It’s hard to explain to people why my dad took his life. He didn’t fit the mold of a suicidal person. It wasn’t just depression and hopelessness. I want to explain further what my dad was going through, in order to help others notice these signs.
My dad became addicted to vitamins. Weird, right? He had a full bottle of prescribed pain relievers in his medicine cabinet, completely untouched. He had taken so many different over the counter, ‘natural’ supplements to try and find relief. He took melatonin every night for months because he wasn’t sleeping from hot flashes, due to his hormone shots. He even doubled and tripled the dosage. He would often forget if he took it, and would take more. Did you know that taking melatonin long term can lead to depression and horrible nightmares? That happened to my dad. He told my mom that he had the worst dreams, but wouldn’t talk about them. On the bottle (as well as information online), will say that melatonin should only be for short term usage. Just because a product is natural and considered safe, doesn’t mean that it can be used indefinitely. Please use discretion when taking over the counter supplements. Even talk to a doctor about what supplements you are taking. Some will counter act each other. When my dad lost so much blood from a benign tumor in his stomach a few years ago, he continued to take garlic pills. My dad had always taken garlic pills. He always had the garlic smell, from taking so much of it. When he saw the doctor on a follow up from the surgery to remove the tumor and stop the bleeding, the doctor said to stop taking garlic right away. It can actually thin the blood. While taking garlic can be great for the body, please use discretion. Use supplements in moderation. Consult a doctor if you are unsure of the side effects. I’ve heard melatonin being used for years for sleep. But I have never heard of those side effects. It can happen and it does happen.
My dad became bulimic the last few months of his life. He felt that he couldn’t go anywhere because he would have to use the bathroom after he ate. He said he could feel it in his stomach, and just wouldn’t let his food settle. He was 6’5″ and weighed around 160 pounds. He wasn’t getting the nutrients he needed from his food. He ate super healthy, no junk food. But he didn’t let it stay in his system to digest. We knew he had a problem, but we thought his pain was from his previous surgery on his stomach, and possibly the side effects of radiation. At one time, our family told him to go and buy some junk food, and good fats. He needed to gain weight! If any food was going to give him troubles, he might as well add some fattening food to his diet. I remember him calling me, laughing at how much money he spent on junk food. He loved it! He was happy! But the need to relieve his body of the food he ate was strong. He was back to that vicious cycle.
Doctors couldn’t possibly know what he was going through. They heard ‘constipation’ and ‘hot flashes’. Sounds like an easy fix. They gave him help for those things. But there was so much more to my dads pain.
My dad didn’t die from depression and hopelessness. Yes that was a part of it, but it doesn’t explain his story. He had hot flashes and couldn’t sleep. He relied on supplements to help relieve the pain. Which, in turn, made things worse. He felt the need to find relief after eating. He always felt constipated. Always complained of that. He felt that it was so bad, that he couldn’t go anywhere. When I suggested going to the bookstore, or walk around a park, he would tell me that he wouldn’t be able to stay long, because he would have to come home and use the bathroom. I think at the end, he was just done fighting. He was exhausted. He couldn’t pursue his hobby of shooting anymore. He felt that he couldn’t go anywhere.
I just hurt for him. Hurt that he had to go through all that pain and mental exhaustion. I wish there was a way I could have helped relieve that pain and make it better. Maybe if I knew the signs of OCD and addiction more carefully, I could have done something. I could have taken him to a counselor, a psychiatrist. Anything to help him feel better. Maybe he would still be here.
This part of guilt and hurt is coming back to me, in this roller coaster of grief. I know that we all did the best that we could. But there’s always those ‘what if’ questions.
I hope that we can all become knowledgeable about the faces of suicide. That it’s not all from depression and hopelessness. So many other factors can play a role in suicide.