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

Suicide Solution: Friends To The End

depressionShe eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak…
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks…
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap…
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black. ~ Nirvana, Heart-Shaped Box

It’s no secret that I frequently lament being saddled with a depressive Pisces Ascendant, particularly on the occasions when it rears its moody head and I find myself wallowing in actual or perceived misery. That said, it would be ludicrous of me to blame every bout of melancholy solely on having a watery rising sign. But hey, it’s my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to.

Even so, I stand by my previous assertion that the zodiac sign most likely to struggle with suicidal ideations is none other than the Fishes. Furthermore, this is the sign that is one of the more susceptible to depression (obviously) as well as substance abuse. Pisces is the sign of the dreamer, the sign of shoulda – woulda – coulda, the sentimental poet, forever wishing things to be as they once were, or at least different from the way they perceive things to currently be.

I should probably point out here that I am not saying every poor bastard on the planet who has a Pisces Sun, Ascendant, or Moon is doomed to a miserable existence. What I am saying is that the rose-colored glasses through which many of these folks view the world certainly can and frequently does predispose them to issues with depressive disorders. The all-too-true story that follows is a personal example. It is also one I desperately wish had never happened for me to be able to tell it.

My younger son, a 17 year-old Taurus-Gemini cusp, was always…well…different, right from the get-go. He wasn’t reaching certain developmental milestones as expected, such as rolling over, crawling, becoming more mobile. After several months of physical exams and neurological evaluations, along with weekly in-home sessions with a pediatric physical therapist, his doctor finally declared that there was nothing physically wrong with my baby boy and “he could do these things if he wanted to, but for some reason, he doesn’t want to.” As predicted, it was as if he simply decided he wanted to one day when, a few months shy of his second birthday, he took off walking like a pro.

Over the next fourteen years, he exhibited other unusual traits as well as some turbulent emotional issues, and was at one time or another diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ODD, IED, OCD, major childhood depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, among a plethora of additional emotional disorders identified by their initials. It wasn’t until my Taurus cusp son was approaching his sixteenth birthday that he was properly diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome (AS), which is a high functioning form of autism, and which in hindsight explained everything perfectly, right down to the developmental delays in infancy and toddlerhood. He was also re-evaluated for the conditions he’d previously been diagnosed as having…and was found not to meet the diagnostic criteria for any of them. Because there are no “blanket” medications for Asperger’s as a whole (only for individual issues that may arise because of it), for the first time in nearly eleven years, his doctor ordered him to stop all of his medications. Almost immediately, there was a significant improvement in every aspect of his life with which he had previously struggled. Although I felt vindicated and relieved that he had finally received a correct diagnosis, I was — and still am — extremely angry that because it took so long to obtain the diagnosis, my son suffered needlessly for years when he could have been being properly treated with, for example, occupational therapy. But I digress… (and this is definitely the subject of a future post.)

imagesCAM1A5WLI wish I was like you
Easily amused…
Find my nest of salt
Everything’s my fault. ~ Nirvana, All Apologies

Anywho, “Aspies,” as they are sometimes called, are often extremely intelligent with well-above average IQs (my son’s IQ is nearly 140), possess extensive vocabulary skills, and have an uncanny ability to commit things to memory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with AS, let me try to paint you at least part of a picture. If you are a fan of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, you no doubt know the eccentric character Sheldon Cooper (flawlessly and hilariously portrayed by Jim Parsons). Sheldon is a Nobel prize-aspiring theoretical physicist, a socially inept genius with a memory like a steel trap who constantly reminds others of his superior intelligence. And although the show’s creators deny the character has it, Sheldon Cooper exhibits some of the textbook features of AS. Even Jim Parsons has stated he believes Sheldon has AS, and other Aspies frequently recognize themselves in Sheldon as well.

During the time my Aspie son and I lived in Arkansas, he met and became instant best friends with Kevin, a Pisces not quite three months older than he, and who had shared many of the same struggles. Although my young Bull tells me he always suspected Kevin was an Aspie, in addition to Kevin “liking” some autism pages on Facebook, it was something that they never talked about; furthermore, my son never mentioned that he himself was an Aspie because “[he] didn’t feel like it was important.” And I suppose it really wasn’t. What mattered was that they each recognized a kindred spirit in the other, whatever the reason.

From Kevin's Facebook page...ironically, posted as a joke several months prior to his death

From Kevin’s Facebook page…ironically, posted as a joke several months prior to his death

Again last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly how it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they’d like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November
Don’t wake me, I plan on sleeping in. ~ The Postal Service, Sleeping In

Have you ever met someone and just clicked immediately, as though you had known each other forever? Well, that was how it was with these two. When they weren’t together in school, they were laughing and chatting via headsets as they played Xbox Live, texting or talking on the phone, Facebooking, or hanging out on weekends, almost exclusively at the house in which Kevin lived with his aunt. And when we moved out-of-state last summer, the miles that now separated these kindred spirits mattered not; they remained every bit as close as they had been since day one. The all-night Xbox Live marathons continued, as did the texting, the phone calls, and the Facebooking, literally on a daily basis. More recently, they had begun to discuss the idea of becoming roommates after their eighteenth birthdays next year. They considered relocating to Oklahoma or Kansas to do the roomie thing, or perhaps the possibility of Kevin heading out to Arizona where my teenage Bull currently resides.

This 17 year-old Piscean, in my opinion, was probably somewhat misunderstood by those who hadn’t taken the time to really know him. Not unlike my own son, he had a wicked, albeit dark sense of humor, which many people weren’t always sure how to take. He was also extraordinarily intelligent with a well-above average IQ. On the few occasions I met him, he struck me as being remarkably similar to my own son, which is probably why I liked him. Kevin thrived on attention, even if it was for something negative. Like my teenage Bull, he too had had a few skirmishes with the law and subsequently found himself on probation. Additionally, like my son, he clearly enjoyed saying things for shock value, to get a reaction.

Tragically, I can’t help but wonder if this was at least partly the reason that no one responded — and one person actually “liked” it — when this young Pisces posted a suicide note on his Facebook page.

imagesCA5V4B8KFuck critics, fuck your review
Even if you like me, fuck you;
Fuck your mom, fuck your mom’s mama
Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama. ~ Insane Clown Posse, Fuck The World

A chilling status update, less than 24 hours prior to his death

A disturbing status update, less than 24 hours prior to his death

If there’s anything I am capable of understanding, it’s how someone can get into the mindframe where dying sounds like a great idea. I’m no stranger to suicidal ideations; I’ve been there myself…many times. Fortunately, it’s been quite some time since I last seriously considered or even flirted with the notion of closing my eyes in eternal slumber. What I can’t seem to grasp, however, is how or why someone would deliberately choose a painful, prolonged, agonizing method in which to exit their life. Intense hatred of oneself? Seems obvious, but surely there’s more to it than that…right?

Or, maybe there isn’t. Maybe the reason really is that simple…so deceptively simple we look right past it.

A look through this troubled teenage Piscean’s Facebook timeline reveals a glimpse into at least a snippet of what was going through his

Truly, a thousand words...posted several months prior to his death

Truly, a thousand words…posted several months prior to his death

head in the months, days, hours, even minutes before he took deliberate action to bring about his own demise. There are posts, pictures, and videos (mostly shared, not original) that are thought-provoking, nonsensical, hilarious, spot-on observant, disgusting, intelligent, offensive, laugh-out-loud funny, and somewhat disturbing, yet they are all intriguing when you consider the frame of mind of the individual who posted them.

Yeah, it's funny. But I suspect Kevin was less like "Tim" than he realized...

Yeah, it’s funny. I believe Kevin wanted to be like “Tim” and probably even thought he was. But I suspect he was more like “everyone” than he realized, or would care to admit…

Jace is my teenage Bull. And best friends, they definitely were.

Jace is my teenage Bull. And best friends, they definitely were.

1175700_617537378286689_1330557955_n

Ha! Great advice. I do it all the time.

There are so many more. Entirely too many to even think about sharing all of them, or even most of them. But this is just a sampling. This sharp, quick-witted Piscean definitely had a sense of humor.

kevinleaving8am04sept2013One of the last images Kevin uploaded to his timeline is one that hopefully won’t haunt my grieving Taurus son for the rest of his days. It is a screenshot of an undated chat conversation between the two of them, in which he tagged my Aspie Bull, posted at 8am CDT on the day of his death. As you can see, Kevin states, “I’m leaving.” And…he did. But not before crafting at least two suicide notes: a wistful, heartfelt yet brief message which he sent privately to my son, wishing him all the best in life and telling my son he loved him, and a more angst-filled second one announcing his intentions to Facebook.

Capture9

This horrific declaration was posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 12:22pm CDT.

Sadly, this time it wasn’t solely for shock value. After posting this bitter letter to the world at large, 17 year-old Kevin did exactly what he stated he would do. He doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire outside his grandmother’s home. He was rushed to the children’s burn center, with burns covering 99% of his body.

imagesCAW7ACN0Nothing is real but pain now…
Hold my breath as I wish for death;
Oh please God, wake me… ~ Metallica, One

Kevin passed away at 11:20pm CDT that evening, surrounded by his devastated family including his father, stepmother, stepsister and stepbrother in-law, and the grief-stricken grandmother at whose home it all took place.

Why was this sweet little Pisces such a tortured soul?

What kind of inner turmoil eventually drove this happy little boy to take his own life…and in such a horrific way?

Suicides by burning, or self-immolation, while common in countries such as India and Afghanistan, account for less than one percent of all suicides in the U.S. How does someone get to the point of such sheer desperation? What has to take place in a person’s life that is so unbearable that they find not just death, but a fiery, violent, excruciatingly painful death preferable? Why would anyone purposely choose such a torturous manner of death? Was it a big “fuck you” to the world on his way out? One final statement for shock value? A protest against what he viewed as all the wrongs in the world, as he mentioned in his post about self-immolation? To punish the folks in his life he resented? Did he simply hate himself that much? All of the above? None of the above?

By all accounts, Kevin had a loving, caring family. He frequently claimed that no one cared, that no one wanted him around…but this was certainly not the case, evidenced by the unimaginable grief, the tears shed by so many who can’t understand why he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe he was truly loved and wanted. Why couldn’t, or didn’t he believe this?

Soooo not true.

Maybe Kevin hated himself so much that he didn’t believe it was possible for anyone to love or care about him, and/or perhaps he didn’t feel that he was worthy of anyone’s love. His chosen method of suicide is certainly steeped in intense self-hatred. Although the rest of us can see quite clearly that was absolutely not true, that he was worthy and he was loved, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, whatever the reason, it was Kevin’s reality. Our perceptions are our reality.

And, just maybe, it’s not for anyone else to understand the goings-on inside the exceptional mind of this tortured Piscean soul. We can wax philosophical all day long and never will we know with 100 percent certainty why this young man with the potential to be anything, to do anything, chose to exit this life when and in the way he did.

The last song Kevin listened to was this cover of Cheap Trick's classic "I Want You to Want Me" by Gary Jules

The last song Kevin listened to was this cover of Cheap Trick’s classic “I Want You to Want Me” by Gary Jules

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’…
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?
I want you to want me…
I need you to need me…
I’d love you to love me. ~ Cheap Trick (covered by Gary Jules), I Want You To Want Me

I hope and pray that he has found the peace in death which evidently eluded him during his way too brief lifetime.

Rest well, sweetie. We’ll see you on the Other Side.

Rest well, sweet Kevin... February 26, 1996 - September 4, 2013

Rest well, sweet Kevin…
February 26, 1996 – September 4, 2013

I have lost the will to live…
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me…
Need the end to set me free
Things not what they used to be…
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can’t be real…
Cannot stand this hell I feel. ~ Metallica, Fade to Black


NOTE: I will be participating on behalf of Team Kevin in the 2013 Little Rock Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention on November 2. If you would like to take part, or simply make a donation (no matter how small), please visit Team Kevin’s AFSP fundraising page.