The Laughter Assignment (Or When Sort Of Has to be Enough)

So… I blogged a few days ago about the song 1-800-273-8255 by Logic, and the fact that my friend M has been seriously suicidal for weeks now.  The dirty, low down truth is that I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts myself for much of the past two weeks.  Not active, I’ve-got-a-plan thoughts.  Just passive, -what-is-the-point-of-my-god-forsaken-life thoughts.  I shared this with my therapist this past Monday in our session.  She wasn’t exactly stunned – it’s something I’ve struggled with on and off since losing E.

Here’s the thing I told my therapist, A.  I get up every day.  I shower, put on my big girl panties (or jeans – my uniform), check my Cozi (family calendar) and SHOW UP.  I do the things I’m supposed to do, every day.  I go to appointments, volunteer, make dinner, do laundry.  I occasionally even clean my house.  I try to work out once in a great while. As a recovering addict, I try and be of service to other addicts.  I am living my life.  But I don’t feel like I am living a life worth living.

So A reminds me that I am living for my daughter, N.  I say… well, sort of.  She reminds me that I want to go back to school.  I shrug, “sort of.”  She reminds me that I am working on my memoir and I halfheartedly murmur “sort of”…  I am sort of living for all of these things.  And I sort of wish all these things would just go away so that I had an excuse to well, you know, NOT be living for these things.  But A’s challenge back to me is that SORT OF is enough.  Sort of writing a memoir is a lot more writing than a lot of people ever do in their life time, even though they may pine to be a writer their whole lives.  Sort of living for my (albeit difficult) teenager is a lot more profound when I remember that I am lucky enough to have a living child.  And sort of planning to go back to school in three years can be the beginning of a pretty solid foundation considering I now have three whole years to plan my educational career, and maybe even get an odd class or two in in the interim.  Yeah, point taken, I guess sort of is a hell of a long way from not-at-all.

But the truth is that I am exhausted right now in my recovery, and in my life.  Staying clean, and parenting a challenging teenager on top of it, is all but sucking the life out of me physically and emotionally.  I have received a lot of discouraging news lately and people around me are depressed and struggling.  Life feels bleak.

So to rub salt in the wound, my ever-chipper therapist has decided to give me a happiness assignment.  Her challenge to me: find one thing a day that makes you laugh. ONE THING.  “Can I count the fact that you are giving me this assignment?”  I thought caustically.  Of course, I received the assignment on Monday, and so far, I’ve failed two out of the three days since.  But I’m trying, A, I’m trying.  I swear.  Yesterday, it was the fact that I informed N that Jojo (our dog) seemed to be enjoying his own testicle sweat as his breakfast of choice.  Hey, you had to be there.

In the mean time, I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that Sort Of is good enough.  I’m staying in touch with friends, and being honest with a very chosen one or two about how deeply I am struggling.  I am listening to the Logic song a lot.  It helps.   Maybe for now I’ll go watch some stupid youtube videos.

Pain don’t hurt the same, I know
The lane I travel feels alone
But I’m moving ’til my legs give out
And I see my tears melt in the snow…



1-800-273-8255 (And the Right to Die)

This song has been playing on my radio station of choice pretty much hourly lately.  It’s hit home.  Not only because my mood has been low due to this month being the one year anniversary of E’s death, but because of another emerging situation.

I haven’t had any significant love interests of note since I lost E last year. That is until recently.  But a month or two ago, I had a text conversation with a close friend of mine – we’ll call her “M” – in which we both revealed that we had romantic leanings towards the other.  My heart be still.  I haven’t let myself really feel anything like this in 10 months – so this should be something to celebrate, right?  But hold the damn phone, it’s not so simple.  See M and I met, in of all places, the psych ward.  And the reason M was in the psych ward is because she struggles with multiple issues – like depression, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, etc, etc.  Like me.  We’re peas in a pod, and get each other so, so well.

But for all the benefits of this fast and steady, amazingly supportive friendship, there is the downside.  M is pretty much always in pain, and 75% of the time suicidal from said pain and trauma.  Clearly, she is not at a space to be jumping in to a relationship.  Hell, most of the time we have trouble making plans simply to hang out and maintain our friendship.

Cue the last two weeks.  A pretty major incident has happened in M’s life (her pain Dr. went off the deep end and cut her off of all her pain meds – loooong story) and it’s left her more suicidal than ever.  There is very little hope left in M’s life.  Her pain condition is degenerative, and without pain meds, her quality of life will be in the crapper.  Insurance leaves her little alternative to switch docs.  She’s quickly running out of options, and there are no alternative treatments.

I’ve spent many hours discussing with her WHY she is suicidal.  And here’s the thing… I GET IT.  I get why after 20 plus years of constant and excruciating pain and trauma, with nothing but the promise of more to come, she’s ready to be done.  And I feel like a selfish prick begging her to continue on for my sake, or even the sake of her family or others in her life that love her.

I get very tangled up in the thorny barbs of confusion in my head as to how and why I am supposed to argue with her to continue on in the hopes that things will get better.  Intellectually I know there is still a lot of quality of life that COULD happen, but I also know that pain, depression, and trauma are exhausting, and that she has a lion’s share to overcome.  And having been there myself, having been in the position of arguing with my own partner to simply let me go because the choice SHOULD be mine, and the pain was simply too unbearable to endure, I can’t say there aren’t still days that I wish she would have let me go.  Brutal, but it’s the honest truth.

The right to die is a touchy subject when it comes to mental health and suicide.  It seems more cut and dried when it’s cancer or some other terminal condition, but when it’s depression or some such long suffering mental health condition, we post pictures of long-winding woodland paths with captions like “THIS is an anti-depressant” and tell people to take hot baths and suck it up.  We are such a judgemental, head-in-the-sand society when it comes to emotional health.

The truth is, I don’t want to lose M.  But that’s about ME.  In the end, it’s her choice, and I know it.  When I talk to her about it, I try and let her know that I love her, I support her, I believe there is hope, I am always here to listen and help her find that hope if that’s what she’s looking for… and otherwise I’m simply there to listen and hold her.  I never try to blow sunshine up her ass or promise everything is going to be OK.  And I tell her that I believe she deserves relief from her pain, even though I know that comes dangerously close to sounding like tacit approval to commit suicide.  She does deserve relief, and my hope is always that she can find it in my listening ears and my open arms of support.  God help me if she ever seeks it out the other way.  I don’t know what I will do without her.  But in the end, only she knows what she needs to do for herself.  Only she can decide how long and how much she can endure, and when enough is finally enough. I’m simply praying every day that’s it’s not today.

But in the mean time, I hope this song gets lots of radio play for awhile.  I hope one or two or a dozen people find some hope in it.  Maybe it won’t help M, but maybe it can help someone else.  It’s helped me this week, as I’ve struggled with my own dark thoughts.  God bless Logic for writing it.  And to whomever answers the phone, thank you for trying to save a life. ❤