There are many words, phrases and thoughts that fill my mind many times a day pertaining to my daughter Kaitlyn’s suicide. One of these words is something that many people that have lost loved ones to suicide dislike very much and that word is “waste.” I think that when people that have lost loved ones to suicide hear the word “waste” associated with the suicide of their child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or friend, that it somehow means that their life was a waste, that somehow it is demeaning to their loved one.
I’m not writing this to tell others how to feel and if that word insults the memory of their loved one, then I respect it and understand it. We all have words that just make us cringe and conjures up all kinds of horrible feelings. But this is about how I feel and why I feel the way I do.
I very much think that the ending of my daughter’s life was a waste. I think the fact that she ended her own life made it even more so. That does not mean that I think her life up until that point was a waste, quite the contrary. And it certainly does not mean that I think Kaitlyn made a rational decision to end her life. I do believe, at that time, that she thought it was rational, but the fact is, depression distorts your thinking, very much so.
It also does not mean that I am angry at Kaitlyn for doing what she did. I don’t like what she did. It has almost completely ruined my life and I am struggling to salvage it as best I can. It has forever changed my life and the life of her father, sister, other family members and friends. But I cannot be angry at my daughter for having a disease that impaired her rational thought. I can’t even be angry that she never told anyone or sought help, which can also be caused by that very disease.
So in saying all that and driving home those facts, I do, with all my heart, think the loss of my daughter was the biggest waste of a human life that I can possibly imagine. This is not saying that I think any other person that has taken their own life was not a waste, but I’m only talking about my daughter here this time.
It staggers my mind on a continuous basis the fact that someone so talented that never gave up on one thing in her entire life, gave up the ultimate, most important thing of all….her life.
She was not a dysfunctional person with the horrors of drug addiction and abuse, a wrecked home and social life, job problems or anything like that. She was an extremely intelligent and gifted young woman. With each passing year her talents increased and she was always adding to her list of talents because she improved herself learning more things all the time.
She was young, oh so young at 23. Right in the time that most of us think is the prime of our lives. She was right in the middle of achieving her dreams and was starting her 3rd year of medical school. She had some good, close friends. She was in the best physical shape she had ever been in her life as she went to the gym and ran regularly along with eating very healthily. She had her own apartment. She had her own car that was paid for. She had her cat Gatito. She had gifts enumerable which included a gift for math, science, all subjects really, writing, poetry and art. She taught herself to cook wonderful meals. She had the best taste in décor and it showed in her apartment
She was very, very well loved by us her parents, as well as her sister and other family members. She had emotional support when she needed it. Her friends loved her. She was kind, sweet, had common sense, was cultured, dignified, had integrity, honesty, ambition, drive and stood up for what she believed in without question.
Her life was not perfect. She was in medical school, and though she was doing well, it is one of the most demanding courses of study there is. She would have owed a massive debt in medical school loans once she would have graduated starting at residency and residents do not make that much. Around 45,000 a year or so, depending on where it is. She would have paid on this debt for a huge part of her life. But she knew all this going in and did not seem to ever fret about it.
She lived in a town where she went to medical school where she felt isolated and alone. She was an introvert, which is not a problem, but a personality type, but it makes it harder to find people of your same interests. I’m an introvert too and though I want friends, it’s harder to actually make them. But she did have friends.
I know that Kaitlyn never believed in things just because millions of people may believe in that thing and have for thousands of years. She was always questioning things, because that is usually what bright minds do. They never take things at face value.
But Kaitlyn never voiced her loneliness or worry about her loan or the stresses of medical school to me. I did know she was not happy in the town she lived in. I was told by her boyfriend at the time that she was lonely.
Maybe the things I just mentioned were more powerful than what I thought. Or maybe none of that had to do with the reason she chose to end her life. Maybe it was depression that caused her to think that with all she had going for her, it was still not worth the pain that she lived in with her severe depression.
So, I do think her death was a waste. Not her life, but what could have been. If she had lived and gotten help for her depression, there is great chance that she could have continued to live on, and have been happy. She could have finished med school even though all of what I have learned since her death about med school, internship, residency and actually practicing medicine, would really make me wish she would do something else. I would have accepted any decision she would have wanted to make whether stay in med school or quit and go for something else. We would have helped her with her loans by whatever means we could. We are not well off financially, but we would have helped her any way that we could have found if it meant refinancing our house. But we didn’t know that was what she wanted and still don’t know. We will never know.
I think it’s a waste that her young life ended. She had not even gotten married yet, had not even had a child. The reality of that was brought home full force to me as I cleaned out her apartment and threw the birth control pills I knew she took away. What a stab in the heart. There will be no babies, I will never have a grandchild by her. I will never have a son-in-law by her. She will never go to a big city with culture and practice medicine like she always wanted.
She will never draw another picture, write another poem or prose, never enter her dietary intake on the online site for that purpose, never run another marathon, never cook another meal for a friend or for us, never go to another restaurant, or play, or opera or symphony. She will never get into her Black Honda Civic with the dent in it from running into something in the parking lot at med school that she was scared to tell us about. She will never text you again Neal or put funny posts on your facebook page, never run with you. She will never get in touch with all her old friends from her past. Christopher, she will never exercise with you at the gym. She will never again use that gym card that still hangs on her keychain. She will never graduate medical school.
She will never be that doctor as she described to me once saying, “Momma, I want to be the best of the specialty I got into and I want to be sought out from all over the country because of my expertise.” And she could have. Kaitlyn always reached her goals and she had the mind and drive to do it. The patients that would have greatly benefited from her care and kindness will never know her.
She will never again call me on the phone, or message me or skype with me telling me of about her life, or in the future telling me of the wonderful and exciting things she would do, new things she had learned at the wonderful city she would settle, wherever it would have ultimately been.
She’ll never come home again to visit from that distant place she would have lived to let me and her father hug her again, telling her how much we love and adore her and how proud we are to have her as our daughter.
All of this and so much more will never, ever happen. And I don’t know any other way of putting it other than saying it is a waste. A waste of so much potential, so much love and sweetness, such a wonderful and loving daughter.
And that lets you know how very powerful and dangerous depression is or any other mood disorder. Someone with that much going for her, such a bright future ahead did not think her life worth living anymore because she was in such despair and perpetual sadness. What a statement that makes, a very sad statement and a statement that makes anyone know that has any sense at all that depression is a not weakness but a disease that affects your mind. There was nothing ever weak about my daughter. Depression caused her to think the only sensible thing to do was to no longer exist.
This all brings to mind a link a friend sent to me yesterday of an article a man wrote (who is supposed to be some well-known person that I have never heard of before). He wrote in this article that the fact that Robin Williams killed himself, that the man that wrote this article lost all respect for him because Robin Williams had children. How could he end his life having children that he knew he would cause such pain? He went on to say many things like this and also said that anyone he ever knew that killed themselves he lost respect for and that to him they no longer counted. They were nothing in his life anymore and their memory forever tarnished because these people chose to take their own life. It was a decision that person made. He does not understand, or want to understand that the mental disease affected that person’s mind. I won’t even give the article any justification by putting a link to this ignorant article. I wonder if he had lost a child to suicide, and really honestly knew what depression did to someone’s thought processes, if he would think the same way. I would be willing to bet that he would not feel this way. He would go out of his way to try to understand depression and I doubt he would cancel out his child’s life just because that child had a disease that made them not want to live, killed himself and by doing all that hurt him. Does he not even wonder how much the people that killed themselves hurt? I don’t think so. People have the right to voice their own opinion, but I have the right to say that their opinion is wrong and only perpetuates the misunderstanding and stigma of mental illness.
Sometimes I think that many people think that if they admit that suicide is caused by a disease that makes someone no longer want to live, that we somehow mean that suicide is ok, that it is acceptable, that by saying this it gives people free rein to kill themselves willy nilly without fear of what it does to their family and loved ones. It’s like we are giving it a stamp of approval. Well that is very far from the truth. What we are doing when we learn and gain correct information about depression and suicide are weapons to fight against it, to help put programs in place for its study and ways to treat mental illness….not an “Ok just kill yourself, it’s ok.” Suicide is NOT ok. It takes away a life and so much of what could have been. It ruins families and lives in so many ways. But that does not mean we should vilify the person that did it. We should shed tears about what horrible disease made them do it and continue to find ways to treat it.
Yes, I think my daughter’s suicide was a waste of a great life. When anyone takes their own life it is a waste. But the life she lived was not a waste, and I will never vilify my daughter or let her life be defined by what she did. Yes, I write about it a lot, very much in fact. But she was so much more than a suicide statistic. But the fact that she did kill herself is a fact I cannot erase. But I will never erase her memory and the wonderful person she was.