you.

I have never lost somebody so close like your situation in my life. SO I dont <br />
know exactly how you feel. But it is sad when somebody goes in this manner. <br />
and as you mention it also is really bad when a Parent takes their own life <br />
and leaves their kids devastated. I had a friend like that in College <br />
His dad killed himself when he was a child and let him and his sister <br />
in a mess of a time. Man I wish these things didnt have to happen.

wow, you are a brave person. I hope by now the void that physical absence leaves is filled with even more beautiful memories. My story is a little different My best friend who hung herself as well on june 15th 2011 was also a twin sister. we were a tight group of friends 7 girlfriends since 7th grade ( 15 yrs being friends ) Everytime we would hang out after we graduated highschool it would always be with the "twins". It was a shock to me. This was the LAST person i thought would do such a thing. Actualy when i struggled with depression in 2009 she was the one being my support... strong.dependable... logical person ... not too emotional as i am ... When the girls had a arguement we would always break the tie with the twins becasue they were more neautral . so to my surprise that at 25 she took her life. She did alienate herself from the group once she started dating a very controlling guy but to me it was still out of the blue. Her twin sister tells us after her death that she was on anti depresants on and off on and off ... she told me about her sympthons ( headache dizzyness, chest pains, not being able to move, ) and they were exactly the same sympthons I was experiencing when i abrutley stopped taking lexapro i even got a full panel blood test and heart test a ctscan etc nothing except that my hepathic enzimes were extreemely high but i remember feeling soo so so depressed i did want to die but maybe since i was used to it, maybe since i had more experience with the state of depression i outlasted it, till this day i dont know exactly why she did it but i struggle with anger, guilt because i felt it in my gut that i should just go to her house w/o warning, sadness and curiosity. I miss her so so much. She was cremaded so i did not get see to her body... i do dream about her constantly. i dont know what i believe anymore in regards to her soul, im not a very religious perosn, i dont go to church, i do pray but i guess im more of a new age kinda person ... i think know she was a good person and that she deserves to be happy wherever her soul is.

Yes its difficult but you must remember that person was ill, and therre was nothing you could do. His blaming you was a rather selfish thing, but he must have felt unwanted at home, and unappreciated in his own mind. Nothing you could have dont would have chnged the outcome. im sorry for your loss and wish you peace. Remember the best of him, for the bad in his was his illness. This is toughing and im sad reading it. i feel much emapthy for you. I pray tou dont blame yourslef and find peace. your love lives on for true love never dies.

It is hard when you deal with something so difficult like depression, and when you add the person you love it's even harder.. I have been in your shoes and I know how it feels...Thank you for sharing your story, it will surely speak to a lot of people here.

This story meant a lot to me. My father had schizophrenia and suffered from alcoholism; he took his life earlier this year. He was still a wonderful parent when he was. Your story sounds so similar to what my mom went through; it really is comforting to know that others have had such similar experiences.<br />
<br />
Thank you so much for sharing.

You are right, it is an illness. I lost a loved one to suicide and yet I never really believed he was ill. I still don't, although a mutual friend of ours refered to his illness. I am writing a whole book on our fight for his life with the intention of helping others who have lost someone to suicide.

I am sorry for your loss. I too lost someone to suicide. My son took his life at age 25. He had bipolar disorder and girlfriend trouble a deadly combination. He left behind a beautiful daughter who is now 14. I had never even heard of bipolar. I just knew he needed help. He was going to come and live with us - but I guess he didn't think he could make it. I spoke to him 2 days before, and he said he would come and get a job and help with expenses. I wish I had told him not to worry about that, to just come home and heal up. I was sad for a couple of years, but it almost killed my wife, she eventually had a nervous breakdown, suicide attempt & was hospitalized. She never fully recovered, but after about 8 years she could bear it. I remember worrying about her trying to kill herself, dealing with her goofiness, anger, anxiety & depression as the dr tried to find the right blend of medications. It was a lot of walking on eggshells for me too, and sleeping lightly. We were lucky that the Dr eventually got the right drug mix and she became wonderfully sane again. She passed away 6 months ago - I think I understand the depth of her pain now. With my son I was able to block out any sad memories and remember the fun times - there were so many memories that brought joy to my heart. Its very hard to get past the pain of losing my wife, but I am starting to think more of our happy times and less about just feeling my loss.<br />
I just recently found EP, and have joined groups like this. On the one hand its kind of morbid and creepy, but on the other I am able to share stuff - I don't know whats going to end up on the page when I start, but it is usually healing and I feel better afterward. Thank you for sharing your experience. My heart goes out to you. You're right, it is an illness, and no matter how much you love them, that is not enough to cure them. I'm glad you choose to remember the amazing good man.

<br />
GO TO: Be informed.<br />
my sister was not.<br />
:O(<br />
www.Drugawareness.org/recentcases/suspicious-suicide-of-sister<br />
I am very angry<br />

im upset at this myself. im sorry for your loss. ~hugs~

Thanks for sharing. <br />
A lot of respect coming your way for remembering him for the guy he was and not the illness.

That's a fascinating process, huh Pedro? The artful construction of an alternate reality in the futile hope that they can once again control a partner with shame and guilt. For me, there was a point when I took back the power he held over me, and when I did that, it frightened him and the terror escalated. <br />
<br />
I was incredibly lucky to have a great lawyer who helped me realize it wasn't about me, even though it really felt that it was. From a new vantage point, I was able to do what was right for me and the kids -- and right for the kids meant getting a handle on things quickly, without blame or anger. Okay, yes -- it was right for me, too. <br />
<br />
Thank you for your comments and kind words, Pedro! :)

I am so sorry for your loss, gruuvygirl! Much of your story is quite familiar. As odd and callous as this sounds, it makes me feel a little better knowing I'm not the only person in the world who feels the way I do, so thank you for sharing your story with me. ((hugs))<br />
<br />
The most important thing to remember is that there is not a thing you could have done to heal him - meds and treatment, or not. In fact, your love for him kept him here longer than he wanted to be, I'm sure. My husband talked about being in constant pain, his strong suspicions that he was so different from the rest of the world, and the fatigue he felt trying to fit in and be a good person. I am so glad he chose me to exercise his goodness on, and it feels wrong of me to hate him for all the times he couldn't hold it together. <br />
<br />
I wish you well on your recovery. Big hugs, again! e/g

My My bi-polar fiance' recently committed suicide (on July 12). I am absolutely devastated! I did not see it coming, plus to make it even more traumatizing, I found his body! :(<br />
I did not know he had been diagnosed as bi-polar until after he death, when his family told me. He kept a lot from me. I knew something with him was not right, but I overlooked those things because I absolutely adored him. At the beginning of our relationship he was incredible. He made me feel like the most important person in the world - like a goddess. But as time wore on, his bouts of anger began to emerge. He was also insanely jealous and very controlling. If I even mentioned an ex, he got very mad. He didn't like it when I talked to ANYONE. He was even jealous of my kids! <br />
<br />
The night before he hung himself, we had been in a spat. He left and was in his parents' house in the next town, which was abandoned. He just sat there all night drinking. He ended up drinking a fifth of Rum!! But he kept texting me "if you really love me, come to me" and "I love you" over and over. I felt like he was manipulating me, so I did not return his texts. <br />
Now I regret that to the core of my soul. I feel like if I had gone to him that he would be alive and with me right now. But my counselor told me that maybe if I came, he would have hung himself right in front of me or taken me out first and then himself. Nevertheless, the guilt I feel is overwhelming. I have since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and have been in a psyche hospital twice.<br />
<br />
But when it was good it was incredible! He was a sweet man when he wanted to be. But he left me – knowing I had no job ) I recently been <br />
<br />
Is pathological lying a characteristic of bi-polar people?<br />
<br />
He was such a good liar that I did not even know that 3/4 of what he told me was not true until after his death. That devastated me because I feel like the person I thought I loved and wanted to spend eternity with wasn’t who I thought he was. Part of him was an illusion. He was who he thought I wanted him to be! I keep finding out more and more things he lied about and every time I hear about another lie, my heart takes another hit. It is overwhelming! I loved that man more than I have ever loved ANYONE!<br />
<br />
I'm having to grieve my baby's physical loss as well as the loss of the person I thought he was. It makes me physically ill to even think about it.<br />
<br />
I will never be the same!<br />
<br />
Thanks for sharing!

This is sad groovygirl. You cant blame yourself,as you said he was a pathological liar, so you probably didnt believe it. Youre an amazingly strong woman and im sorry for your loss. Mental issness is a true heartbreaker, because the real person is inside but cannot get out, Im crying for you.

Well, my struggle was in the belief that if I just loved him enough, he would be fine. Once I realized that my love for him wouldn't have cured him, but was in fact one thing that actually kept him going despite his disease, I found it much easier to forgive myself -- and him. <br />
<br />
Thanks for your kind words. I feel that I am the lucky one, to have the kids that I do! :)

EG, thank you for sharing your extraordinary story. Your ability to put this part of your life into such understanding and forgiving perspective is nothing short of amazing. Your children are very, very lucky to have you for a mom.

Very well said Nyxie. Thank you for writing this.

Lilt, the kids handled it better than I did, I think! They are both amazing young people, which speaks to the love and respect their father had for them. <br />
<br />
And Lauren -- thanks. Peace to us all! :)

How have your children dealt with this?

Oh, golly Sappy, hugs back! I don't know if it could ever comfort someone who experienced what we did, but if you think of mental disease as any other disease, it seems more logical somehow. More possible to understand. Thank you so much for your kind words. You are a great friend! :)

Hugs to you EG. : )<br />
You are an incredibly special woman. If only everyone understood mental illness truly is no different from any physical disease.<br />
It's always heartbreaking to me to see the families of suicides treated as if they've done something wrong, to be ashamed of. As if it must somehow be their fault for not saving "him". We need to discuss this subject more openly to bring about real understanding.<br />
Thanks so much for posting this. It's sure to bring comfort to many. : )

And yes, Lilt, it's not something we have a manual to help us navigate. Hugs to you for being wise and thoughtful in dealing with your family member's issues.

thanks, kanada. And I am so sorry for your loss. All I know is that my husband explained cogently to me, on numerous occasions, how much pain he was in. And I know, from trying, that you can't love a person to wellness. So I'd guess that your brother wishes you to remember the great things about him.

thank you for your story it def gave me a different way to view and deal with my brothers suicide. im def finding it easier to cope with by holding on to gud memories of times shared together rather than dwelling on the bad so thank u very much for sharing as am sure it couldnt have been easy to write

Unfortunately, I've been up close and personal with bi-polar disorder in my family. The manic episodes are incredibly hurtful and often just plain mean. But you recognize, it is not them. It is the disease.

Thanks, Lilt. It's easy to forget sometimes, especially when it's paired with extraordinary intelligence. Not that people deserve a break for hurtful behavior, but they do deserve our understanding.

Edgar, you have shared more than just a story. Mental illness is a disease like any other. I appreciate you pointing that out. <br />
<br />
Your strength is admirable. I am sorry for the loss to your family.

Thanks for sharing this story, Robbo. Like her, I don't find wallowing in my surreal past serves much purpose.

Hello again. Thanks for sharing this, I appreciate that it must have been unbelievably difficult for you to write about. <br />
It is a completely different situation I know, but I was thinking about my old Sunday school teachers, a married couple for 10 years who were apparently both deeply religious and who seemed so perfect for each other and then, without warning, one day he kissed her goodbye in the morning, said see you later love (as he did every morning) and then whilst she was at work, he moved out of their home and cleared out the shared bank account, leaving only a letter saying he had met someone else and was leaving her. <br />
At first she was beside herself with hurt and grief but then started to piece her life together again, she managed to forgive him and remembered the good times they had shared together. She didn't want to waste her life by thinking that what they had had was all for nothing. This lady is an inspiration to me and I really admire her strength of character. As you know, I am also inspired by you edgar so once again, thanks. x

Thanks, soursweet. It's all quite tough to compartmentalize, but it seems to work best if I stick with the happy parts.

Thanks, EG. What you say about not letting go of "one of the most tangible things in your life" brings me peace.<br />
Somehow we're made to think we have no right to love what was (also) very painful.