Thursday, November 5, 2009

May the Road Rise to Meet You

I have one more serious, non-fiber related post for the week, and then I am off to NYC for the weekend to see my dear friend S.'s new musical. Back to sewing and knitting next week, I hope!

A few days ago, I learned that a former coworker of mine committed suicide. This was not someone I was particularly close to, but I always thought well of him. I was on the east coast and he was on the west coast, but we spoke regularly on the phone for a couple of years and saw each other at meetings on either coast from time to time. This was a handsome, driven man, committed to making a difference in the world, full of passion and energy and drive. The thought of him taking his own life is an incomprehensible tragedy to me.

Mostly what I want to say is, I am grateful that his friends and family are being honest about the cause of death, and his long struggle with bipolar disorder (which I never knew about until now). Even in a world where (it seems) every 5 seconds an antidepressant commercial airs on television, there is still much shame surrounding mental health issues. And conversely, I think there can often be a cavalier attitude about mental health as well – “here, take a pill, you’ll feel better”. In serious cases medication can help, but sometimes it stops working and a person has to endure weeks or months of finding another medication – or combination of medications – to regain some sense of normalcy in his life. Sometimes the medication can work too well, in that it can convince someone with chronic mental health issues that they are now cured and no longer need the medication…but a few months later they are back to struggling for their very existence.

I don’t know what the situation was with my coworker. What I do know is that over 200 people joined a Facebook page in his memory, and dozens of people have written about what an impact he had on their lives. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to read about the things he accomplished, and yet he found himself filled with such pain and despair. This makes me wonder if it’s really accurate to refer to suicide as a “choice”…I think that once a person has gone far enough down a darkened path death can seem like a foregone conclusion, rather than an option. But choice or not, I'm sad that despite being surrounded by people who loved him and did everything humanly possible to help, that this was the end result.

Jackopierce was a favorite band of his, and they sing a song based on this old Irish blessing that seems like a completely appropriate send-off...

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind always be at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of his hand

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your coworker. I once worked with someone who committed suicide and never forgot it ..or him. It is so tragic when someone no longer has hope.