Have you ever looked your mother in the eyes and told her you’ve been thinking of harming yourself? Worse, have you ever looked her in her eyes and told her you’ve recently had such thoughts, just after she received news of someone else attempting? I have, I just did.
I saw her eyes fill slowly, whites shifting to a shade of pink. The three inches I have over her suddenly felt mountainous, as though I towered over her smaller figure. “But why?”, she asked. My nervous laughter chose a horrible time to spark. Tears welled in my eyes seeing her so upset, me being the cause. Trying to pull myself together, but cracking, as a combination of crying and laughing broke through my surface. Normally this combination emotes a joyous moment. Yet here, I was vocalizing a pain I rarely say aloud, while being crippled by a nervous feeling of what will happen as these words leave my lips.
My family isn’t one for therapy. It’s ironic, as we have a PhD in Psychology in our mix. Yet, when therapy is mentioned, something must be critical. My mom grows bewildered as I say I am looking for a therapist. In part due to confusion, partially out of fear that vocalizing my truths will get me sent somewhere. I tell her the height has passed, but that the thoughts seep through my day-to-day, making me grow numb, or sparking dark, negative self-talk and toxic comparison during time alone with my thoughts, or in calming practices, such as meditation.
I watch her listen carefully, still trying to find the right words to say as I know she is slower in choosing her words when referencing my being gay. Ensuring she is using the proper pronouns when referencing an ex or person of my past, which defies the way she would talk with my siblings.
I tell her the thoughts which have gone through my head, some occurrences which provoked the spiral. The support I’ve received from my friends, but the weight of the cloud over my head. The triggered reactions from pains of my past, and the fear I’ve felt from my own thoughts. She asks me to promise to call her when I feel such a way again. I tell her it’s hard for me to make such a promise, when saying these words even in past tense is a struggle for me. Knowing the burden I’d place on another, on a mother, when someone, her child, vocalizes such jarring, frightening words. She tells me she would rather be there for me, to talk to, then for anything to happen. Repeating a common phrase “I just don’t know what I’d do if anything were to happen to you or your sister”.
Our conversation continues, I promise her at least three more times I will be more open in talking to both her and my sister. She tells me no one and nothing is worth ending my life, for something better will always be around the corner. I respond with “I know, I’ve read plenty of firsthand accounts, but sometimes my mind can spiral down a dark, slippery slope, so intense, when I read the next morning what I wrote the night before in the height of thoughts rushing through my mind, I am often surprised and afraid of what I’ve written”.
The next morning she holds me tightly, giving me a look with her eyes in which to say “promise me, this is not the last time I will see you”, my eyes smile lightly as if to say “I promise”. She kisses my cheek and makes a point to say “I love you”, and I respond with “I love you too”.
If you’ve never looked your mother in her eyes and told her you’ve thought, or have attempted, to end your life, and watched the pain rush through her body, her eyes, as she imagines the moment of being told you’ve died, you’re no longer in her life, remind yourself of the relief which will wash over her as she comes to terms with the fact that you are still here, before her. Remember, no matter how dark your mind may become, or heavy it may grow, it is better to bare the deepest truths to those you love, who love you and ask for help. Not everyone can be your soundboard, but they can encourage your search for someone to talk to, for it is better to be honest, vulnerable, sharing the chaos in your mind regardless of the reaction you may witness, because the reaction of you being gone would be far worse.