A lady I know, her son suffered from terminal clinic depression – he passed away a few years ago. She still, to a degree, blames herself inasmuch as she can’t stop wondering what she could have done to prevent him dying.
I responded with this post (in the interests of confidentiality, I have changed her, and her son’s, names):
“Jane – it’s so difficult to say anything that can help you because it’s so personal, how you feel, your loss – there was, there is, one relationship here, it’s the one between you and Robert – even others who have lost children to mental illness, to depression, they can only ‘understand’ what you go through to a minimal extent because your relationship with Robert is so unique and personal.
Jane, your Robert, he didn’t die of suicide – he died of terminal, clinical depression – he no more died of suicide than someone with terminal cancer dies of cardiac arrest. Robert suffered from, and with, terminal depression and the final, fatal symptom was suicide. People with terminal cancer, the last, fatal, symptom of the cruel disease, cancer, is cardiac arrest, the heart stops. You have to believe this, Jane, you could no more have stopped your Robert succumbing to his depression than you can stop someone with terminal, stage 4 cancer eventually passing away. There was nothing you could do.
Jane, I take – I’ll always have to take – medication for depression (and for panic attacks) – if I come off the meds (as I once tried to do), I ‘fold’ – I can only get off the floor if you peel me off it. In 2001, I collapsed, went into cardiac arrest – no specific reason for it was ever found but I put it down to the cocktail of prescribed meds I was on, which included tricyclic antidepressants (which, I later discovered, can have a detrimental effect on the heart) – I also think, going by my mental, and physical, state/condition just prior to the collapse, I think that I, quite simply, gave up the will to live – just before my heart stopped, I had, to all intents and purposes, ground to a halt. I was like a zombie, numb – I was detached from everyone and everything around me – my wife (and, boy, did she suffer!!! – she said, when I came out of hospital, that when the docs eventually told her that I would survive, she looked at me in bed, in intensive care, and thought to herself that she had not seen me looking as calm as I was then, not seen me as calm for years) – my wife told me, after the ‘event’, that our toddler son, 2 years old, would run up to me and I was cold, no reaction whatsoever – nothing! She told me that she’d be sitting right in front of me, crying, wanting me to just put a hand on her, but nothing, no reaction – “the lights were on but no one was in”.
Jane, depression, cancer, diabetes, asthma, ALS, Parkinson’s, MS etc etc etc, they are illnesses/’conditions’ – there are no magic wands – there’s medication, there’s treatment for all of these conditions, sometimes they work, act as cures, sometimes they put a break on the advancement of the conditions, slow it down, sometimes they have no effect. You can’t, with your bear hands, pull a cancer patient, someone with last stage, stage 4, terminal cancer, you can’t drag him or her away from ‘the end’ – you know you can’t – nor were you able to, nor was it possible to, drag your Robert back from the end.
Don’t torture yourself, Jane! You are BLAMELESS! Robert was ill – he didn’t make a conscious, rational, clear-headed decision to end his life – he didn’t kill himself, he died, he simply passed away – suicide was a symptom of Robert’s depression.
You are in my heart! x “