mother and young daughter holding hands at the beach

To the Relative Who Said I Don't Love My Children Enough


I was just a week out of the mental hospital for suicidal ideation when you said it.

“No mother who truly loves her children would ever think of killing herself.”

I’m sure you meant well. Maybe you were thinking you were the first one to ever voice such a thought, that perhaps such a radical idea might shake me out of my destructive pathways.

You were wrong.

Instead, your words destroyed my newly-burgeoning sense of well-being. My optimism, already fragile, quavered and began to crumble.

You see, I respect you. I love you. I have nothing but good will towards you. I only wish I could convey to you the depth of how wrong you are.

I love my children with all the power of my fractured heart. I would gladly throw myself in front of a bullet or fight a bear with my bare hands for any one of them. They usually keep my feet firmly grounded to the earth; they are my reason for being and my all in all.

But sometimes, you see, the thoughts in my head begin to spiral. They’d all be better off without you, they whisper. You are only screwing up their lives. Soon, they no longer whisper. They scream and shout, day and night. I begin to believe them. They’ll be stronger without you! They’ll move on and be happier!

The most recent time this began to happen, and when I began to contemplate the best way to make it happen, I recognized it as a very dangerous sign. I knew the voices were false; I just didn’t know how to make them stop. So I committed myself to the hospital in the hope I could be safe and feel better.

Fortunately, it worked. I do feel better. I was moving forward.

Until your comment.

It took a supreme amount of willpower to prevent myself from going to a very dark place after your words, but I managed to do it. For this, I thank a stellar support group and proper medication.

Mental illness is not a choice. No one makes the decision to have it, or any disease. I recognize that I have a mental illness, bipolar disorder. This can make me susceptible to drastic mood swings and irrational thinking.

Maybe you’re one of those who has the luxury of believing such a diagnosis is bunk, that psychology is a farcical science. If you are, then we haven’t much more to say to each other. For both of our sakes and the sakes of our precious families, let’s strive to understand one another instead. I only want to educate and inform.

I hope you can find it in your heart to listen.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Follow this journey on Crazy. Real.

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