Dear Sean

“Please don’t get weird and preach at me, I get enough of that, I just don’t know what to do about this and had to tell somebody.”

DEAR SEAN:

I know you usually write about good things, but I am pretty down and I don’t know what to do, I think about ending it all sometimes, but don’t know what to do about it. I have a wife and two young sons and dogs, and she [wife] really wants me to go to the doctor, but I hate doctors.

Please don’t get weird and preach at me, I get enough of that, I just don’t know what to do about this and had to tell somebody.

HELP

DEAR HELP:

I am terrified of doctors, too. I hate waiting rooms, needles, elevator music, blood-pressure cuffs, outdated issues of “Better Homes and Gardens,” the smell of rubbing alcohol, and god-awful fluorescent lighting.

When I was a boy, I disliked our family dentist so much that I would fake terminal diseases just to avoid him. My dentist was an old man who looked like Harry Caray and his breath smelled like a reclaimed water facility.

He smoked Winstons while he worked, and listened to Glenn Miller cassette tapes. To this day, I can’t hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra without developing a nicotine buzz.

One day, the old doc looked into my mouth, he was humming along with “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” breathing smoke directly into my face, and he told me that he was going to install a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth.

I got so scared that I almost Chattanooga-Choo-Chooed in my shorts.

He glued a piece of wire to my teeth with an industrial adhesive often used on commercial runways. When I left his office, I felt like somebody had constructed a Steinway inside my mouth.

But the wire didn’t last. It came loose after only a month. When the wire dislodged, it left behind huge globs of hardened glue on the backside of my teeth.

Now, I should have told the doctor about this, but because I am deathly afraid of all medical personnel, I never told anyone.

So for thirty years I had chunks of military-grade cement on my teeth.

Last year, I finally visited a dentist. The doc looked at my mouth and almost fainted.

“Hey,” he said. “There’s glue on your teeth!”

“Yeah.”

“How long’s it been there?”

“I don’t know, eight, maybe nine presidential administrations.”

“Well, let’s get to work,” he said, firing up a gasoline-powered angle grinder. “Do you like Glenn Miller?”

The funny thing is, the reason I hate going to doctors is because my father hated doctors even worse than I do.

The first thing you ought to know about my father is that he suffered from mental illness, which is a word I don’t often use. That word sounds like a doctor-ish word. It has stereotypes associated with it.

Folks hear “mental illness” and immediately think of homeless men, or serial killers played by Anthony Perkins. And this is unfair.

These sorts of generalizations aren’t fair to people with loved ones suffering from mental illness, or to those who actually suffer.

So for the purpose of this column, I’m not going to use that word. I will refer to my father’s particular form of illness as “sadness.”

My father was afflicted by severe sadness. Sometimes, I would find him curled on the floor, crying for no apparent reason.

Sometimes, when you spoke to him, you weren’t sure if you were having a conversation with him, or the sadness. He would sit alone for an entire day, staring at nothing until he fell asleep.

Some kinds of sadness can be just as crippling as multiple sclerosis.

People tried to get my father help, but he ignored them. The idea of going to a shrink repulsed him. He was a man who wouldn’t even take aspirin.

He was a man who often told people, “I’d rather be dead than let a damn doctor look at my head.”

And one day, he got his wish.

Make no mistake, it was the sadness that killed him. All he did was pull the trigger.

And on one ordinary afternoon, he left this world, destroying my life, and lots of other lives, too. And it has taken a lifetime to rebuild what he tore down.

Suicide is not victimless. Suicide is one domino falling and knocking down miles of other dominoes that stand behind it.

My father didn’t think about that, I guess. Maybe his sadness became too dense. Maybe it had multiplied like cancer until he lost his grip.

Either way, in the end it was the sadness that won. And my father killed one of the prettiest things God ever made.

Friend, I am no advice giver. In fact, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t blame you for ignoring this crummy letter. After all, who am I to tell you anything? Nobody, that’s who. I’m just a guy with glue on his teeth.

But before I go, I’d like to leave you with words I wish I could have said to my father before all hell broke loose and we lost him:

Think of all the dominoes behind you.

Please, Daddy. Go to the doctor.

62 comments

  1. ccgoesdutch - July 15, 2019 6:34 am

    brilliant again Sean and one of the many reasons we love you. all the best from John van Peelen and Carol Cosper in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

    Reply
  2. Barbara Ross - July 15, 2019 6:59 am

    Oh my. One can only hope that “Help” listens to you. He is only thinking about how he feels, as most of us do, and not thinking about all.those around him who will become victims if he harms himself. Please, Daddy. Go to the doctor — if not for yourself, then for all of those around you who would have a big hole where you used to be, and have no idea how to fill it. You would only transfer your pain to them and surely you don’t want to do that. 💕💔

    Reply
  3. W. Gary Smith - July 15, 2019 7:24 am

    Sean, successfully combining the light side of a situation and your experiences with your Dad with the seriousness of one of the most dreadful disease of today takes a God given talent. It also reveals that while you will always be one of the “dominos” of how your Dad eventually ended his “sadness” it also shows how you have learned to discuss his sickness and the pain it caused you.
    I am speaking personally and for a long line of family members that have bean afflicted with depression, anxiety and other forms of mental Illness. It has been swept under the carpet and carried a stigma of weakness for too long. It has been proven to be influenced by heredity, physical and social traits.
    Admitting the problem and asking for advice and help is the hardest but utmost important step to take.
    “Help” has done that and I hope and pray that you sharing your story and the advice will influence him to seek the help he needs.

    Reply
  4. Steve - July 15, 2019 9:51 am

    This is a topic I am well familiar with. I know exactly what a gun barrel taste like. When someone is suicidal, their brain is lying to them. It’s portraying a false narrative of hopelessness; and emotional agony that I just don’t have the words to explain. Sean, you’re right to blame the sadness. The sadness believed that distorted reality with every fiber. He was incapable of understanding the domino effect, probably thought he was doing everybody a favor. To the follower who originally wrote the note: your brain is lying to you. See a Doctor. Fix the sadness and the suicidal thoughts will go away. I’m LIVING proof of that. Take care my friend, their are brighter days ahead.

    Reply
    • Eleanor Rittenour - August 14, 2019 3:28 pm

      Thank you for sharing. I would think advice from someone who has walk in that dark place might better be heard by someone there presently.

      Reply
  5. Karen - July 15, 2019 10:47 am

    You have written an exquisite piece that must have taken all you had. There are no words to thank you enough.

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth - July 15, 2019 10:49 am

    Wow! Thank you!

    Reply
  7. GaryD - July 15, 2019 11:05 am

    Powerful message this morning 🙏

    Reply
  8. Janet Hicks - July 15, 2019 11:08 am

    This is one of your best messages ever. Well said!!!

    Reply
  9. Brenda McLaine - July 15, 2019 11:42 am

    I was in one of those dark places twice in my life. A most horrible place to be. Feels like there’s a hole in the pit of your stomach along with the helpless feeling. The only thing that saved me was my two young children and thinking what kind of effect it would have on them. I got on medication and fought that devil within my mind and started feeling better. Please “Help” get some help. Love you Sean.

    Reply
  10. Camille - July 15, 2019 11:57 am

    Sean, you are a doctor as well as a writer. No shrink could have said it better to “Help.”

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  11. Joe Patterson - July 15, 2019 12:17 pm

    Thanks again so true

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  12. turtlekid - July 15, 2019 12:21 pm

    I have wondered why your dad chose to end his life, but now I understand. Terminal Sadness. I have experienced it, never knew it had a name, but after years of crying, i went to a doctor. Wow. Never knew there was a pill to help you laugh again. It did make me laugh. First laugh in years was when I passed a dumpster on a street that I often drove by, but someone had spray painted words on it that stay with me to this day. “Lonnie’s Lunch Box”. It was powerful, and began a long journey to reality. Yes, to to a doctor!

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  13. Margaret Cade - July 15, 2019 12:22 pm

    Beautiful response. As a retired nurse, I can tell “Help”, that medication doesn’t hurt a bit. I want him to fall in love with life again, take care of his wife and dogs, and be there for his sons to help them grow up to be men who will love life also. God bless you, “Help”. Please, see a doctor.

    Reply
  14. Karen - July 15, 2019 12:33 pm

    Mental illness is the same as cancer, heart problems or any other diseases, and has to be treated by professionals and God. I have learned this in life’s walk. Praying for you friend.

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  15. paula jones - July 15, 2019 12:34 pm

    “Suicide is not victimless. Suicide is one domino falling and knocking down miles of other dominoes that stand behind it.” YES! My sister’s fiancé took his own life in 1973 and she has never recovered from it. She went from being a positive, encouraging, funny woman to a woman stuck in the mire of sadness herself. Nearly 50 years later, she still struggles with his suicide, I miss who she was. The children she later had have never known their mother at her best. They were raised in a home filled with sadness. The dominoes analogy is absolutely perfect.

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  16. Shelton A. - July 15, 2019 12:48 pm

    Well written and said. Hope ‘Help’ goes and gets some real help now.

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  17. LaVera S. - July 15, 2019 12:51 pm

    Well said! Thanks for talking with this father, husband, son, friend, man who needs help.

    Reply
  18. Barbara Knight - July 15, 2019 1:05 pm

    I’ve been there and the pain is unbearable. I was lucky that others got me help. To this day I’m so grateful they did because I’ve avoided that place of despair. I never want to go back. Getting help worked for me and it can for you. Just take that first step and you’ll be given a chance to see clearly a beautiful life that’s been hidden from you by dark clouds. Your whole family will be so much better for you being the best you can be.
    Your family needs you and life can be good if you get that help.

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  19. Keloth Anne - July 15, 2019 1:12 pm

    What powerful words ♥️😢

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  20. Patricia Pope - July 15, 2019 1:35 pm

    Awesome answer, dear Sean! Better than the medical doctor and preacher combined! You teach people to LOVE! Many thank you’s💖

    Reply
  21. Arelene Mack - July 15, 2019 1:39 pm

    “Suicide is not victimless. Suicide is one domino falling and knocking down miles of other dominoes that stand behind it.” Well-said and so very true. To my beautiful, beloved, tender-hearted 15-year-old son who committed suicide – Russell Brian Mack – Rest in peace, son, until I can hold you in my arms again. July 26, 1981 to March 14, 1997. Mama Mack

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  22. Mary - July 15, 2019 2:02 pm

    Sean, I’m one of those dominoes having married a man whose mother was “sad” enough to take her life when he was 18. She was too “sad” to realize the hurt and pain she inflicted on her children and now the dominoes extend down to her great-grandchildren that she never knew. Please, “Help,” reach out and grab onto HOPE! Too many dominoes out there that love you!

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  23. Phil S, Montgomery, AL - July 15, 2019 2:06 pm

    Dear Help,
    If you are reading all these messages, and I hope you are, you can see that Sean has gathered a whole new group of loving friends that care about you and are pulling for you. Many have poured out their hearts to you, and that says so much. I have personally said a prayer for you, and I bet these other good folks have as well.

    Reply
  24. Bobby - July 15, 2019 2:18 pm

    A great post. Should be shared directly, or indirectly, with anyone suffering alone from severe depression.

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  25. Connie Havard Ryland - July 15, 2019 2:21 pm

    Sean, you take your pain and help others heal. There is no better way to use your life. God bless “Help”. Please, see a doctor. Don’t inflict your pain on your family. They may not recover from it, and terminal sadness will live in them.

    Reply
  26. Patricia Harris - July 15, 2019 2:31 pm

    I’m so sorry, Sean. This was a fantastic column. I’m sure it will save more lives than you know. Pat

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  27. Dot Wells - July 15, 2019 2:45 pm

    Oh Sean my heart goes out to this person. You are helping more people understand “sadness” feelings. I pray they go to the doctor. I love you Sean! I feel my day is not complete until I read your column! God bless you!!

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  28. Debbie Drew - July 15, 2019 2:53 pm

    From one domino to another – thank you, Sean. May God continue to bless you and keep you and give you peace.

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  29. Johnny - July 15, 2019 3:20 pm

    Sean, you have more powerful medicine (words) than you may realize. You are making a difference in people’s lives. You are the guy in James Taylor’s classic song, “You’ve Got a Friend.”

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  30. Linda Moon - July 15, 2019 3:35 pm

    I have no words. Simply, no words. It hits too close to home. Except for these few I just thought of: Sean, you are one of the prettiest dominoes that God ever made. I’m sorry you had to fall.

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  31. Toni Sullivan - July 15, 2019 3:52 pm

    From all I’ve read it’s my very humble opinion that people suicide because they are very, very angry at someone, something and sometimes that thing is such a toxic phenomenon that they dare not put a name to it-much less give it an identity. Fear plays a real integral part of this process. This is just my layman’s opinion.

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  32. Bobbie - July 15, 2019 4:08 pm

    Have to put in my two cents. I was there myself many years ago. Am still on anti depressants. And it’s ok! I was made to think back then that sadness and depression was a choice…a sign of weakness. But that was a lie. I pray “Help” will heed your advice Sean…only those who have been there in one way or another can truly understand the far reaching and devastating effects of suicide. His boys, his wife and friends deserve better…he deserves better. Will be praying he hears these pleas from total strangers…there are people who care for him. God cares deeply.
    Thank you again Sean. God has blessed you with a beautiful soul.

    Reply
  33. Kathy - July 15, 2019 4:12 pm

    This hit home. My father was an alcoholic manic depressive, known in today’s world of euphemisms as Bi-Polar. Brilliant, a voracious reader, a charmer of all ladies, but also possessed of a brain tumor. “No doctor is going to cut on my head!” And no doctor did. And he died.

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  34. MONTY BALLARD - July 15, 2019 4:36 pm

    Excellent.
    Thank yoiu

    Reply
  35. Sharon Allemang - July 15, 2019 5:26 pm

    This was one of the best answers you have written.. I hope everyone coping with “Sadness” / mental illness reads your answer!! I worked in mental health, and wonder how many suicides might be prevented if they knew the dominos/ victims they leave behind!! Pain of sadness is awful. I know personally!! However suicide is a selfish act as the person doing it leaves the scene & their pain, but the ones left behind are affected for the rest of their lives!!!!

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  36. throughmyeyesusa - July 15, 2019 5:30 pm

    I liken “The Sadness” to skating around the edges of a huge hole in the ice on a frozen lake, never knowing when the ice might give way and send you plunging into blackness. No control, just hopeless fear.

    Depression is very similar to diabetes; precisely as ‘shameful’ a condition, (neither is!). Like diabetes, it’s also the result of a chemical “error” in the body, and it’s equally controllable. That is to say, depression is not at all shameful and can be medically controlled. Like diabetes, it results, not from a defect of character, but from the body missing something it needs: insulin, in diabetes, serotonin, norepinephrine or the like in depression.

    You would think the above explanation would have made sense to a Baptist preacher, my “best friend” and others in that congregation, wouldn’t you? It didn’t. Medication saved me, not the support of my church “family”. Thank you, Gethsemane Baptist in Glenelg, Tim, Gay, Phil . . . . I’m doing just fine; much better than fine, actually.

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  37. Rose - July 15, 2019 6:30 pm

    Sean, “dominoes” is exactly the analogy I used when I was told my son shot and killed himself five years ago. It has destroyed me and now I need “help” for prolonged grief disorder, depression and possibly PTSD. It has destroyed my other two children with unresolved anger resulting in our relationship with each other being damaged forever. It has destroyed his two children who were 18 and 22 at the time.

    Suicide is not an answer to a problem it is a whole new set of problems. It does not take one life. It takes many lives. Problem is those lives had no say in that decision.

    I will certainly be praying for the reader that needs “Help”.

    Thank you for printing this and thank you for your answer.

    Reply
  38. Carolyn - July 15, 2019 6:35 pm

    After reading this post and then reading the the comments I felt compelled to add something for readers who are depressed to consider. I’ve been a pretty stable person all my life but never a good sleeper. Slowly depression took me over a few years ago. I lost all desire to do the things I had always loved to do. All I wanted to do is sit in my recliner and stare out the window. I lost the desire to live. To make a long story short, through circumstances, I found out what was making a stable person unstable. It was a drug I was taking to help me sleep….Ambien‼️ It took me a long time to connect the dots because I had taken it for several years without any bad side effects. But when things started happening, like a crazy head, tight chest, etc I never considered that it could be Ambien. When I stopped taking it I slowly got my life back…and my desire to live. If I had not discovered what was causing my depression I honesty don’t think I would be here today because it was only getting worse. So I tell my story in hopes that it might help someone else. Educate yourself on the side effects of any drug you my be taking. Thank God for drugs that do help with
    “sadness” but just be sure that what you’re taking for something else is not causing your “sadness”.
    Thanks, Sean, for one of your best evers!

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  39. Susan McCall - July 15, 2019 6:40 pm

    Wise words, gracefully said.

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  40. Joy T Lane - July 15, 2019 7:55 pm

    I almost lost my momma to “sadness”. Thank God my aunt forgot something important she went back to our house and found my momma before it was too late. My mother had sent me to spend time with my oldest brother. She planned to end her life. I was 12. I spent many years trying to understand why. She spent months in the hospital. She has been battling sadness for years. Some years are better than others. The answer she gave me as to “why”, her disease convinced her that her loved ones were better off without her. I could never be better without my momma. Please sir, go to the doctor .

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  41. Dianne - July 15, 2019 8:47 pm

    What a wonderful thing to share with this young father, Sean. I hope and pray he will take your advice and go to the doctor. He has too many wonderful and beautiful dominoes to knock down. Bless you!

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  42. Nora Klunk - July 15, 2019 9:04 pm

    Excellent reply to this letter. My momma was bipolar, schizophrenic and suffered with deep depression. This is a very serious condition. There’s no shame in getting the help you need and we all need a little help no and then.
    Thank you for your caring words of encouragement to the person.

    Reply
  43. That's jack - July 15, 2019 9:43 pm

    Sounds like good advice to me, also solid reasons. I might go to a doctor if someone had filled my mouth with glue.
    Anyway, good one dude,
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  44. Sharon Lawson - July 15, 2019 10:01 pm

    Thank you for bringing the sadness out in the open.

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  45. Frieda Borntrager - July 15, 2019 10:16 pm

    Brilliant! What a great piece! Thank you.

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  46. Leelee - July 15, 2019 10:29 pm

    Brilliant as always. I’m a therapist with a PhD and I couldn’t have said it better.

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  47. Jeff - July 15, 2019 10:38 pm

    I’m one of the dominos. My father, of Dothan, AL. committed suicide when I was 24. I am now 73 and must confess that I’m reading today’s column with tears in my eyes. You never really get over it! Keep up the good work.

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  48. Gayle - July 15, 2019 10:46 pm

    Great advice, Sean!!! “Sadness” affects so many more people than just the one who is going through it! Some families never recover!!! Thank you for your wonderful article!!!

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  49. Martha Black - July 15, 2019 10:52 pm

    I often wonder if people consider taking their lives realize that theyre not leaving their familys behind. The family will still be on this trip. When you exit, “you” “stay” behind amd miss out on the rest of the trip and all it brings. The trip ahead will be different and harder and devoid of your needed contribution & navigation for your family. They will forever wonder & question why what happened, happened. If you have questions or don’t understand why you feel how you feel and cannot cope: There are those who will help if you will allow. It would be the better choice for you & those who love you. Don’t short change yourself or your family & friends who will have to pick up the slack. You have a place, a spot, a purpose in this trip but nobody navigates it alone.

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  50. Lea A Bedsole - July 15, 2019 11:12 pm

    Wow….your words were perfect.

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  51. Carol Horton - July 16, 2019 3:52 am

    Dear HELP,

    You may think that suicide is the only way to end the pain. But it will only end YOU. The pain lives on. It lives on in the people who love you and are left behind.

    You may think you’re doing them a favor, that they’d be better off without you around. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    There are better alternatives, but you have to seek them out. Please find someone who can help you get rid of the pain and the sadness so you can share the joys of life with your family and friends.

    I nearly lost a good friend almost 15 years ago. I think of all the joy he would have missed had his suicide attempt been successful especially seeing his young children grow into happy, healthy adults.

    Please get some help so you can find some hope.

    I love you my brother.

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  52. Lynn Reese - July 16, 2019 11:49 am

    😢

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  53. Joe Vanden Heuvel - July 16, 2019 2:30 pm

    That was tremendous Sean! Thank you, even though I didn’t need today’s advice.

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  54. Janet Mary Lee - July 16, 2019 6:23 pm

    I have been a domino knocked over by someone who never got help. We never get over it. My mother did not commit suicide, but it took her another 40 years to die, alone. That is how she wanted it. In the meantime, I grew up without a lot of love and guidance for me, and my family to be. We have survived. But what could have been that we all lost was heartbreaking to this day. The survivors pay dearly. Get that help. I did. Only the first step is the hardest!! Do not leave dominos!! We are all pulling for you!! Sean…wow!!

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  55. Estelle - July 16, 2019 7:13 pm

    I have no wise words to add to what you have written. When someone tells you to cheer up I wanted to stick a roll of dirty socks down their throat. I have chronic depression. I will take medication for it for the rest of my life. But I am thankful. When I was suffering thru this time, medication had just been discovered to help me. This was over 50 years ago. Get help‼️ Life can be better. But it’s you who have to take the first step. The first one is the hardest. I am praying for you. TAKE THAT FIRST STEP.

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  56. Phyllis F Stallings - July 17, 2019 1:51 am

    Dear Sean, thank you for your words of wisdom. I personally have chronic depression and after 20 years finally diagnosed with bi-polar also. Maybe my sadness started from an abusive father or maybe it’s a chemical imbalance. I’m not sure. I’ve always felt ashamed of the illness and the stigma that goes with it. However, I did go get help and I’m alive today because of going. My brother, also abused, took his life and you’re right about the domino effect. His daughter and all us siblings have suffered from his loss. I’m just so glad you told your friend to see a doctor. They won’t put cement in your mouth .

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  57. Gaynell Lumsden - July 17, 2019 10:29 pm

    Sean you are.a very wise man. I just love you.

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  58. Charlotte - August 12, 2019 8:28 am

    Sean, like you, I lost my father to the same sadness. In fact, coincidentally, it happened 28 years ago TODAY. I remember it as clearly as I remember yesterday, and the idea that it’s actually been that long seems impossible. You and I belong to a survivor’s club that absolutely NOBODY wants to belong to. Unfortunately, our membership dues are paid by someone we love and we have no choice in joining.

    If I could talk to this man I would tell him that I understand much of what he’s feeling because I also suffer from clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder. (Evidently it runs in my family as I have siblings and several cousins who do battle with it too.) I would tell this man that if he truly loves his wife and his sons he would never put them through the hell they will face if he ends his life. His pain and misery will end, but theirs will just be beginning– and he will be the one who put them there. I would like to tell him about what I saw when my dad shot himself, the horror of standing there watching him die in the emergency room. Of the ambulance driver washing the blood off the floor as I drove up st the hospital. I can still hear my mom and sister screaming when the cop told us they’d found him and what he’d done. Still see the glazed expression in my husband’s eyes when he finally got to me. He had been there and saw it happen, had tried to stop it but couldn’t, and he had gone into shock himself. I’ll never forget what I sponged off the front of his shirt where he’d been cradling Daddy until help got there. I’ll always remember how surreal it was, seeing my dad in a casket, all dressed up in a suit, with his hands ice cold as I stroked them. For 28 years I’ve thought of how many things I’ve wished my father could have been here to see. Our then-4-yr old daughter just graduated from college last May, but he wasn’t there to see it. She got her teacher’s license last Friday, but her Papa couldn’t congratulate her. My niece, his youngest grandbaby got married recently in a beautiful wedding by the ocean in Washington. Her Papa should have been there to dance with her…but he wasn’t. He missed our daughter’s wedding 10 years ago. His two great-grandchildren are in high school, but he didn’t see them be born or grow up. So many things, and each time he’s not there for a family milestone it cuts my heart to ribbons. My brothers and sister and I are so messed up because of this, it’s like our family imploded as we all tried to survive the agony of his suicide in whatever way we could. I measure all the events in my life not so much by dates as by BIH or AIH– Before It Happened or After It Happened. Sound familiar?

    Eventually, my own depression got so bad that it scared me. I cried all the way to see my doctor and again all the way home. I felt broken, defective, weak. But I’d seen, up close and in ghastly detail, exactly where that road of despair goes, and I swore I would never do to my little girl what was done to me. So I got some medical help even though it took all I could do to force myself to go. My pride was telling me that I was admitting I was weak, that I wasn’t strong enough to fix myself. But you know what? Once the antidepressants started working I realized something. It wasn’t weak to get help! WEAK would have been letting the darkness take over and not trying to fight. It took COURAGE to let go of my misplaced pride and fight back! It would have been a lot easier to just give in, because frankly, I didn’t really care what happened to me. But I couldn’t– knew too much! And I DID care what happened to my little girl! I know my dad thought he was a burden to us (he wasn’t), and he actuality thought, in his confused mind, that he was doing us all a favor. Instead, he put us into a never ending torture, one that can come back full force at the thought of him, the smell of someone wearing his favorite aftershave, seeing someone that resembles him across a parking lot. It’s a million little things and it never ends. Neither do the questions– Didn’t he know we loved him? Why didn’t he tell us what he was feeling? How could he hurt us so much? Didn’t he WANT to be with us anymore? Why, why, why?? It’s psychological misery. I don’t have to tell you, Sean, that you never “get over it”, you never fully recover. You just learn to live with it. I’ve forgiven him, but the pain never totally goes away. I know it hasn’t for you either, my friend, because I can hear it in your words when you write about your own experience.

    I wish I could tell your letter writer all this, and how his sons will be scarred forever if he does it. Not to mention how it makes it an option for THEM to do the same thing. I’d tell him to look up the statistics about kids of suicides committing suicide themselves! And then I would beg him to PLEASE, PLEASE go see a doctor. He’s not crazy, he’s just SICK. His body isn’t absorbing serotonin the way it should, that’s all. Just like a diabetic needs insulin, we folks with depression sometimes need medicine to level us out. He doesn’t have to feel like this, it’s not his fault, and he’s done nothing wrong, his body just isn’t processing his “feel good” hormones right. Depression is fixable, suicide isn’t! And if I could tell him one last thing it would be to get help, if not for himself, then for his kids, and his wife, and all the people that love him. If a criminal broke in and tried to hurt his family he would fight tooth and nail to protect them. Well, depression and messed up thinking are trying to hurt them terribly, trying to destroy the world as they know it and totally screw up their future. He needs to love them enough to do whatever he needs to do to feel like himself again, to defeat this darkness that will hurt THEM much more that him. That’s what I’d tell him. It’s not nearly as good as what you wrote, but hopefully he’d understand my message.

    Reply
    • Carol Horton - August 12, 2019 7:08 pm

      Wow, Charlotte. That was powerful. I’m so sorry you and your family had (and still have) to endure all that. How caring of you to be so open about it. It’s past time for this issue to be out in the open and discussed. God bless you and your family.

      Reply
  59. Gale Smith - August 12, 2019 12:29 pm

    This was your best one, Sean. Powerful.

    Reply
  60. Caleb Halstead - August 12, 2019 1:23 pm

    This “sadness” has taken two members of our family. Your insight in this post has further unlocked doors and offered understanding that have been closed and unavailable for over fifty years. Thank you, Sean.

    Reply

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