“I’m going to kill myself”

No, I’m not suicidal. But my mother is.

It’s sort of socially acceptable to have your elderly parent call you and complain about chest pain, or back pain, or even severe dementia. But, having a severe mental illness and wanting to end your own life? Not so socially acceptable.

My sister and I have been dealing with this for virtually all of our lives. It’s an odd thing to know that your mother often wishes that she wasn’t alive. It changes how you see your own existence.

I’m the first-born.

I know that my existence extinguished my mother’s (and probably my father’s) ambitions for achieving advanced degrees. I always suspect that, had it not been for my appearance on the scene, my parents might both have done more with their lives… So, would they have been better off aborting me? Who can tell?

Even so, with decades of experience with my mother’s mood disorder, it’s still disconcerting to call her up and hear her say “I want to kill myself; I can do that legally, in Oregon, with the help of a doctor, right?”.

And I say “Yes, of course, I understand how much you’re suffering, and it does seem like enough is enough.”

And I do.

What is her quality of life right now? Pretty much nil.

The first Noble Truth in Buddhism is “Life is suffering”.

And, if you live with mental illness, that Truth is very evident.

The next three Noble Truths are more hopeful – there is a way out of Suffering. But, not so accessible if you suffer from a mental disorder.

So, you’re stuck in a state of suffering.

What is so unreasonable about wanting to end that suffering? I don’t have a good answer to that. I wish that I did. Talking to my mom tonight, I wished that I had an answer for her.

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