Friday, September 20, 2013

20 things : the group

1. I feel such a sense of relief, having experienced the first iteration of the Survivors of Suicide support group last night.

2. I was worried that the group was only going to be heavy, crushing, scary, and not show its helpful aspects immediately.

3. I want to give an indication of my experiences without breaking the confidentiality of others... so no details about other group members. Which means that I probably won't blog about the group much other than this first week.

4. I feel I owe it to those who were extremely concerned after my last blog entry to show that I am feeling somewhat better. I feel guilty about making others extremely concerned. I don't think the last blog entry was particularly extreme, considering all I've written about. Joanna's voice echoes in my head right now we are not responsible for other people's feelings. We are responsible for our own feelings.

5. But sometimes, with loved ones, the boundaries blur. About who is responsible for what. So I write this entry, in part, because of that. To reassure others, and to assuage my own guilt.

6. I mostly want to talk about the philosophies of the group leader regarding suicide. To me they are unusual and comforting at the same time.

7. She believes that suicide is not, in fact, preventable. She has research to show that with or without psychiatric treatment, the suicide rates remain the same.

8. She believes that suicide is its own illness, a  massive failure of the frontal lobes' executive function--separate from depression, bipolar disorder, and so forth.

9. She believes that the idea that is prevalent in society "suicide is preventable" leaves the survivors with a huge amount of guilt over what they could have, should have done to save their loved ones.

10. This idea is, in one way, immensely comforting to me --because I am still obsessed with what I should have done to help my mom. If only I had been more aggressive about talking to her doctors. If only I had taken charge and flown her up to Pittsburgh.

11. You see, I'd had this idea that at some point, I would have to move her up here and take more of an active role in her life, sorting out her myriad problems for her. Because her decision making skills had been going downhill for decades, plural. Talk about failure of executive function.

12. But we could never have lived together, ever. Because of how toxic our relationship was when we were that proximal. It was not good for me.

13. I had been trying for years--half my life--trying to and succeeding in repairing the damage that --to be frank --she either caused or set me up for.

14. So I had been putting it off --offering to move her to Pittsburgh --b/c I knew it would cost a lot of money to set her up and she has none. I also knew that much of the time it would be like taking care of a child. And I also knew that the relationship had the potential to quickly turn into me = caregiver and she = a mean, combative, even at times violent child.

15. And I've been struggling with this idea of I PUT IT OFF FOR ME ME ME. And so I let her die. I chose me over her.

16. Ironically, I wonder if my relatives in Georgia thought they were doing the same thing when they moved her down there. Like they could swoop in and fix a truly unfixable situation.

17. My mother had a real talent for inspiring this kind of We Will Save the Day kind of help... and then TOTALLY resisting 99% of the help. It. Was. Truly. Maddening.

18. The DBT version of helping me with my survivor's guilt is : waterfall. I may have blogged about this before. Joanna asked me one day to come up with an image that would snap me out of the rumination (dwelling-on) trajectory that I've just described.  I came up with waterfall. Not because it was a beautiful example of mother nature's creation... but because it was beguiling yet destructive. If you stand under Niagara, you will be crushed. The water surges forward under its own power, cutting a channel into the rock because that's what it does. You are just a brittle bag of bones compared to the power of the waterfall.

19. According to our SoS group leader, my mom's brain slowly stopped being able to make the decisions necessary to keep her alive. Complex decisions, but also decisions that we all take for granted. It is a radical idea. However, I'm considering it. Not only do I want to believe it because it lessens my guilt, but it also makes so much damn sense when I look at the course of her life over the past twenty years. If you think about it, it actually connects to waterfall. Well, okay, it does for me.

20. So that's what I got from my first week of group. I'm glad there are only 20 things. It tells me when I can stop writing. B/c I'm exhausted now. Whew. Time to hop in the shower and start my day!

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