I don’t know what to do. Need advice.

I seem to be at some sort of point in my grieving process that I don’t know how to handle. Since Kaitlyn died I have been pouring my heart out on Facebook, then got a blog and continue to do that and on Facebook still because it’s the best outlet I have for my grief. It comes out of me like a big river when it gets towards the rapids and then to the great waterfall. Sometimes I even write several times a day. The intensity of my love for Kaitlyn is the intensity of my pain at losing her and that is tremendous. Writing is the only thing that eases it even for a moment.

I have been very fickle lately, getting on Facebook and saying I’m not going to write on there anymore about her because I fear people will tire of a poor heartbroken mother with her sorrows on their page every day. I have sworn this off 2 or 3 times already, only to find myself right back at it usually the next day. But I have a reason to be so fickle.

I have so much to say. I have so much pain inside of me. Kaitlyn was so special I want to write about her. I want to write about the tragedy of such a promising young woman ending her life for a depression we knew nothing about. I want to write about the stigma. One day, I might even write a book, I don’t know.

But I battle with myself. Would Kaitlyn want this? Though Kaitlyn was extremely ambitious and she always told me that she wanted to be well known as a great doctor. A doctor people all over the world would seek out for her specialty. And I know this would have happened had she lived. Being known for someone who took her own life is NOT how she would have wanted to be remembered and I labor over the wonderings of whether she would want me to continue this. I know she would want to help others, even in her death, but would she want to be continued to be remembered in this way? As I said, Kaitlyn was very ambitious, but she was also a private person. Would she want stories about her, and all her accomplishments, and then the sad end that came to her to be slathered all over the world by my writings?

What spurs me to continue is my NEED to do it, to get it out. Another thing is to try to help others and make them realize its ok to seek help no matter who you are. Also, to let people know what a truly remarkable person she was. But would this be what she wanted? Or would she really want to be left in peace and have the people that loved her and that were in her life remember her and go on without constant reminders of what they lost? I just don’t know.

I always said I knew Kaitlyn. She knew me. But obviously there were parts of her I did not know, because I certainly didn’t know of her depression. I’d like to think that she would want to go on helping people even after her death in helping in suicide prevention. But would she want me to do this or to let her rest in peace in only our hearts and minds and the fund that is set up in her name at Wake Forest to help those with depression.

Something took ahold of me when she died and it has seemed to guide my fingers on the keyboard. Is it her spirit and will driving me to do something that is her will, or is it my own need to do something so she would not have died in vain? I don’t know.

I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried to be open and honest about her suicide, not try to hide it because people need to know about it and the stigma attached to mental problems needs to end. But to what extent do I go?

If I knew that she would want me to stop, I would not type another word on this keyboard. I would keep it all to myself and only talk to my loved ones about her or to an occasional friend once in a while because after a while, people don’t want to hear about your sorrows. Some don’t anyway. But if I knew she’d want me to continue, I would, I would carry on and even go farther when I’m able, but I don’t know. Yes, she’s dead and has no say in the matter anymore. She will never be known for the great doctor she would have become. But I don’t want her to be the face of suicide either.

Oh how I wish I could know. I know no one can answer this question but me, but I would love some input. I know I will get many responses to tell me to continue, but don’t fear to tell me otherwise and hurt my feelings. This isn’t about me; it’s about what Kaitlyn would want. I do not want to make her suicide the focus of her wonderful life. So I just don’t know what to do. But it’s important for me to do the right thing. I have the ability to write volumes more, but I can force myself to stop if I thought that would be what she wanted. She’s not here to tell me though. So what to do, what to do?

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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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14 Responses to I don’t know what to do. Need advice.

  1. Topaz says:

    Hi Rhonda. Actually, I left my comments on your FB page before I saw this same post here at WordPress.

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  2. Neal says:

    I will never remember Kaitlyn only for the fact that she took her own life. I will remember her promise as a doctor. I told her that I believed in her as a doctor and that she would make a difference in many lives.

    Kaitlyn may have been private, but nothing you said or posted has been embarrassing. You paint the picture of Kaitlyn before I knew her for me and everyone else. And the fact that it helps you to grieve is to me the most important part about your blog. I can’t imagine she would want you to stop doing something that helps your grief.

    It also is important to me. I am aware that at a certain point your friends don’t want to hear about your sorrows. But my friends who never met Kaitlyn will never know my sorrow. I don’t think I know your sorrow, and maybe you can’t know mine, but I can count on you to understand at least some of each others sorrow.

    I think the right thing to do is to continue to write as much as you think it helps you to write. People can read it or not, but if sharing makes you feel even a little bit better, you should continue. I don’t think it does Kaitlyn’s reputation any harm and it helps people like me, and maybe some other people who maybe read but don’t write as much as I do.

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  3. luciddream85 says:

    While you think about her suicide constantly, and mention it quite often in your posts, you are also remembering and honoring her life, by giving us some of your memories with her. It shows and highlights the special young woman that she was. You don’t want to remember her for her suicide, but you want people to take notice that it’s a very real thing that can happen.

    Kaitlyn’s suicide doesn’t define who she was. Sometimes one thing really has nothing to do with the other. Her character isn’t compromised and it doesn’t take away from everything you know and love about her, and I think that’s what you really try to get across to the readers, so that we don’t define her by her taking her own life.

    If writing about her helps you, then keep writing. If someone has a problem with that, then they don’t want to understand your grief, and they aren’t real friends. Everyone grieves in their own way. Some write, some work themselves to the bone, some sing, some shut down completely. You will heal in your own time.

    Danielle Steel wrote a book called “His Bright Light, The Story of Nick Traina” it’s about her son, that she lost to suicide. It’s a beautiful story that highlights all of the funny and quirky things about him, and goes through his life from beginning to the very end when she found him. Reading it helped me to stop my flimsy attempts at suicide. Reading it might help you see that you aren’t alone in writing to help cope with what has happened.

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  4. hello Rhonda. I know i dont know you but this post moved me so much i was compelled to respond. My Mother lost her eldest daughter (my sister) in a drink driving accident. I can not comprehend the greif you are going through but i understand it. I have seen it. All i know is unfortunately the dead are gone from our lives. Death doesnt hurt the dead, it hurts those the dead leave behind. If expressing your feelings and thoughts about what happened on a blog/facebook is what helps you get through this, then i have no doubt kaitlyn would want you to do so. If she loved you as much as you love her (which im more then sure she did) she would want you to do what ever you have to do to try a find peace with what happend. It is a terrible tragedy what happened to kaitlyn, yourself and your family. I am so unbeliveably sorry for your lose. All i can say now is that time doesnt heal all wounds, but it makes them easier to live with.

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  5. 0zymand1us says:

    Rhonda,

    I visit Alliance of Hope occasionally because I think it helps me prevent my own suicide and I followed Kaitlyn’s story from there. I don’t know you, but I can tell you I’ve read everything you’ve posted (everywhere) about your daughter. I’ve read everything I could find about Kaitlyn online. One of the heaviest burdens I bear is being as smart and talented as I am and still being inexplicably depressed and hopeless most of the time. It was painful to read that someone smarter and even more talented was a fatal victim of whatever this thing we call depression is.

    Obviously, like you, I cannot speak to what Kaitlyn would have wanted. I can try to explain what I think you’re searching for. You wrote that “Kaitlyn was extremely ambitious and she always told me that she wanted to be well known as a great doctor. A doctor people all over the world would seek out for her specialty.” In my professional life (when I get out of bed), this is called a narrative. Narratives exist independently of the individuals that intend to support (or detract from) them. You’ve probably heard similar language in the political world. For example, Barack Obama (the real person) is completely independent of the narrative that he tries to establish for himself (and also independent of the narrative that others try to establish for him). That independence means that while Kaitlyn is gone, the narrative of Kaitlyn Elkins remains.

    Kaitlyn no longer bears the burden of supporting that narrative. She can no longer control or influence that narrative. It is your choice if you want to support her narrative on her behalf. I think that it is also your choice what that narrative needs to be and that struggling with what Kaitlyn would have wanted you to do is probably counterproductive. I say that because carrying this narrative for her is going to be difficult and will take hard work (being a well-known doctor that people all over the world would seek out for advice should be) and the hard choices are going to be yours to make. I’m not saying that you are alone in this, I’m just saying that I think struggling with figuring out if Kaitlyn’s would support you in this effort or that when you have already stated that you may never really know doesn’t sound like a valuable use of time. This is your time to decide to support her.

    Don’t make it about suicide if you don’t want to. Make it about the medical field she was most interested in. Make it about whatever she has inspired you to care about. Make it about what she has inspired the rest of your family to care about.

    Narratives are very powerful things. We absorb, process and communicate information entirely in narratives. The ability to keep a positive narrative while navigating bad circumstances is a talent and those who have such ability will always succeed eventually. Unfortunately those who hold a negative narrative can be eaten alive even amongst the best of circumstances. I believe that there is a message here that people all over the world would find value in having heard. There are parents all over the world that would find value in having heard you deliver it. Whether you want to or not is up to you. If you want Kaitlyn’s narrative to be a positive one, you will need to craft it and tell it to the world.

    For what it is worth, I can tell you that hopelessness is a very powerful thing. People think that being smart and talented prevents you from being hopeless, but I can tell you that sometimes it just adds guilt about hopelessness on top of hopelessness. Whatever pain and burden Kaitlyn was feeling, you have to know that the very last thing she would have wanted to accomplish with her death was to simply transfer that pain to you. I am not religious, but I know the research surrounding hope. Whatever happens, you have to believe that you deserve to still hope for a better tomorrow. I hope that you and Kaitlyn can make it better together.

    Thank you for at least sharing Kaitlyn’s story so far.

    Jeffrey

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  6. gatito2 says:

    Jeffrey, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment to my post. When Kaitlyn took her life, I had (and still do) a very hard time trying to understand why someone that achieved so much, was in the middle of achieving her dream, who acted and told me she was happy, who said she was living her dream, had just bought new clothes, had made plans for the upcoming weekend, seemed very happy two days beforehand, and always said she was so lucky to have people who loved her and be able to pursue her dreams could commit suicide. I just could not wrap my head around it and still can’t.

    Now I do know that there are many instances when creative, gifted, intelligent people take their own lives. Look at Hemingway. (But he did it after he got sick and could hardly write anymore). Look at Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath and those are just the famous ones. I’ve learned that many people like this become suicidal for some reason. Perhaps it’s because they are more sensitive? Perhaps it’s that they don’t truly feel they belong in a world where most of the population has an average IQ and there are not that many people they can relate to? I don’t know.

    I also know that depression can be situational, for example if you get divorced, are on drugs, someone you love dies, you lose your job etc., but I also know that for a large amount of people, probably more than the situational depression, that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. You could be a millionaire, or successful businessman, a doctor, have the world in your hands and still be depressed. Many people don’t understand this and think these people have no right to be depressed, but that’s not how depression works. It does not care what you have going for you. I know these things because (1) I’m a registered nurse and I’ve studied it. (2) I’ve worked with mentally ill people (3) I suffer from depression myself and it was totally chemical. I had a great marriage, wonderful daughters, great job, and comfortable home but yet I wanted to die many times. However, unlike my daughter you could really tell when I was depressed even though I continued my job and I sought help and get medication and counseling for it. I didn’t want to die and leave my children to say for the rest of their lives that their mother committed suicide. So I got help. I also know that for many people that commit suicide, they know they will hurt the people left behind, but they hurt so bad mentally that they just want it to end. That’s what my daughter did. She told me to forgive her for hurting us, but she just could not go on. She just did not want to exist anymore and had been depressed all her life. We never, for one single second ever saw her depressed. She always got out of bed, always did everything; it never kept her from school or anything. I just found it so hard to believe she hid it so well but yet suffered so intensely.

    I know I’m getting away from the subject of my post that you replied to and some of what you commented on, but the reason I say all these things is, in you, I have found someone who is Kaitlyn’s intellectual equal. I would love it if you could tell me how you feel about yourself when you are depressed. Most of the people I hear from that have lost loved ones to suicide, people knew they were depressed beforehand, and had problems. I have yet to talk to many people that are very intelligent but suffer from depression. I would love for you to tell me how you feel so I can better understand what my daughter went through in silence. Is it because since you’re so intelligent you expect too much of yourself? Are you a perfectionist and can’t live up to your expectations? Are you lonely in a world of average people? I don’t mean to be nosey but I would love to hear more of your story if you could take the time to tell me. If you don’t want to post publicly here, please email me at welding81@intrstar.net

    As far as what I wonder about how much I should write about Kaitlyn and all goes. What I want to do is help spread the word that even talented, gifted, creative people like her can be depressed. That you can have the world at your feet and still be depressed and I want to fight the stigma attached to it. In getting that out, I have to tell Kaitlyn’s story of what a wonderful person she was. That’s very easy for me to do. I just didn’t know if she wanted her name out there associated with suicide. But I’m coming to believe in my heart that she would want me to do something to help people. I’m not sure, but I think she never sought help for her depression is because of the stigma attached to it and she didn’t ever want anyone to know anything was wrong with her at all. Also I think she thought she could conquer it like she conquered everything else, but after so many years of fighting it, she could fight no more. I just want to try to make a difference that if someone has a problem with depression, they don’t have to worry about telling someone because they fear it will ruin their careers or education. I think in telling her story I can make my point. I really think she would want this, but as in my post, sometimes I wonder. But she’s no longer here to tell me.

    I hope you are getting help for your depression and not suffering in silence. You sound very much like my daughter. The world needs gifted intelligent people like you and my daughter. It’s a shame that depression can take it all away.

    As you can see, I can write volumes and I’m sorry this ran long. But I’m intrigued by your situation because you sound like my daughter and I want to learn more about you. As I said, I have chemical depression, and I’m fairly intelligent, (but nowhere in the same galaxy of intellect my daughter had) but I am not 23 with the world in my hands about to soon be a doctor and have so many gifts like she did. She had so much to lose when she laid her life down. And I want to understand it and I hope you can shed some light on this for me.

    Thank you so much and I wish you happiness. Please comment or email me back.

    Rhonda

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  7. gatito2 says:

    Thank you so much. It does help me so much to get my feelings out by writing. It is my outlet. I just want to know in my heart that she wouldn’t mind my telling all about her everywhere and her being associated with suicide. But I have a point to make, and that intelligent, gifted and creative and seemingly happy people can be severely depressed and hide it. I also want to fight the stigma which I’m sure my daughter must have worried about. Thank you so much for your comments. I think I will keep writing.

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  8. gatito2 says:

    I agree with everything you just wrote. Thank you so much and I am pretty sure I will keep writing about her because I would never write anything bad or something she would want kept private. I only have praise for her because she was wonderful. She could not have been perfect because no one is, but in my eyes, she was and she was pretty darn close to it.

    I knew Ann Rule’s son committed suicide but I didn’t know about Daneil Steel’s son. I read all I can about suicide now to try to understand things. I thought I knew alot about it but I have much to learn yet and have learned much lately. Thank you so much for your comments.

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  9. gatito2 says:

    Thank you Neal and as always, your comments make sense. I feel in my heart really that if Kaitlyn knew it made me feel better and that in some way I might be helping others by telling her story, she would be all for it. Kaitlyn wanted to make something of herself and she did, she just “left in the middle of her song” as the song says. I think she would want me to fight the thing that caused her to give all her dreams and ambitions away. The horrible thing that made her not even want to live even with all her talents. How horrible it must have been to have been so talented but hurt so much it didn’t matter and didn’t want to live. It breaks my heart.

    Neal, I enjoy sharing Kaitlyn’s memories with you and I know very well that you suffer greatly with her loss. I know you miss her and your heart hurts tremendously. You loved her as a friend, I loved her as a mother. Different relationships, but love all the same and it hurts like heck to lose someone you love so very much. Not that you implied this, but never underestimate my knowledge of how much you hurt. My daughter loved you. And as always, thank you for being her friend and helping her grieving mother by keeping in touch with me and reading my blog. It means the world to me.

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  10. gatito2 says:

    Thank you Topaz.

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  11. Hi, about your question “Or would she really want to have the people that loved her and that were in her life go on without constant reminders of what they lost? ” I think that she would have wanted that. As someone who is constantly thinking about suicide but doesn’t do it because he doesn’t want to hurt his family, the last thing I want is to have my family live in constant depression and sadness for losing me. Sometimes I wish they didn’t care about me at all. That way they wouldn’t suffer for my death. I want them to move on and continue with their lives as if I had never existed.
    However, as someone else already said, “If expressing your feelings and thoughts about what happened on a blog/facebook is what helps you get through this, then i have no doubt kaitlyn would want you to do so.” I don’t know what reasons Kaitlyn had to kill herself, but I’m sure that torturing you was not her goal. If writing helps you, then keep writing. Plus, you write beautifully and indeed help others (both suicidals and their loved ones) be more aware of this issue.

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  12. gatito2 says:

    Thank you for your comment because I do want honest replies. The only thing is, is that it makes me sad that you said you would want your family to go on as if you had never existed. It reminds me too much of what Kaitlyn said in her note……”I just no longer want to exist.” It’s depression that makes you feel that way and it just makes me sad that you feel that way and probably the very way Kaitlyn felt in the depths of her despair. My daughter also told me in her note that she would have died years ago but she couldn’t bear the thought of hurting us but to forgive her that she could wait no more. I hope you are trying to get help for your depression. It would be a lesser world without you in it and I don’t even know you. But it would. Always remember what it would do to your family. Hopefully it will keep you alive. I wish you all the best and thank you for your honesty. I wish no one the mental pain and anguish that someone feels when they are suicidal. (and by the way, I know that pain personally) I would not wish them to have to continue that pain, but do wish that they seek help to try to make it better. That is my wish for you.

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  13. Rhonda, your writing has its own life. It’s like a child that you nurture. You should write as long as you feel the need. What it becomes is only partially up to you. I will tell you I have found your blog so compelling and comforting, as a psychiatrist, as a mother, and as someone who has struggled with depression myself. It makes me feel less ashamed to hear about someone else in medicine who struggled with depression. When I was young, I hid my depression. I was seen as very happy and optimistic. I WAS happy and optimistic, and still am. I’ve learned as the years go by that happiness is not the opposite of depression and vice versa. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to cry, to let people see how I feel. But, when I was in my 20’s, especially during the years that I wanted to be a doctor, before I had been assured that it would happen, it was very hard for me to show any sign of weakness.
    Your writing does honor Kaitlyn. I’m so sad that she felt such pain, and I know what that pain feels like, and it hurts me that such a tragic loss took place.

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  14. gatito2 says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. It makes me feel good about what I write. I write directly from my heart. I loved her and still love her more than I could ever fully put in words. I’m glad that you find my writing comforting and am especially honored that you do so with the profession you are in because I know you see depression all the time. I have also learned since Kaitlyn died, that many medical students and doctors suffer from depression and many have committed suicide. I think somewhere I read that 400 doctors a year on average take their own lives. Kaitlyn was a very high acheiver. She acheived easily. Medical school was hard but she always said she loved it. I feel like she felt as you did, she had not acheived her goal yet and she was not about to show any signs of what she may have perceived as weakness. So many gifted, talented, and creative people are lost this way and it’s hard to understand why and it’s so unfair. It’s unfair to lose anyone to suicide, but hard to grasp when it happens to someone you would never suspect of being depressed. She did not want to worry us (she said so in her note she wanted to “protect us from it and protect herself from it,” which I interpret it that she tried to deny she had a problem and if she did she tried to do all she could herself to help herself feel better (by exercising, running, eating right, doing all the things she loved) but it just was not enough. It is just so sad and terribly unfair. But another thing she said in her letter is that it was unfair for her to live the way she has been living and she could not bear the weight of the sadness any longer.

    I’m glad you made it. I just wish my girl could have gotten help somehow, someway. She didn’t have to announce it to the school, but maybe just get help. I wish so many things that I can no longer do anything about. I would have died a million deaths myself gladly to have saved her.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean more to me than you know. I wish you continued happiness.

    Rhonda

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