We have suicide prevention hotlines. This means suicide is preventable. This means Zachary didn’t have to die. It means he could have been saved. It means that it was not his appointed time to go. This means it is MY fault.
Before you try to defend me, please hear me out. I have multiple mental health diagnoses. Primary being Borderline Personality Disorder, followed by Bi-Polar Disorder, with a side of OCD, panic and anxiety disorder, and anorexia. (The anorexia may be cured given the fact that I have gone from a size 4 to a size 8 since my Dad passed 1/7/2013. Apparently, I am eating my grief.) I have been in and out of treatment since I was 26 years old. I understand a lot about mental health in general, suffering from it, being treated for it and suicidal thoughts and even suicide attempts. I know the warning signs and behaviors of a person who needs treatment. I knew my son needed help. I had asked him to let me arrange help, I had offered to pay for treatment, I had pushed for in-patient treatment. He said no to all of it. He was medically non-compliant.
I dropped the ball. When he said he was better; I put on my rose-colored glasses and pretended to see improvement. It was less exhausting than trying to help a mentally ill person while being a mentally ill person. I allowed myself to pull back and let my 21-year-old son deal with his mental illness in his own way. What the hell was I thinking? I should have known better. I, of all people, should have understood how bad things really were. Instead of insisting he get professional help, I just nagged about the things in his life that were contributing to his depressed state. And the days I saw him smiling brightly, I allowed myself to believe that really he would be okay without treatment.
There are none so blind as those who will not see. I choose blindness. I feared he may commit suicide everyday since his 6th grade year. Everyday, I was afraid of his bedroom door. What would I find on the other side when it was time to wake him for school? It was nerve-racking, painful, and horrifying. I thanked God each day that he answered me from the other side of that door. It is painful to admit that in a really selfish way, I am glad that I no longer have to fear that door. I never again have to hold my breath and wait for an answer. Yet, I feel so very responsible that he is gone. Suicide should not have been the solution to my fear of his bedroom door. Proper treatment should have been the solution.
Every brick wall we hit over the years stopped me in my tracks. I should have pushed harder for an actual diagnosis. I should not have let professionals tell me that I didn’t want to label him so early in life. Why the hell are labels a bad thing anyway? My favorite sweater has a label. That’s not bad. It just gives proper information on how to take the best care of my sweater. If my son had a label, I would have had the right information on how to take the best care of him. I don’t know if his mental health diagnosis would have been the same as mine or something completely different. (I always suspected he suffered from schizophrenia.) I only know that I should have dug deeper, pushed harder, and never given up.
It was my fault, God please forgive me and help me forgive myself.