Suicide & Supportive Words From Missy Elliott
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Mum tried to kill herself Monday night while I slept in the bedroom across from hers. I found her the next day as she woke up from an overdose of morphine. We had just been to the doctor to get something for the constant pain that she is in because of this fucking disease. I am trying to process what happened, between endless tears and anxiety attacks, and figure out where we go from here. I have only told one person so far, a very good friend, AnneMarie, who lives on the other side of the world. I have people around me to whom I can confide, yet I am struggling to find the words and the courage to reach out. I made a couple of phone calls which were not answered. It's the surreal thing about this experience right now: I witnessed and experienced this alone, mum does not remember yesterday. I heard her call my name, and as I walked towards her bedroom asking if she was ok I was not prepared for what Tuesday the 19th of June 2018 became.
She was, at that stage, cracked out. Her eyeballs looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets as she told me not to "make me breakfast because I tried to commit suicide, but it did not work". I felt intense pain at the revelation and burst into a tearful panic. I went to get the activated charcoal first and gave it to her. I asked her when she had taken the pills, and she told me last night but that she had vomited shortly after. She vehemently refused the hospital and told me that it clearly hadn't work, and therefore she was ok. She was hyper yet calm in an eerie way; I could catch glimpses of my mum, and then she seemed in another world, answering questions in an incoherent manner and looking like she was somewhere else... She was, for most of Tuesday afternoon.
I went through a process of detox with her. She took 50 pills and I have no way of knowing how many of those remained in her system, but she was 100% tripping when I found her. She must have drunk 2 litres of liquid in the space of 30 minus. I was focused on getting all the morphine out of her system but also concerned that the overdose had done permanent damage to an already very unwell and tiny woman. I asked her about what had happened and tried to get more details but did not get clear answers, so I proceeded to ask her about the year and month we were in. She responded 2014 before changing quickly to 2018. When asked about the month she insisted on it being December even though we are going through a major heatwave right now with highs of 40+ degrees. I sat there on her bed studying her every move and attempting to decode the mixed answers she was giving. Through unstoppable tears I begged her to stay with me, stay with me. She responded to that request by telling me that she wasn't dead; I looked into her eyes and said: "That is not what I mean mum, I love you, stay with me."
I made a juice to help her hydrate and get some form of nutrients into her fragile body which I already knew would not be able to be fed solid food that day. She drank it all, commenting that she was so thirsty. I then gave her a foot bath and scrub with soapy water to which I added peppermint, rosemary and lavender essential oils. It feels so surreal writing all this. I wanted to take her to the hospital, have her checked, but she wouldn't agree to it, shouting and getting more upset. I did not know how I would get her dressed and to the hospital. Now I read this, and I am thinking that this is what the emergency number is for, yet, at the time, that did not occur to me. I thought she had vomited most of it and I would help her through the detox process. I do not know if I did the right thing by doing what she wanted and stay with her and look after her, but I was in survival mode, for her, and logic is not always part of survival mode I guess. I just knew I wanted to be with her. I was scheduled to teach on Tuesday night for 2 hours and I wanted to tell someone, cancel the classes. I didn't. I gave mum Reiki and herbal teas after herbal teas to help her lymphatic system to work along with bentonite clay and psyllium husk.
Most of all I held her, I gave her kisses and held her hands as I unwillingly envision the thought of losing her on an intellectual level. Times with her were alternated with times when I sat alone in the living room going through my fragmented mind. I debated cancelling my classes and I asked mum if she wanted me to stay. I wanted her to rest and sleep, something she had not done fully yet because she was in the tripping/high stage of the drug. She said I could go. I also wanted to get loads of fruits and vegetables to juice and make smoothies with to start to feed her again the next day. When I came back she was a lot more coherent, almost completely. She told me she had drank a lot and vomited a few times, which was good. I wanted to clean her out in whatever ways it could come out of her body. We laid in bed listening to a beautiful Om Mani Padme Hum chant as I stroke her face and head to calm her down and try to get her to sleep.
Wednesday. Now the come down begins. She is fully mum by Wednesday morning, her eyes are hers again, and I know that today will be tough. Now the numbing effect of the morphine has worn off (due to the litres of liquid, the charcoal and bentonite she alternated in the last 24 hours) and her physical body is in more pain than ever. It would be for anyone after an overdose, but mum has rheumatoid arthritis and I can only imagine that the pain she feels now is something that she had never felt before. Today her body needs to be nourished again. I give her a smoothie for breakfast, but she drinks very little of it. I know she won't be eating a lot today, but she does eat somewhat. Bland food: smoothie, only eggs omelette and avocado. I love her so much, I want her to be free of this disease, I want to free her of all the fucking pain she is feeling, but I can't.
I am a mess right now. I have to answer messages and e-mails and pretend that this is not happening. I leave a voice message to a friend of mine about her plans for the weekend and end the message crying. Of course, she asks me what has happened; I do not know what to say, so I tell her I will tell her when I see her. How do I speak about this? To whom? Then the most unexpected person unknowingly offers words of support: Missy Elliott. My mind is restless, I feel nervous and upset. I go on YouTube to find the chant that my mum and I were listening to the day before and on the YouTube homepage there is a video about how good Missy looks these days. I want to be distracted, so I watch, mindlessly to begin with as some YouTube voice-over comments on her appearance. Then the videos shows clips of Missy talking to my screen, telling me to keep my head up if I am having one of those bad, depressed days. As I listen to her words I begin to feel less anxious as well as somewhat amused by the complete random quality of this moment. I love Missy Elliott, be it 1993 Missy or 2018 Missy. I really dig her music and in this precise moment I dig her as a person. Thank you for getting me through Tuesday night Missy.
It is now almost 2am on the morning of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. I cannot sleep, and I cannot talk, so I decided to write so that I can somehow let some of the grief and pain spill onto this screen. I am going to the doctor in the morning to check on my own recent health issues. As I write these words, AnneMarie sends me a message: 'I've got your hand darling-always xoxo'. And for the 100th time today I burst into tears because I need to hear this right now, I need to not feel completely alone.
Summer solstice- I slept a nearly not enough 4 hours last night. I was overwhelmed by anxiety and fear and I felt this profound urge to be with mum. I lay down with her in bed, something which I have not done in a long time. I cry into her chest, and we hold onto each other for a while. My tears have come from many different places and for many different reasons in the last 48 hrs or so. One of them is that I know mum does not want to live any more. I can't write any more about this statement right now.
Mum is in a little less pain today, she is also looking more rested. We talked a bit more yesterday about what happened. I told her about how she was and what she was telling me, she does not remember. A part of me is glad that she doesn't because it scared me. I want to be close to her and comfort her as much as I can. I also have to think about what happens next, and I can't seem to get my brain in order.
I published this post yesterday morning. When I started writing at 2am it was a draft so that I could write what happened and my thoughts and feelings about it. Then later that day I published the post, only to revert it to draft in the evening; the very private person that I am panicked. This is obviously a public platform and I panicked at the thought of letting people into something so private. Then I sat in meditation this morning and decided to publish this again. I created this website to give myself space to talk about things that I love, am passionate about and to be free, so that is what I am doing. Giving myself space to be. I feel the need to write about his experience so that I can understand and remember the details because I feel it is transforming my being in a profound way.
A friend of mine sent me a voice message on Wednesday, but I did not feel like listening to it at the time. When I go through tough moments I usually retreat into myself, so I did not listen to his message until yesterday. I cried, again, listening to his words. He had had a vivid dream of me standing in the corridor of his studio in the UK and reached out to me about working together on teacher trainings. I immediately sent him a message thanking him and telling him how much it meant to me that he had the dream when he did. Richard is one of those people who I instantly felt connected to, we only met in February this year, but his energy has a great resonance. At that moment I realised that the support that I need is coming to me without me going into details right now and that it is ok.
Mum is eating more today, which is very good, and she looks a lot better although very thin still. I just washed her, gave her a foot bath, changed her bed and massaged her. Taking a shower would be too much right now; she has gone to the kitchen once today and yesterday. She has been using her Zimmer frame indoors for a year or maybe a little over a year. It was so disheartening when that day came; this has been one of the most tragic thing about this disease: the slow but unforgiving decline in her physical abilities. Her strength diminishing, things that I take for granted have slowly been disappearing from her routine. She has to gather an enormous amount of momentum and effort just to open the fridge door and gets tired in a matter of minutes. Her hands have also suffered deformities at the joints. In the midst of this overwhelming situation something bright happened today, after I washed her; we sat on her bed and she pointed out that her hands were less inflamed. I looked down at the hand I was holding and noticed that indeed the inflammation in her joints were much less pronounced. And just like that, we smiled together.
For the first time in 4 days I slept 7 hours last night. I was too exhausted to cry any more and faded rapidly into a profound rest. I still look exhausted today; I suppose long periods of crying will do that to the eyes.
I woke up to mum sobbing and when I went to check on her, she had peed on her bedroom floor. She can still use the toilet (although it is a very uncomfortable experience) but, because of how slow she walks, she started having incidents of peeing or soiling herself before making it to the loo. That started to happen sometime at the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 I think. It's difficult to remember the timeline as I have never written about this. After a few episodes of cleaning pee and faeces from her clothes or the floor I suggested buying adult diapers. It was such a hard conversation to have because I knew that she felt ashamed and yet again defeated by a disease that was stripping her from everything: mobility, sleep, physical strength and a sense of personal independence. She refused my suggestion through tears and despair. I didn't push the conversation any further at the time. Then a few weeks later I noticed a plastic bottle whose top had been cut off sitting on her Zimmer frame. She had cut it out so that she could pee in it and later empty it out in the loo hence saving her from soiling herself. She has been doing this for over a year but once in a while, like this morning, she misses.
I haven't spoken to her about it yet but, when I found her on Tuesday, she asked me for a diaper and put it on. I was surprised she wanted it, although it made complete sense; she had just drank 2 litres of liquid and was out of it, so I thought she was thinking ahead. She even asked me to keep another one out for when she would need to change the one she had on. Now I am not sure that it was a fully conscious act as she was without diaper by Wednesday morning and has not worn one ever since.
When I came to live with mum 2 years ago we spoke about the different scenarios regarding the evolution of her disease and what she wanted to do. By that point she had been living with RA for 4 years. It started with pain in her toes. The year it began I had treated myself to a birthday holiday to Spain (my first time here), first visiting Barcelona and then going to Mallorca from there. Mum was living in the UK at the time. I decided to treat her as well and invited her to come to Mallorca with me. When she arrived I noticed that she was walking funny and seemed in pain and was also very clothed for June in Spain. When I asked her about it, she told me it was just an effect of practising Bikram yoga and that her toes were opening up. She had started practising Bikram yoga after visiting me in Ireland and loving it. I told her that she needed to go to the doctor and that practising Bikram or any other type of yoga for that matter was not the culprit for her pain. A month later she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis, 6 months after that Rebecca killed herself. Grieving is challenging, grieving while fighting an auto-immune disease... Four years after being diagnosed, having lost a daughter and steadily losing mobility and independence mum told me she wanted to die if it ever came to the day she would not be able to look after herself at all. I told her I would support her and help with any decision she took. Of course, I did not imagine, at the time, that that day may be in a near future.
Mum took a shower today for the first time since Tuesday and I cut her hair afterwards. She is definitely much better today. I bought CBD oil on Wednesday morning to help with the aches, and I am making her juices and food; generally just making sure that she feels comfortable and clean. It is so eerie and deeply upsetting to think about her alone and in such despair that she decided to take her life. I can’t get rid of the image of her when I found her: out of it, shocked to be alive and deeply disappointed. I keep thinking about all the suffering she has lived, and I feel so powerless. She apologised for causing me pain and I told her I understood why she chose to take those pills. I am upset about what led her to such action more than the act itself; the thought of her in that room, going through all those emotions and deep sadness, makes me sick to my stomach and I want to hold her so tight. Then I start thinking about what to do next, and I feel lost. I am trying my best to stay present.
I went to the beach today, I needed to submerge myself in the ocean and feel supported from all around. I have always loved water, it is an element I feel very comfortable in. Mum is concerned that I am not sleeping well and of whatever is going on with my stomach. She told me not to worry about her today; I thought it was so sweet. I smiled, and I thanked her and I joked that I had planned to go to the beach today anyway. She laughed and approved. It was a good idea, I needed to disconnect a little. I am exhausted as I am writing this, again. I couldn't sleep last night and eventually fell asleep some time after 3am. I think I will sleep well tonight.
I was so tired yesterday that I could barely function, yet, when I got in bed I tossed and turned for a good 30 minutes I think. When I finally fell asleep it was a very disrupted sleep; I kept on waking up every few hours, but I did sleep for 7 or 8 hours I think. My face is so puffed out from a week of shitty sleep and endless crying. I haven't spoken to anyone. I feel myself shutting down a bit more every day. The couple of friends I called at the time without success, sent messages later that week to ask if all was good and that they were there if I needed to talk. I don't really know what to say now, I didn't really know then either, so I just answered I was ok. I don't know what I would achieve now to talk about this. We all go through shit and that's that. I think mum is worried about me, worried that I might be in pain; I am. Actually I just thought about it and I don't know what I am. I obviously know that this is affecting me, but I find it hard to articulate the sensations and the thoughts; that is why writing is somewhat helping. I have been thinking about Rebecca quite a lot in the past week, I don't usually think or let myself think about her so much, but I was thinking that it would be nice to have her here right now. She died before all this shit went down with mum, and now I miss her. I think my brain is overloaded with feelings and thoughts and unanswered questions. Life is fucked up, this world we live in is so fucked up. And yeah there is some beauty in it, that doesn't nearly make up for all the bullshit. I feel angry today, I've been feeling angry. I always had this feeling of not belonging, of being out of place. I know Rebecca did too, she was very sensitive to all the things happening in this world: the violence, the hatred and us killing the planet every day. I don't know why she killed herself, I don't need to know, and I don't care actually, but I know she was suffering. I don't think I am making a lot of sense nor do I feel like I can right now. Maybe I am not making sense because what I am feeling comes from my heart, not this fucking annoying habit I have to try to rationalise everything. I feel angry, lost, fed up and powerless in a world that is continuously disappointing.
I want to disappear, I do not want to be seen. I am walking around in a daze, going through the motions. I cycled home tonight, I often cycle home, but tonight I cycled by the river. I love the light at twilight, it is my favourite time of the day, especially in the summer. The cycle path is paved with trees, now in bloom, with flowers of the most beautiful purple. Against the fading light of the sun, and the calm rhythm of the river I felt a moment of peace. Nature is so soothing. I crave being alone, away from people and city noises.
One week. Time is a strange concept, an illusion according to Einstein. I broke down this morning when I went into my mum's room to check on her. I was talking to her, and then I felt like a punch in my stomach and burst into tears. She apologised again. I told her she didn't need to apologise, I told her that I cry because I can't bear to think about her suffering and despair in that moment. I can't bear that image of her in a stupor. I keep on telling her that I love her, I always told her, but now I want to hold her little body all the time and tell her I love her.
I told another friend of mine today. She is the one I called first after it happened, but she didn't answer at the time. By the time she got back to me in the evening I didn't want to talk, so I made it sound like it was nothing. Then she sent me a voice message on Thursday, to which I didn't reply (Not because of her but because I don't want to talk to anyone). I woke up to another voice message today, she lives in NY, so the time difference is quite significant. She is trying to organise the trip for her birthday later in the year, I said I was going, and now I can't bring myself to think about flights and accommodation. Everything is so uncertain. I suppose it is always, I mean that I don't know what to do about mum. She talked about going back to France to get care there before she tried to end it. It breaks my heart to think that she will end up in a hospice or something like that, but there will be a time (maybe it is already time) where I cannot provide her with what she needs. So I told Lynann this morning, in a voice message, what happened. I was shaking as I went to press the record button and I stayed silent for a good 10 secs before saying the words. I wanted to be as calm and collected as possible when I told her, but the feelings were just too strong, and I cried. I should only mention the times when I don't cry, it would save me some writing. I thought about not telling her, but I felt that 1.she deserved to know, she has a lot of love for my mum and 2. I can't keep dodging phone calls and messages with no explanations. Actually I can but society and etiquette tell us we can't. Fucking technology does my head at times, always connected, always having to answer to something or someone. I am so on edge, irritable. I find solace when I am practising and facilitating classes: moments to disconnect or perhaps re-connect, I don't know.
The more I want to retreat into myself the more people reach out to me without being aware of my current circumstances. That's how life works, right? A friend of mine whom I haven't spoken to in a hot minute just sent me a message. We haven't seen each other in over a year, we live in different countries. Apparently I showed up in his dreams last night, so he got in touch like good friends do when you show up in their dreams, I know I do. He heard whatever I am sending out there, and I am super grateful for it because it is really good to hear from him. I have been missing him. His message doesn't surprise me, I'm touched. Like I said, I am receiving support even when I don't know how to ask for it. I felt somewhat more grounded today, less irritable. I think the energy of the full moon is helping to lift my own energy, although it makes me restless. I gave class this morning and tonight and I felt very connected. Teaching has been surprisingly healing in the past week. Mum is also looking better, although very skinny still, and she doesn't sleep well either. I got her melatonin yesterday, it helped her to get more hours of sleep time. My sleep pattern is also all over the place and I had very vivid dreams last night involving mum; I woke up crying and out of breath at some point. I miss sleep, proper sleep.
I asked mum if she remembered anything from Tuesday, she told me she only remembers calling me into her room to tell me not to make her breakfast and being confused about the date. Apart from that, nothing. She cried after answering my question and when I asked her why she said she really thought she was going to die and felt disappointed not to have succeeded. I inquired about her mental state at the moment, and she responded that she felt in better spirits. It’s quite surreal to have a conversation like that although healthy and honest I think. Talking about suicide is still quite taboo from my experience and usually makes people quite uneasy. I’ve lost people to suicide in the past and I have also been in profound despair and seriously contemplated it more than once. Dying, be it naturally or planned, is part of the cycle of life. I don’t believe suicide is something to be frowned upon nor judged for. Is it a sign of mental illness? I don’t know. In the case of my mum it was an attempt to end her physical suffering and die with some form of dignity and choice about it. She also wanted to ‘free’ me of the responsibility to care for her.
It’s definitely a challenging experience to have this responsibility (I don’t know if that is the correct term for what I want to say, but it will do for now). It’s a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. I often feel like I am going crazy with mixed states of mind from one day to the next, sometimes from the morning to evening. This experience is teaching me a lot about acceptance and knowing that some days will be good and others pretty fucking shitty. Right now we are both doing better. Her body is still ridden with aches and pains, but she is able to do a few things and that makes her feel good. I’m grateful to be able to heal through this together, yet I know I still have to think about what happens if this disease keeps on robbing her of more independence.
I went away for the weekend; the sea was calling. For the first time in 2 weeks I wanted to see friends and spend time away from Seville and just about everything in it. It was amazing. Very last minute. I didn't think I was going to go at first, I kept going back and forth in my head about why I should or should not go. In the end I listened to my heart and went. I did ask mum if she would rather that I stayed, but she told me to go. My friend Miguel invited me to spend the weekend in Cádiz in a friend's house, so I went up on Friday evening to meet with Maria Del Carmen who was also coming with us. We had a great dinner and chilling out time at her beautiful house, and we drove to Cádiz on Saturday morning. The weather was cloudy when we arrived and even rained once we got to the beach, although it turned into a beautiful day in the afternoon. I love swimming in the sea while it rains; the water was so clear and clean this weekend. I really needed that time. I did not mention what happened with my mum to my friends. I didn't feel the need to, not because I didn't want to but more because the weekend was not about that for me. I wanted to be surrounded by friends and be carefree for a moment.
I went skateboarding with the boys while we waited for Maria Del Carmen to make it to Cádiz later in the day. I hadn't skateboarded since I twisted my ankle last year trying to be a skateboarding queen. It was SO much fun! Antonio is learning surf skate which is basically a skateboard with mobile front wheels. I was hooked, I have been thinking about getting a longboard, but the surf skate was a blast. We went back to the beach after and waited for Maria. The sea felt so cleansing, I always feel (and behave) like a child when I am at the beach, doing cartwheels and handstands and jumping around among the waves. We watched the sun set over a very calm sea. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted after we ate that I just went to bed. I slept 8 hours Saturday night, hooray! and felt ready for Sunday. And what a Sunday Funday it was: delicious wholesome breakfast in the old town of Cádiz and long walks by the beach, ice cream, more cartwheels and handstands and silliness in the waves. I am so grateful.
I had very vivid dreams on Sunday night. In one of them I was with my sister and my mum in our childhood home I think. It felt very strange. I can't remember everything but I remember that mum was telling us that she was done looking after us, that we needed to leave and make it on our own.
Life after a suicide attempt is probably the strangest experience I have lived. The next few days after I found mum I couldn’t imagine how to go on with the things in my life and part of me still doesn’t yet, we have had to keep going because life doesn’t stop unless you die and even then I’m sure you go on to something else. (FFS, I’m so over thinking, overthinking AND over it). I haven’t talked about it at all, and I really don’t know if I am processing it in a healthy way or just too overwhelmed to attempt to figure it out. It’s actually quite simple: mum is always in pain, and she wanted to end it. It didn’t work and life is the same but different. I am still looking after her not really knowing what to do. I resent having this responsibility and I feel guilt for resenting it. How long can I do this for? I never wanted children, but I am doing everything that being a mother entails, and I hate it. I love mum and I clearly want to help; I just don’t want to have to think about cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping laundry, giving her treatments every waking moments of my life. I feel like it sounds awful, but it is the truth. The worst of it all is to see and hear her constant pain. She was screaming and crying out in pain last night, she is always in bed now. It doesn’t seem like a life anyone would want to live, and she doesn’t. Do I help her die?
Mum made an appointment with the rheumatologist that the other doctor recommended for this coming Friday. She is in better spirits, she told me herself that she felt more upbeat mentally, which is really nice. I ask her every day how she is, but she mainly responds in terms of the physical pain. Today was the first time that she mentioned her mental st