When I was 17 my sister and I went over to my father’s house for dinner – as we often did in those days – and as we sat in the living room my father turned to me and said “when was the last time you thought about suicide?”
And I was so stunned by the question that I answered truthfully. It had been the year before.
When I was 16 I decided that I would kill myself, but I wanted to see the Ottawa 67’s win a Memorial Cup first.
To this day I don’t know how he knew. Maybe he had talked to my mother, maybe he had dealt with students and saw in me what he saw in them. I don’t know how he knew, but he asked, and I answered, and he made me tell me mother and then I had to tell my family doctor and then I got medicated.
And by the time the 67’s did win the Memorial Cup when I was 18 I didn’t want to die any more. (If you wonder why I have a Hockey Canada logo tattooed on my back, it’s because hockey meant a lot in my life. It saved my life).
I have, however, wanted to die since. I’d guess three or four times in the ensuing 18 years. Stressors, being on the wrong medication, other triggers.
I remember vividly when I started dating Joe I was not on anti-depressants. We went out one night, he dropped me at home, and as I closed the door the annoying, lying voice in my head said to me ‘Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever see him.’
And so I went back on the medication, and then I told him, crying, assuming that he’d cut and run because I am so screwed up. But he didn’t.
(Surprise – he never has. Not even when I tried to give him back his engagement ring so he could lead a happier life without me. Not even when I had such bad PPD that I was scared to leave the house with the baby).
Right now I am in a bad place. Things have not been going smoothly recently and my mental health has suffered. I have slipped. But I don’t want to die. Not even a little. You see, I have this amazing little girl and she’s going to grow up and be great and I want to see that.
The good news is that in the second half of my life I have learned all of my signs and symbols that tell me I’m going down a bad road. And since I learned them, Joe knows them too. I can list them off, he can see them. Right now they’re waving at me from across the street.
But I can’t stay in bed all day, the kid has to get to the school bus and there’s work to be done. People are counting on me. I can’t not eat, Joe cooks dinner and sits me down at the table. And at the beginning and end of everyday there is this little girl who smiles and hugs me and tells me she loves me, and I would do anything for her. Even if that’s just pushing through the muck.
Am I still here because one night at dinner my father decided to ask me when was the last time I had considered suicide? I don’t know. But maybe.