Today has been incredibly hard for me. I went to visit a friend, they were drinking and taking medications to numb how they were thinking and feeling. I could accept their need to escape reality. I have done it myself, in the past, but I find, as a coping strategy it is simply short term. The long term effects can be so much worse for me and involve those around me. So while I understood the why of their behavior it just made me sad that I couldn’t reach them, that they were so disappointed in life and had so little hope that a slow insidious death was all that they believed was left to them. They may be breathing and talking but the comfort of hope was absent. It was like talking to the shell of who this person was.
I left, because I was unable to protect them from themselves. So all I could do was protect myself from them. It was not an easy decision to just walk away from someone who was so obviously drowning in their own misery but it was all I could do in the moment. I went home and less than three hours later they texted me and pretty much sent me a suicide goodbye note. It was horrific, every sentence like a stab to my heart. This person I cared about was preparing to die and thought it was okay to say goodbye to me, like I would do nothing to stop them, via a text.
I rang the crisis team, who advised I ring the police. Which I did and I told them everything I knew about the situation and the state my friend was in. I told them I was concerned for this person’s life and that I would not be able to sit with them like I did last week when they were recovering from an overdose. Then I sat with them all night, as much for me as for them because I didn’t want them alone in their pain. But this time I wanted mental health to step in, assess them and help them find their way to recovery. It was a task I was trying to achieve for myself and I sadly had very little left for anyone else
I don’t know what the police did but my friend just texted me and said they would forgive me for what I did. The question is can I forgive them? Can I be friends with someone who sees no future when I am in the process of fighting for my own? Can I risk all the work I, my husband, friends and counselor’s have invested in me? In helping me find my new path in this life. In the past it would be an easy answer. In my mind, they would have more value than me, of course I would stay and fight for them.
I would sacrifice what I needed to be there for them. But now I have learned that I have value, no more or less than any other person but my own value. I have friends that remind me of it constantly and a husband that loves me and wants me healthy again. So I can be there for this friend but no longer at my own expense. I have to learn to be there for me, as much as for any other person.
I have never disagreed with suicide. For myself I had rules around it. I would never involve some one else – for example, I will never walk in front of a train or a bus, because I consider the horrific costs for that person. But I also would never do what my friend did this afternoon and make someone through text, online or phone, be party to my suicide. For me, suicide is very intimate. Yes, in that moment of finality I care nothing for anyone but even then I would protect others from as much of my decision as I could.
Sadly, I have had to end this friendship for my own self protection. I recognise that I made so many mistakes in wanting to help them. Not least trying to help someone else when in the process of changing and fighting for my own life. But you can not save someone else from themselves. Just as I made the decision to live and with quality, they have to for themselves as well. I also felt the need to help, for the self – centered purpose of keeping my mind off of my own problems, although I did not realise this at the time.
It is never good to assume or accept responsibility for any aspect of another person’s life or you deprive them of the very motivation and strength they need to continue to thrive and not just survive. I have to learn to support and not take over. I have spent much of my life assuming responsibility for ‘things’ that were not mine. That has to stop. I am so sad that this friendship had to end but I am proud that for once I rationally made a decision that was right for me and hopefully, for them to.