Caution: Frank discussion of suicide. If you need help, call 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to speak to mental health professionals.
She danced and traveled. She was an accomplished psychiatric nurse and author. A searcher, she was seeking answers, solutions, alternatives. She provided support, encouragement, friendship and love to more people than we’ll ever know. She suffered clinical depression and it was fatal.
Her manner of death was suicide but the cause of death should be listed as depression. When you have an incurable case of major depression and the treatments don’t seriously alleviate your pain and darkness. when self-care isn’t enough, the desire for peace doesn’t cease.
People say you have to accept your circumstance and make the most of it. For some people, the only way to optimize is to stop. Stop everything.
My friend, Ashley Peterson, previously wrote on her blog at mentalhealthathome.org that her prior suicide attempts occurred when the unlivability of her illness outweighed concern about hurting others. That must be exactly what unfolded on October 9, 2022.
Wanting to avoid causing pain to my wonderful family and friend is, for all intents and purposes, what keeps me from choosing to end my life when I come to those forks in the road. Intermittently over the years, I’ve thought about suicide. How? When? Where? Not a serious consideration of ‘this door or that?’ but quite similar to thinking about an upcoming trip or an event, rolling over possibilities, including imagining the pain it would cause. I think, “Yeah, but people die everyday. Families and friends are suffering loss all the freakin’ time. They’ll grieve, but they’ll get over it. Whereas, I am not able get over fibromyalgia or depression. There is no end to my grief.” During the darkest hours of this punishing depression, I come to that damn fork in the road. Do I check out, put an end to the torture? Fnally opting for the one treatment I know for sure will end the burdens of me and provide peace, whatever that looks like OR do I delay the upset and heartache that will descend upon my family and friends as soon as mine rests. Because I am incredibly empathic, I can feel the magnitude of the sadness that would result for my husband, sons, mom, sisters, close friends. I’ve lived to love these people and cannot bring myself to visit darkness upon them. I’m not going to be responsible for causing sorrow to the people for whom I’ve been weaving love and compassion all these years. In the end, so far, I find myself not choosing in order to choose,
Although I’ve become exceedingly familiar with depression and suicidal thoughts over the past 20+ years suicide I’ve never understood copycat suicides. Until now. I AM NOT SUICIDAL, just to be clear. My lovely friend chose suicide on October 9, though I didn’t learn of it until October 29. I am devastated, but I also know Ashley came to a place that was unlivable. Yes, she knew it would rock the world for those of us who love her, share with her, exchange support with her, but it couldn’t be avoided.
And then I think, “If Ashley, a psychiatric nurse who traveled the world alone, wrote books, blogged, provided crucial support to others daily, if she couldn’t find any other way, I’m really not going to be able to cure my disease or even get seriously on top. What chance do I have?” There comes the choice between Door A or Door B. The copycat suicides are people who have already been suffering and considering how to get out of the pain. It’s been mulled over and over. Then, they see a person with whom they identify, decide enough. When Ashley died, I thought to myself, “I’m going to end up there anyway. If it’s permissible for this amazing person to choose peace over depression, maybe I can, too.” I wonder. Yesterday, I made the choice to not linger. I know the longer I ruminate over the life and death of Ashley, the harder it will be to change course.
Blogging is how I knew Ashley. So this blog post is how I’m grieving her and grieving loss of hope. These are thoughts that have emerged from, literally, decades of suicidal thinking. A person can have suicidal thinking without being suicidal.
To anyone at the fork in the road, for the first time or the 100th, far be it from me to offer advice but I can provide support. Call 988 to talk with a mental health professional about what’s going on in your life. All I can say is, for me, I don’t choose. My choice is to not choose this way or that at the fork. I suppose I just hang out there, breathe, and write – or play a mindless game, or tweet, tribel, talk, tv; anything to distract. There are periods of my life where suicidal thinking just glances off my day and I don’t go down deep enough for suicidal thinking to overcome, wrap me up, forcing me to choose again. There is hope for less. Though, all of this is just this person’s experience.
3 thoughts on “Searching for Peace”
I feel like we are in the space where Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was after Chris Cornell made the decision to end his pain. As successful as Chris Cornell was, he couldn’t beat those demons that haunted his mind and neither could Chester, or Ashley. I miss Ashley too. We connected within the last couple months and she always had the most insightful, supportive comments. She was my first regular commenter that isn’t family. I have spent lots of time at that fork in the road like you have and it’s tough. My oldest son has spent time there too, with a couple attempts he only recently admitted to me. I keep staying alive for him, because I don’t want the world robbed of his kind, sweet heart and brilliant musical talents, So I stay alive for him. Some days it’s all good and some days it’s one hour, one minute at a time.
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Exactly, you capture so much, so well. I still ponder the pain of Chris Cornell & Chester Bennington. I’m right there with you. Ashley had an amazing ability to make so many of us readers feel like we had a friend re: blogging. I don’t know how she kept up w/all of us who looked forward to seeing her comment on ours. I miss her so much.
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Hugs to you both. I didn’t know Ashley and it seems like I truly missed out. I enjoy reading about your interactions with her and can tell she was a very special person.
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