Awareness

Posted in Awareness, on 27 June 2016, by , 0 Comments

First, thank you. Thank you for sharing with the world your family and your precious daughter and her message in the midst of unimaginable grief. I admire your tremendous bravery for pushing forward in a time when it would have been easier, and acceptable, to hide. Though I was never able to meet Ellie, I share many things in common with her: treasured friends, a zest for life, and a secret pain. Struggling with depression and anxiety from a young age, I had tried to ignore my symptoms until they became unbearable at the start of the school year last fall. In one of my most difficult semesters, I became someone I didn’t recognize. I wore masks to block out my closest friends and family members because I didn’t want to become their burden. However, upon hearing of Ellie’s death and reading your powerful words, I knew I needed to seek help. Talking to my parents, I began treatment for these issues and even became a volunteer at UMD’s Help Center, a peer counseling and crisis intervention hotline for issues ranging from roommate issues to suicide. Though some days are harder than others, I’m improving, little by little, each day. Without Ellie, I don’t know if I would’ve sought treatment; I don’t know if I’d be here. Thank you for your selflessness in sharing her story; Ellie truly saved me.

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Posted in Awareness, on 25 March 2016, by , 0 Comments

March 23

The Washington Post

Editor’s note: We reached out to the author after her revealing obituary for her sister appeared in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune.

The most alone I have ever felt was standing on my front porch on a chilly February evening. My sister had taped a note to the front door that said “Eleni, if you’re the first one here don’t go in the basement. Just call 911. I don’t want you to see me like this. I love you! Love, Aletha.”

She put an identical sign on the back door.  Even in the midst of consuming depression, Aletha tried to protect me from the full horror of her suicide.

I stood on the porch shivering from cold and sheer terror. I didn’t just feel alone. I felt like I was in a vacuum in the middle of space with everything I knew being pulled away from me. The universe was suddenly a very vast place and I was very, very, very alone.

After what seemed like an eternity, the police officers told me plainly, “Aletha is dead.” What followed that stark statement was a sudden moment of lucidity in which only one thing mattered: the truth.

I had to be honest. I had to tell the truth.

By the time I sat down to write my sister’s obituary I knew that the opening line could only be one thing: Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth (formerly of Oswego and Chicago, IL) died from depression and suicide on February 20, 2016. 

I went on to share with everyone — friends, family, students, and work colleagues — the cause of my sister’s death: depression and suicide. I told them that my hilarious, kind, generous, helpful, silly and loving sister couldn’t see any of that in herself and it killed her. I told them that her depression created an impenetrable fortress that blocked the light, preventing the love of her friends, her family, and any sense of comfort and confidence from reaching her.

My loneliness and terror on the front porch was nothing compared to the absolute isolation that depression had imposed on my sister. I had to tell the truth.

Read the rest here…

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Posted in Awareness, on 22 February 2016, by , 1 Comments

by Meggie Royer

The morning after I killed myself, I woke up. I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels. The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed. The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine. The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication. The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother. The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach. The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.

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