My Burning Question

My burning question.

I have many burning questions in my mind since you took your life Kaitlyn. So very, very many. But the one burning question I have in my mind and heart right now is how someone so accomplished could take their own life?

Yes, I know of the many gifted, creative, intelligent well known people of the past that have committed suicide, like Hemingway (he and his daughter), Van Gogh, Virginia Wolfe, Sylvia Plath, and Lucy Maud Montgomery and that’s just to name a few. But the difference is Kaitlyn that though these people were gifted in many ways, their depression and their mental anguish became obvious beforehand. You gave no signs, no signs to me or to your friends. How can a seriously depressed person (such as you said in your suicide note) that has been that depressed all their life, accomplish the many, many things that you did in your life? All the while being depressed?

To remind you of your many accomplishments, let me take you on a trip down memory lane. I knew you were smart from a very early age by your ability to do things and only be shown once how to do them. Many things, you didn’t even have to be shown. I was never able to beat you at the first game of checkers or anything else but a game of Monopoly from the time you were very little. Then there was the Geography bowl you won in elementary school. That was our first real clue of your intelligence. You wouldn’t compete the next year when asked because you told me you didn’t even like geography. When you were in 7th grade, I got a notice from your teacher that you were eligible to participate in TIP (Duke Talent Identification Program) due to your IQ. This involved your taking the regular SAT (that high school children take in HS) and you made higher than most people in high school. You got a medal for high achievement in that Program.

You won awards in Algebra contests, and Chess tournaments.

You had some really good and close friends. You had enjoyable passtimes. You learned to swim like a fish. You had a very stable home life.

You wanted to go to the NC School for Math and Science (a very selective live-in high school in Durham for the math and science gifted). You applied there, and it was VERY hard to get in, but you got accepted and we moved you in for your last 2 years of HS. Only thing is, you felt it was not for you, so we moved you back home where you completed your last 2 years of HS at your regular school. You made all As your whole school life. You graduated Valedictorian and won many medals for achievement in many subjects. I have them all….I have them all in a trunk here at home.

We’ve gone to a million trips to Disney World as a family where you would ride things that most of us were scared to ride. You had fun, we all had fun, I have pictures, I can prove it.

You applied to many colleges and got accepted to all that you applied to. I thought you would chose Chapel Hill, but you didn’t really like the sporty, party atmosphere you thought it had, so chose Campbell University instead. Always in a rush to get on with things, you graduated from there in two and a half years. The last part of your years at Campbell, you interned as a surgical assistant with an oral surgeon and you loved this.

You’ve gone to Africa on a trip with students and teachers at Campbell University, you’ve gone to New York City, Canada, Florida, California, up to Northern states and had plans to visit many more places in the future.

After you graduated college, you applied for medical school, your lifelong dream, and was accepted at Wake Forest School of Medicine. In your first two years medical school, you were always so very excited to tell me all you learned, how exciting it was and how you were living your dream. You said it was what you were meant to do. You always told me this. Never did I get an indication of any stress you may have been under. Yes, anxiety before the release of test scores, but that was normal, and you always did well. Never the first problem in Med School. You excelled. How thrilled you told me you were when you would go in and assess patients, that it made you feel like a real doctor. How proud we were, and how happy you acted when we went to your White Coat Ceremony at the Med School, a rite of passage in medical schools.

With all these accomplishments, and I’m sure I’ve not thought of all of them on this writing, but all the while in your years before college, you learned and displayed great skill sewing, crocheting, and just creating all manner of things. You were a very gifted artists and won many awards for them. I have proof, I have the ribbons in a trunk, I have your works of art. You were a gifted poet and writer, you were very articulate and wise beyond your years, you always were.

In your last year at Campbell, you decided you wanted your own apartment and so we set off with you to find that perfect one in Cary where you worked (you were to travel back and forth to work and school). You found a beautiful one at a very nice complex. Not to be satisfied with plain white walls, you set about painting the walls, and each wall was a different color. Bold colors we thought would not look good. But you put those colors together and it looked like it came out of a magazine. Before you painted, we went to Wilmington and we went around all day as you picked out your new furniture. Oh we went to so many stores, but finally found just the right one that had most of what you liked. You were very careful of your selections. I’ll never forget that day, one of the happiest we ever spent together. I remember it was spring and there was pollen all over your black car. I remember you putting your arms around me as we walked a couple of times and squeezing me letting me know you loved me and how happy you were to be having a place of your own.

You decorated that apartment with the taste of an interior decorator. It was absolutely beautiful. Then you set about teaching yourself to cook. Not regular food, as you always told me, “I don’t like country food!” You made wonderful meals that could have come out of food magazines. I know, you cooked for us a few times. You also had a few dinner parties.

You were an avid reader and all your life your reading level was off the charts. You learned and read about things you cared about in life. Poetry, great works of literature. You loved the opera, the symphony and going to plays.

Later on, perhaps a little over a year ago, you really got into health and as an upcoming doctor, you wanted to practice what you preached. You started running regularly. Before that year was up, you had already run a half-marathon and a full marathon. You went to the gym regularly and you were very careful about the foods you ate.

You were always concerned about the wellbeing of others and people’s rights, gay rights, political justice; you were interested in the things that counted not superficial things.

You acquired great friends that were like-minded and they loved you.

You last came home in April, still displaying all this excitement and love of life and went back on your merry way back to Winston-Salem, back to your beautiful apartment, with your beloved cat Gatito, back to the start of your orientation to clincals for your 3rd year of Medical School, back to your wonderful life. You had plans with friends the upcoming weekend.

A few days later a policeman called me to tell me you were deceased and had taken your own life. When I got to your apartment and read the suicide note you left, it said that you were depressed all your life and you worked hard to keep it from us and protect us from it. That we may wonder why you didn’t seek help, and you could not explain why. But that you were sad and exhausted from the weight of it and could stand it no longer.

So, somewhere between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, you quietly slipped away. Away from our lives. And we are left wondering what we missed, how we missed it, and how to go on.

So my question remains: How can anyone DO all this in a severely depressed state all their lives? How? I’ve never heard of this! If someone knows the answer, please tell me. Like I said above, many great and gifted people have taken their own life, but I have never heard of one single one doing it without some sign of distress or depression beforehand. She always acted happy. Someone tell me!

If you have any answers, can direct me to any articles of the gifted and depressed, or have any words of wisdom, please comment.

Me & Kaitlyn

About gatito2

My name is Rhonda. I'm a registered nurse, for the last 20 years, that has not been able to work since the day I learned of my daughter's death by suicide 4-12-13. (She actually died 4-11-13 and her body was not found until the 12th) Me and my husband have been married for 32 years and he's a wonderful man. We grieve in different ways. He works, I write. This is my journey through this horrible land of losing a child..
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5 Responses to My Burning Question

  1. Carrie Lange says:

    it’s because she had an actual medical condition, which has nothing to do with her accoplishments. Please don’t feel that her life was lacking in any way other than this. You would not ask a cancer patient why they died when they had been so accomplished in life. But, sometimes, medical conditions are hidden. We don’t see them, nor does the person WITH the medical condition. And since our society stigmatizes mental illness so much, even if a person feels they may have one, they often hide it, even from themselves.

    My fiance, Dan, would not admit he had a mental illness. He refused to take any medication. He thought he could fight it through his own force of will. He hid it from everyone. Denied it, pretended he was fine. Since he refused to admit it and get treatment for it, he died. Depression is sometimes fatal, esp. without medical treatment.

    It would be like if a cancer patient refuses to accept they have cancer and won’t get treatment. Maybe your daughter refused to let anyone know, or maybe she herself didn’t even understand what was wrong with her. Sometimes people with fatal illness know there is something wrong, but they don’t know what it is. Sometimes they die because they or anyone else, never figured it out in time.

    Trust me, her LIFE did not kill her. Her untreated medical condition did. I hope all this is making sense.


  2. gatito2 says:

    Thank you, I hope that you don’t mind my putting your message to me, without names, on my facebook. That does make sense.


  3. Carrie Lange says:

    you go right ahead and post it, dear. And think on it. And keep thinking on it. Your daughter had an undiagnosed, potentially fatal medical condition. It’s possible that she was aware of it, but did not ask for help. It’s also possible that she was not aware of her condition. And obviously, she did not show any outward symptoms to you, so there is no reason for you to feel guilty.

    When my grandfather died suddenly from an anurism in his aorta, of course none of us thought for a moment to blame ourselves for not knowing. It also was not his fault, because he was not aware of it either. BUT, it was building up slowly over time. The artery was weakening. IF it had been caught early, then he could have been saved with proper medical care.

    Same, exact thing with your poor daughter. We need to educate our society about what Clinical Depression actually is. That way, when someone is depressed and suicidal, they will recognize it for what it is – a medical condition.


  4. Marsha Burney says:

    Rhonda…please, please reconsider continuing your blog. I have read each post you’ve made, and, yes, I’ve cried through all of them, but they have helped ME! When it looked as if my husband Marvin could not get another kidney transplant (he had had one) and would be tied to his dialysis machine for the rest of his life, we got a call almost 3 years ago — there was a perfectly matched donor. The young man (Mark, age 21) had taken his own life. His father chose to donate his organs, and Marvin got one of his kidneys. A couple months after the transplant, Marvin was allowed to write a letter to Mark’s father. The dad wrote back and shared a few things about Mark’s life with us. Before we could meet in person and thank Mark’s dad and find out more about Mark, the father was killed in an automobile accident. We so desperately wanted to know about Mark, his dreams, his talents, his personality…but we will never know. What we do know is that Mark’s memory lives on — Marvin’s life is proof of that. …..Through your writing, Kaitlyn’s memory lives on, too…please don’t let some insensitive idiot take that away … When you write about Kaitlyn, I think of Mark, too, and I believe in my heart that he was just as precious, just as talented, just as beautiful as Kaitlyn….I knew Kaitlyn, and I never get tired of hearing about her. YOU have taught me a lot about depression and suicide, and you have “put a face” with a young person who had so much to live for and thought she had no other choice. In keeping Kaitlyn’s memory alive through your writing, you have also kept Mark’s memory alive for us — and that is a double good thing. Please don’t take that away from me and Marvin.


  5. gatito2 says:

    Thank you. Kaitlyn was an organ donor too, but she wasn’t found soon enough. I can’t even stand the thought of her lying there in her bed dead like that. I’m just kind of really hurting too bad right now and don’t think my writing would do anyone any good right now. I’m hurt, mad, confused, depressed and the list goes on. She was a wonderful person that all who knew her will never forget.


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