Suicide Blonde: Bre’s Story

 

All the times that I’ve criedbredepress
All this wasted, it’s all inside
And I feel all this pain
Stuffed it down
It’s back again
And I lie
Here in bed
All alone
I can’t mend
But I feel
Tomorrow will be okay.

Staind, Outside

Geminians are a curious breed. Not especially known for their stick-to-itiveness, they are the butterflies of the zodiac, flitting from flower to flower as a brighter, seemingly more appealing one catches their eye. Rinse; repeat.  Famous (infamous?) for their chatty natures, the Twins – which, not coincidentally, is the sign of communication – will yak your ears off if given the opportunity. Few things are more appealing to a Gemini than to express themselves or share ideas, and they will utilize any means to do so: talking, texting, email, writing (do people even write anything anymore?), Facebook, Twitter…you name it. Their thoughts often race through their minds at such a frenetic pace that even the native will struggle to keep up, nevermind the rest of us, who can barely get a word in edgewise, if we’re lucky.

As an Aries Sun with an air-weighted natal chart, I have four planets in Gemini and must plead guilty to being under the influence of this talkative sign (as well as thank and sheepishly apologize to those who put up with it.) And would you look at me: in typical Twins fashion, there I go, darting off-topic. This isn’t about me, it’s about a Gemini soul I had the pleasure and privilege to call “friend.”

Bre was a Facebook friend with whom I first became acquainted in early 2012 via several

breianna

Bre

mutual storm-chasing friends. Now, I realize that many people don’t count Facebook friends as “real” friends, but I vehemently disagree: had it not been for Facebook, I never would have even known three of my now-closest friends even existed, and it’s highly improbable I would have reconnected with another one. I truly cannot imagine how different my life would be today without any one of them being a part of it. But – yet again – I digress…

An immensely talented photographer, Bre had a passion for capturing the beauty of the world around her. Like me, she had a fondness for animals and nature (she loved wolves, in particular) and, also like me, a lifelong fascination with and love for severe weather, all of which she intertwined into her hobby. And she exceled at it. When she captured a single flower on camera, it was so lifelike that you felt as if you could actually reach out and touch its delicate petals or breathe in its intoxicating perfume. Her work was art in every sense of the word. It showed what she was passionate about, through her eyes. Additionally, she looked forward to going on hunting trips with her father, and found some measure of inner peace by camping, solo, under the stars near a lake. She always returned rejuvenated, with a renewed sense of purpose.

After approximately a year of being online friends and chatting from time to time via Facebook messenger, Bre decided to deactivate her account for an undetermined period of time in order to get back in touch with herself (she would do this somewhat regularly in the years to follow.) At that time, we exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch by way of semi-regular texts and far-less-frequent phone calls (even loquacious Gemini doesn’t like to talk on the phone much these days.) We developed a fairly close friendship, sharing our backgrounds and life experiences. On the surface, it would appear we had little in common: she, a 30-something bachelorette with no children; me, ten years her senior, thrice married with grown children and grandchildren. But despite these differences, we discovered we had a surprising number of things in common, including a shared history of depression and anxiety, suicidal ideations, and estrangement from our mothers. Turns out, our mothers also had quite a bit in common, as they are both narcissistic, toxic she-devils whom we removed from our lives for our own emotional well-being. Bre felt as if a black cloud had lifted when she ceased contact with her mother, and I related to that sentiment.

However, there was one significant difference between Bre and I. I had conquered my

breiannacamping

One of Bre’s camping spots

demons and managed to overcome my depressive tendencies and desire for death. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my friend. On Valentine’s Day 2016, she posted a cryptic status update on Facebook, deactivated her account, and essentially disappeared for nearly two months. Her phone was disconnected, so my attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. Leaving me to assume the worst, I reluctantly did online searches for an obituary, simultaneously needing to know yet dreading what I might find. I was relieved to not have found one, but wondering what had happened to her nagged at me constantly.

In mid-April 2016, to the relief of many, myself included, Bre finally resurfaced on Facebook. As it happens, she had survived a Valentine’s Day attempt at suicide by overdose and had been receiving intensive treatment. Her spirits were higher than I could ever remember them being, and she became devoted to helping others who struggled with major depressive disorder and suicidal thoughts, in particular. She created a private Facebook group, calling it “Heathens Helping Heathens.” It was a virtual sanctuary where non-religious members could share their frightening feelings without fear of judgment or ridicule. She was extremely vocal about her own experiences, and shared them in an effort to let others who might be feeling the same way know that someone understood their pain, and that there truly was hope in their darkest hours.

Bre suffered from BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder – and she didn’t hesitate to talk about it with anyone who asked (or even those who didn’t – in true Gemini form.) She wanted to educate others on BPD, as well as provide an explanation of her own at-times confusing behavior to those who cared about her. She displayed textbook characteristics of BPD, including emotional instability, impulsiveness, and – perhaps most visibly – a propensity for pushing others away in an effort to prevent them from abandoning her first. Her romantic relationships were historically unstable, in large part because of this. Granted, there was the real asshole here and there, which exacerbated her condition. But in the spring of 2016, she had finally found love with a man who not only loved her and accepted her for who she was, but also with the patience and willingness to stick by her. She treasured him, and often told me how happy she was, that she was so lucky and thankful to have him. Even so, this relationship was no different in the sense that it too was marked by erratic changes in her mood, which were inexplicable to the casual observer. Sometimes they would appear out of nowhere, seemingly unprovoked. She would become despondent, sometimes even furious, and withdraw from the world, refusing to answer her phone or respond to text messages, leaving him to grapple with the fear that she had once again attempted to end her life.

On Father’s Day in June 2016, her boyfriend contacted me, concerned about Bre’s welfare. He nervously described how she had sent him a text the previous evening, which sounded as though it could have possibly been a suicide note, with statements such as “I will never be happy” and “I was stupid to think this could work.” He didn’t live nearby and had been unable to reach her since. I hadn’t heard from her either so after multiple failed attempts to contact her myself, I called her local police department and asked them to do a welfare check on her. They did, and I received a call from them confirming that they had made contact with her and she was safe. About the same time, I received a text message from Bre, apologizing for scaring me and reassuring me that I “did the right thing.” (She had always stressed to others that if you even suspect someone might be in imminent danger of harming themselves, to “fuck what they think; let them be pissed off” and to contact the authorities.)

I never thought it would come to this
And I want you to know
Everyone’s got to face down the demons
Maybe today we can put the past away
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in
And if you do not want to see me again
I would understand.

Third-Eye Blind, Jumper

In the meantime, I had developed a solid friendship with her boyfriend. When Bre was in the throes of her severe mood swings, often breaking off their relationship (the “I’m rejecting you before you can reject me” strategy which is commonplace among BPD sufferers), he would confide in me about how it affected him, and I would listen and attempt to reassure him. I did the same with her, and I always kept each conversation confidential, never running and telling the other what was said.  I was Switzerland; I never once “sided” with either of them, but I always made a point to listen and empathize. Still, after one particularly nasty blowup, her boyfriend made a Facebook status about them having broken up once again. Bre hadn’t told me about it this time, so I was surprised to hear about it. I made an innocent comment about how I was sorry to hear it and that I was here for him if he needed to vent. Evidently, another friend of Bre’s saw my comment and told Bre about it. I went to message Bre to ask her if she was okay and see if she needed to talk about what had happened. That’s when I discovered she had blocked me, never having given me the chance to tell her the same thing I had told him: that I was sorry and I was there for her.

I never heard from Bre again.

breiannasunset

A Wisconsin sunset thru Bre’s eyes

Thereafter, she and her boyfriend did reconcile and break up at least one more time. Because he and I had maintained a friendship, I often asked him to keep me posted on how she was doing. I told him I still loved her, missed her terribly, and wished her no ill will. I only regretted that she had never given me the opportunity to talk to her, instead choosing to reject me without warning or explanation. I hoped that one day, she would see things differently, and suspected she might, given her history of changeability (courtesy of an already-flighty Gemini Sun, amplified by BPD.)

Thursday evening, September 8, 2016: I was heading home from a trip to Arizona I had taken with some close friends. We had stopped for a snack in Tucumcari, New Mexico and as I stood outside, walking around and stretching my legs, I checked in on Facebook. The blood drained from my face when I read the first post in my newsfeed. A mutual friend of Bre’s and mine had posted that Bre had passed away.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I didn’t want to believe it. I thought she had been doing better? I hoped she was just pulling some kind of twisted, attention-seeking stunt, perhaps to see who would care if she died. Or maybe it was a misunderstanding? My fingers were shaking as I quickly sent a message to her boyfriend. “What happened????” I pleaded. He responded that he was still in shock and didn’t want to go into detail just yet, but that she had been found dead earlier that day and it appeared to be a suicide. I remember being infuriated with Bre. “What the fuck?” I shouted, looking all around as if I thought I would see her, or that she would hear me.

The rest of the drive home was almost completely silent as I tried to wrap my mind around the news: Bre was really gone.

As awful as all that was, a few days later it became even more heartbreaking. I learned that Bre had died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound…on August 29th. She lay in her apartment for the next ten days, undiscovered, until neighbors alerted authorities that her car hadn’t moved in some time and her trash hadn’t been taken out.

As is typical with a suicide, there are so many unanswered questions that linger in the minds of the survivors. In Bre’s case, we often wonder how long she had intended to do it, and in the manner that she did. Although she did leave a note, no indication of any of that was mentioned. However, she did blame her mother for it coming to this, and request that she not be allowed to attend her funeral. Aside from that, there were no answers. They likely never will be.

One thing that can’t be denied is that Bre wanted to die. She didn’t reach out beforehand. Sure, in hindsight, there were subtle hints at what was to come, but they were so vague that no reasonable person would have concluded that she was planning to end her life. We do know that she borrowed money from her father just before her death, telling him it was to pay her past-due rent but instead, used it to purchase the gun which she would then turn on herself. We don’t know, but suspect, that she was heavily intoxicated when she did it. We don’t know, but suspect, she had known she was going to do it for up to four weeks beforehand, based on particular events and, in hindsight, a few statements she made which, at the time, seemed innocuous.

Her boyfriend repeatedly admonishes himself to this day, going over the shoulda-coulda-wouldas, wondering how he didn’t pick up on any clues. However, at the time, no one could have possibly known they were clues. For example, the day prior to her death, Bre stated in a text message that she was to enter inpatient treatment the following day, and that reassured him that “it’s almost over.” He replied that he loved her and would be there, waiting for her when she came home. Any rational person would not have interpreted that statement to be anything but benign.

Sometimes, there’s nothing we can do, or could have done, to prevent it.
Sometimes, a person doesn’t reach out because they don’t want to be saved.

depressionBre battled her demons for most of her 34 years on this earth. In the end, she succumbed to them. This lovely, talented, young, vibrant Gemini had so much more to offer the world, but she obviously disagreed. However, there is no doubt that she would want her story told…even if it saves one person. BPD can be managed. Although Bre thrived in the early days of her recovery, for whatever reason(s) she slipped and it overtook her. It wasn’t necessarily inevitable, but I believe once she reached a certain point – and we’ll never know when or what that was – it became probable.

I am currently in the process of conducting an in-depth interview with Bre’s boyfriend, with whom I have grown close, as an accompaniment to this story which I will publish in the near future. In our lengthy discussion, he opens up about his experience being in a relationship with someone who suffers from BPD as well as being a survivor of suicide, in order to pick up the torch which Bre left behind, and with the hope that if just one person is helped by her story, her death will not have been in vain.

Stay tuned.

Someone tried to tell me something
Don’t let the world get you down
Nothing will do me in before I do myself
So save it for your own and the ones you can help.

Soundgarden, Blow up the Outside World

That’s What Friends With Benefits Are For

“What exactly does that expression mean, ‘friends with benefits?’ Does he provide her with health insurance?”           ~ Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

Well, it doesn’t work quite like that, Dr. Cooper. Although it’d be tremendously helpful if it did; I could use a good medical plan.
Though it’s come to the forefront of American culture in only the last decade or so, the concept of friends with benefits (FWB) isn’t new. The human creature is a pack animal and craves physical closeness. But what if you don’t have someone to be physically close with on a regular basis? What about single/divorced/widowed folks?

Use your phone-a-friend option. But before you dial, consider a few noteworthy points:

• Do you become emotionally attached easily?
• Are you particularly jealous by nature?
• Is there a possibility you have romantic feelings for your friend – or vice versa?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, put down the phone. Now. Remove the battery if you have to. Take a cold shower. A FWB arrangement is probably not the best idea for you.

If you’re a subscriber or you know me personally, you’re already painfully aware I’m a textbook Aries. As such, I have a jealous streak – but it’s not one of the usual flavor. My jealousy doesn’t originate from a place of insecurity, but rather from a desire to be Number One. I want to be at the center of your attention – not her, not him, not them – me, me, me! However, I also have a Pisces Ascendant, a wistful water sign which is prone to jealousy, and to top it off, my Moon is in Aquarius, which is a detached, ain’t-no-thang air sign, one of the least inclined to jealousy in the zodiac. So what effect does this astrological train wreck have on a person?

The Moon rules the emotions and how we see ourselves. An Aquarius Moon reveals a lighthearted, take-it-or-leave-it attitude in matters of the heart…or so I’d like to think (self-image). The Ascendant is our public persona; how we appear to others. A Pisces Ascendant appears to be a sentimental dreamer (the bastard water sign cousin to Cancer) whose head is in the clouds and is easily hurt. But as my witty Aquarius friend likes to remind me, the Sun always shines. It is the essence of our character. Put ‘em all together, what do you get? A stubborn person who needs to stand out above the rest (Aries Sun), comes across as an overly-sensitive airhead (Pisces Ascendant), all the while telling myself it’s all good, I don’t need all that mushy-gushy lovey crap (Aquarius Moon). Translation: I’m more jealous and become attached more easily/quickly than I tend to believe. Finally, just for fun, let’s go ahead and throw in a Venus in Gemini, which indicates I’m rather aloof, flirty, and (allegedly) unfaithful in love (a whole ‘nother topic; we’ll delve into that another time). It boils down to basically not knowing what I want…and just when I think I’ve figured it out, I change my mind (props to my Moon and Venus air signs for that one.)

After moving to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2011, I began a FWB arrangement with my oft-referred-to hippie Aquarius tree friend who shares my passion for astrology. While I can’t speak for him, it worked out beautifully on my end (no pun intended). I never felt the spark of a “relationship connection” with my friend (which surprised me, because he has qualities that I find wildly attractive: extreme intelligence, sharp wit, and a wicked sense of humor). But I did have a physical attraction to him…and well, I do like sex. So, as roommates, we shared a home, but as FWB we shared a bed and our bodies. Outside the bedroom, we went to movies, went out to eat, laughed, watched TV, had long conversations, argued incessantly over what does/doesn’t constitute a curb and whether it’s a “cue-pon” or a “coo-pon” (debates which are still in progress today), smoked weed, shopped, cooked – but as friends. And it was a blast! I had the best time being in the company of my quirky Aquarian friend. And as “just friends,” there was no hand-holding, no kissing, no hugging, no terms of endearment (unless you count “hooker” or “dumbass”), no displays of affection like you might witness with two people in a relationship. The only difference between us and any other pair of friends was, about once every week or two, give or take, as needed, we would provide, ahem, benefits for the other. For me, the main benefit was human (sexual) contact.

Alas, there comes a time in the life of every Aquarian tree genius when he feels he is ready and needs to move on. My Aquarian amigo was no different. One of his reasons being, as roommates/FWB, although we weren’t a committed couple, we didn’t sleep with other people during the time we were roommates/FWB because it wouldn’t have been right. “Bad juju,” he called it. At the same time, we both had close friends of the opposite sex to whom we spoke regularly, and neither of us thought anything of it. But when my free-spirited Aquarian friend moved out, taking the benefits with him, my reaction surprised even me: I was jealous!  I felt like I was going through a breakup and it stung. Knowing he had developed an interest in another woman, I was crushed. I cried, I (over)analyzed the situation, trying anything to figure out what was going on inside me. Major depression set in. But why? I didn’t think of him That Way. Or wait, did I, and hadn’t realized it until now? Even worse, had I – gulp – fallen in love with my friend? The unanswered questions constantly gnawed at me.                                            

With the benefit of hindsight (and industrial-strength antidepressants), I was able to pinpoint it. I was jealous; there’s no denying that. But why, and over someone with whom I wasn’t even interested in having a relationship? A few reasons, I discovered. First, I wasn’t Number One anymore. There was actually someone else he wanted to be around more than he did me. Secondly, I realized I had developed an emotional attachment – and quite a significant one at that. I understood that it had nothing to do with falling in love with my FWB. This wonderful, witty Aquarian had breezed into my life at a time when I had never felt more alone. He was my metaphorical crutch. He was there for me physically and emotionally when I really needed someone. He genuinely cared about me and about what happened to me during a very painful period in my life when it felt like no one else did. While the FWB situation had served my urges for human contact quite nicely, thank you very much, what I failed to recognize was that our hookups  had provided me with a physical closeness which helped me feel more emotionally secure given the frame of mind I was in – post-breakup of an eight-year relationship, recent long-distance move, and other major life changes. My Water Bearer had also distracted me from the grief I was attempting to keep at bay. With him out of the picture – well, out of the house, anyway – I no longer had the distraction, nor did I have the – albeit false – sense of emotional security. I was now, more or less, alone with my own thoughts, and way too many painful ones. I had too much time on my hands to think after he was gone. I felt naked, alone, and abandoned. And terrified.

Even so, I still believe I’m capable of being involved in another FWB situation. If I were to enter into another arrangement like that, however, I would have to be certain I was in a less vulnerable place in my life. I would have to be absolutely positive I was doing it solely for the sexual pleasure and not as a distraction or to fill an emotional void. None of this is meant to imply I was only using my Aquarian FWB; while it’s now clear I used him sexually for emotional support on a subconscious level, rather than for sexual pleasure, he was, and still is, one of my closest, most treasured friends.

That said, I’d be a liar if I said his impressive physical endowment hadn’t been a huge bonus. Pun intended.

Searching For The Silver Lining

“You say it’s over, I can sigh again, yeah
Why try to stay sober when I’m dying here
And I am aware now of how
Everything’s gonna be fine
One day, too late, I’m in hell
I am prepared now
Seems everyone’s gonna be fine
One day too late; just as well.” ~ “Fine Again,” Seether

Grief is a curious emotion. You can be awash in it, yet experience contentment, even happiness. At other times, often at the drop of a hat, you might feel helplessly consumed by it. It cleanses us, yet we may feel we are drowning in it. We reject it, yet we need it. It frees us to move forward, yet we feel imprisoned by it. To borrow a wise Aquarian friend’s observation, it is “an oxymoron wrapped in a conundrum.” While that might be true, the blunt reality is, I hate every second of grief’s intrusion into my thoughts, my dreams, my life.

My Leo girlfriend (left); with Yours Truly…gettin a lil tipsy

Yesterday, I felt pretty good. I was at least slightly optimistic about the future. I had a great night out, letting loose and just rolling with it. My insistent Leo girlfriend and I went to a club and there’s just no nice way to put it: we got trashed. My Cancer-cusp ex used to joke that I was a cheap date: just three or four beers and I was good to go. He wasn’t wrong. But I had fun. Flirting a little, not on a mission to find my next potential significant other, just enjoying myself, the people, the music, the beer. I enjoyed myself so much, in fact, that by the time we arrived back at the house, I surrendered to the inevitable before I could even reach the front porch, dropped to my knees, and puked like a drunk teenager right in the front yard. I passed out shortly thereafter. What a night. A night I needed.

and…drunk.

Today, however, is a different story.  Nothing has changed, nothing is different in any way from this same time yesterday. I’m not sure what I’m feeling, but the best way to describe it would be tired (goes without saying), a bit weepy, slightly pessimistic, a little wistful, highly unmotivated, and maybe somewhat overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by what; I’m not sure. Maybe by so many different emotions, or maybe because I know I still have a long road ahead of me in this journey. Some might say these emotions are a kind of hangover and while that’s plausible, I believe it goes beyond that. The aftereffects of alcohol probably have amplified whatever is lying beneath my surface. Regardless of the origin of these feelings, they sting.

And so the grieving continues. I want so badly to block it out, to distract myself, but I know better than that now. I spent over a year blocking and distracting, and I’m paying for it now. If I had allowed the process to occur naturally, I would surely be nearing the end of it or possibly even past it today. But by delaying the inevitable, I have only succeeded in prolonging the agony. I don’t want to feel this pain for one moment longer than necessary. So I take a deep breath and let it in. All of it. It’s as if I’ve extended an open invitation for grief to enter my life, announcing to it, “all right, come on in, painful feelings; let’s do this thing and get it over with.”

“Everything’ll be fine,” my perpetually upbeat Leo friend tells me. I know she’s right. I just hate waiting for everything to be fine again.