Daring to be vulnerable: Sharing My Story

Dave and I have been doing better.  Dave’s been working on finishing a post for my blog. I asked him about authoring a post when I first set my blog up.  I let him know, no pressure, only if he felt ready.

Making public disclosures, is hard, even for myself, it’s hard to self-identify as the partner of a person who made a suicide attempt, hence the “private pain,” as the key words in my blog’s name.  In my posts I don’t use my real name, or Dave’s partly to protect Dave’s identity, but also to protect my own.

I was on Facebook’s, American Association of Suicidology page, and found a link to this NY Times post


about the hidden population of attempt survivors.  The article reported that one factor  in the “invisible” nature of this population was the stigma and shame in self-identifying as an attempt survivor. Another factor was the concern by mental health professionals of the stressors involved in sharing one’s story–that the negative reaction of the audience (or perceived negative receptivity of the audience), for example could trigger an attempt.

Another hidden population not identified in the article, are the people whom are are  the primary audience for this blog–the partners of the individuals that attempt suicide.

I myself believe in the
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Suicidal, Again?!

The night before, Dave was getting his tax papers together for the accountant.  He was late, very late with the taxes. This was his secret. And he had been carrying it for awhile, alone. Financial issues like this set the stage for attempts in the past, so it should not be a surprise that Dave made a gesture.  Nothing life threatening but it’s a red flag.  (I didn’t know about the delayed filing of the taxes at the time, but it makes sense, if he was struggling with that, no wonder he was so sensitive as he was already spinning negative thoughts that can lead him down dark paths).

Seeing him make a gesture, flooded me with my own fears and put me Continue reading

A quick update

I haven’t written a piece for awhile.  I’m going through an intense professional period in my life, and spare time is hard to come by. But I do want to make a quick report that things have been going well for Dave and I.  There have been ups and downs for both of us, but we’ve weathered them well.  We’re still going to couples therapy once a month, and we both go to individual.  Right now I would say–that the individual sessions have really helped us to grow ourselves, and that helps to strengthen us as a couple.

I’m trusting him more now.  I didn’t think there would ever be a day that I would say that.

But even though this has been a pretty rough period for us, as I’ve gotten very busy, and Dave has had to do a bit more for our family–Dave hasn’t tanked.  There were times when we felt overwhelmed, but we got through them.

Dave still went to his automatic, “I should kill myself,” thinking, but he disputed those thoughts quickly, not allowing them to escalate into increased berating of himself and decreased self worth.  Those thoughts will probably always be the first thoughts he has, they’re so ingrained, his knee-jerk response–but he seems to have developed some skills to fight those thoughts off (more later about the deeper changes he’s made regarding his value).

I’m almost through this intense period in my life and it will be nice to be able to give Dave and Beth more attention.  Even though Dave misses my attention, we do quickly kiss each other on the forehead and reassure each other of our love for each other. That Dave can feel tired, overwhelmed but not tank is increasing my trust in him.  I don’t feel as scared and panicked anymore.

That’s my quick update.

Take care.

Suicide education and prevention in the church

Suicide education and prevention in the church.

Above is a link to an important blog by Phil Monroe (Musings of A Christian Psychologist).  I agree with Phil– churches need to address openly the topic of suicide. Dave and I have been blessed to attend a church where the pastor is authentic and invites members to be authentic and share their struggles.

After more than 7 years of growth in therapy we recognized that we needed a church where Dave and I could share about our struggles. For him to share about his journey in overcoming suicidal thoughts as his main coping strategy, and for myself to find a place where I could talk to others about my challenges living with a spouse battling depression and suicide.  Dave says that he feels at home at this new church, and I understand it as being able to be real, and talk openly about his struggles.  We both see the Pastor and congregation as genuinely desiring to offer compassion and grace to address whatever brokeness a person is struggling with.

To get a feel for the church, Dave and I attended a mid-week bible study where Dave felt safe to share a couple of times in his small group about his journey, his attempts and his process of overcoming his long-ingrained suicidal thoughts.  He was able to talk about this topic because the study looked at Judas, in not a condemning way, but from an empathetic, compassionate stand point.

The Sunday following that study, the pastor preached about Judas in a sermon entitled “Why Jesus Couldn’t Reach Judas” Matt 27:1-5, that was a little before Easter.  A couple of weeks ago he preached on depression using Elijah as an example (1 Kings 1:11-19). At the end of his sermon he said the church was going to start a support group for people to openly talk about their psychological/emotional challenges.

Dave said he wants to join the group. And I will too.  It’s my heart to find ways to decrease the stigma around suicide–which I believe keeps people from seeking the help they need. This group may be one way for Dave to start talking about and receiving acceptance, grace and compassion. Dave and I are looking forward to this new journey and to see what God has in store for us.

Ups and Downs of Trust Building: Trust earned and lost over time.

Yesterday, I spoke to Beth about trust. Recently Dave and I allowed Beth to stay in the house alone while Dave and I went for walks in our neighborhood.  She’s been irritated toward me and I asked her why and she said because I didn’t trust her to stay home alone for longer periods of time.

I told her that trust was something that could go up and down depending on what a person did.  Trust could be earned and lost over time.

The other night we Continue reading