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 Post subject: Purging
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:43 am 
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So, I need to download some ____, and Spirit Prison seems as good a place as any. It's ugly ____ involving suicide, so if that's going to be upsetting, please stop reading.

I meet lots of interesting people boardgaming. That's a feature, not a bug. Some become friends.

One friend is a young guy named D. D's the same age as my oldest son -- 30ish. We met at a boardgame night as his church. We've been friends for several years, often playing Magic and Yu-gi-oh. The latter is his passion. We've also played D&D together with my two youngest sons for a couple of years. He's an odd guy, with maybe a touch of Asperger's. Or more like a couple of touches. He'll talk my ear off about the new deck he's constructed or his latest duels, but he's very guarded with his emotions. He's also one of the kindest and dependable folks I've ever met. If I had an emergency and needed another set of hands, he'd be on my short list to call.

At one D&D session at my house, D brought a guest who was interested in seeing how the game worked. Her name was A. She was about his age -- very pleasant and a little quiet. After watching, she expressed some interest in playing. I told D she was welcome to come hang out during our games and, if she was really interested, she'd be welcome to play. D told me that they'd been friends for about 10 years.

I continued to run into A every once in a while. D brought her to the boardgame pub where I hang out to play on a couple of occasions. She was always very pleasant but fairly quiet.

On Father's Day, I got a call from D. I hadn't expected to hear from him because I knew he was visiting his father. He was not his usual upbeat, breezy self. I asked him what was up, and he told me that A had died the day before. I asked him what had happened, and he explained that she had committed suicide. He'd just found out from a friend, and he didn't know anything more than that. He sounded overwhelmed and bewildered. We talked for a bit, then he said he needed to get back to watching a movie with his dad.

The next day, I came down with some kind of cold thing, which sent my cough from hell into overdrive. I was down for a few days. I didn't talk to D, but we texted back and forth a bit. He sent me the date and time for A's service. I knew he was starting a new job that week and he'd be busy, but he texted me photos of his new classroom. It was his first teaching job, and he was pretty excited.

Yesterday, I was finally back to feeling reasonably human. After work, I headed for the game pub for a bi-weekly session of Dragonfire with some friends. The gal in our group was L, the wife of one of owners. As we started to play, a friend of L's came in, grabbed a beer, and sat down with us. After a bit, it became clear that something was bothering the friend. I mean really bothering. She would start a conversation, then apologize for interrupting the game. We kept assuring her that she wasn't bothering us -- that we would always ____ about this and that as we played. We went through this cycle a few times, until she started to talk about having seen something that she couldn't get out of her head. It was a scene she kept playing over and over -- she just couldn't stop. And then she told us what she'd seen.

She works as a server in a nice little restaurant in a nice little suburb that sits right on Puget Sound. Several nights before, she'd been waiting tables on the outdoor patio, when she noticed a young couple having an argument at one of the tables. The loud, yelling kind of argument. She caught the woman's eye, and told us that she looked defeated -- absolutely done. At some point, the woman got up from the table and began running toward the railroad tracks and an oncoming train. The man started yelling at her to stop. Another ran toward her to stop her. But she reached the tracks, laid down, and extended her head over the near rail. The man arrived a second too late. He began to scream that he was covered in blood.

I don't think I can describe the face of L's friend as she told this story. She kept saying how bad she felt for the man and other customers. She kept saying that she'd be fine. And she kept saying that she couldn't get the image out of her head -- the defeated look of the woman just before she ran for the tracks. She wasn't fine. She was in shock.

Now, L is a trauma survivor -- she was almost fatally injured in a mass shooting several years back. So, lots of trauma therapy. She also volunteers for a crisis hot line. So, she was very good with her friend. The friend finally said she didn't want to interrupt any more and abruptly headed for the door. L chased her down, gave her a huge hug, and talked to her some more. I think her friend will have some very good support, and some encouragement to get some therapy.

As I drove home that night, I was still haunted by the friend's face as she told her story. Tears would well up in her eyes, but she said she hadn't cried. She was haunted by what she had seen, and in pain over how to even feel about it. I thought how odd it was that I'd been touched by two suicides in 10 days or so, and thought about all the other people who had been touched: my friend D, L's friend, the restaurant diners and employees who witnessed the suicide. L had said that suicide sends out lots of ripples, and I realized what she meant.

Then I realized, it wasn't two suicides in 10 days. It was two suicides the same weekend. Actually, two suicides the same day. And then I realized that it was probably only one suicide. And maybe I hadn't heard from D for a few days, not because he was busy, but because he was struggling with the horror of how his close friend had ended her life. Up until that point, I knew in my head that A was gone. But only after hearing L's friend describe what had happened did the sheer awfulness of what had happened hit home.

I got home and texted D -- hey, how are you doing? He texted right back: not so good. I arranged to pick him up after work the next day, and we went to a big park and took a long walk. I told him of what I had learned the night before (not in gory detail) and he confirmed that the woman had been A. He was feeling bad that he'd been out of town at his dad's the night it happened. He knew, in his head, that he couldn't have done anything. But he couldn't stop wondering.

We walked and talked. About Yu-gi-oh. About A. About video games. About A. She had a ____ life in lots of ways. At the end, too many bad things ganged up on her and she was "just done." He's good sometimes. He's down sometimes. He said, "I've accepted that everyone is going to die sometime. But they're not supposed to die when they're 33." He's trying to provide support for the rest of their circle of friends, while at the same time struggling to make some kind of sense -- any kind of sense -- about what happened to his friend.

He's got a pretty good support network, especially a pastor he is close with and cousin who lives in the area. I'm less worried about him after spending a few hours talking. He'll get through, but I suspect there are going to be scars.

That's all I've got. I'm okay. I'm haunted by the face of L's friend and by the pain on D's face as he tries to process it all. I imagine how lost and hopeless A must have felt in those last seconds. I've never lost a friend or family member to suicide. And I hope I never do -- even though I wasn't close to A, her death has affected me more than I'd ever expected. I have just a little taste of how devastating it must be to lose someone close to suicide.

I wish I had gotten to know A just a little better. I wish she'd had a chance to play D&D with us. I think she'd have liked that.

And, uh, be kind to yourself everybody. And to someone else if you have kindness to spare. Especially if maybe the someone else is close to feeling just done.

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​“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951


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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:58 am 
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Thanks, RI. The world is so beautiful and so ____. We can still give warmth to each other.

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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:23 pm 
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Res Ipsa wrote:
We went through this cycle a few times, until she started to talk about having seen something that she couldn't get out of her head. It was a scene she kept playing over and over -- she just couldn't stop. And then she told us what she'd seen.


She has post traumatic stress. If she doesn't get help, it'll turn into a full blown disorder (PTSD) if it hasn't already.

She should have been transported and treated on the night of the event. It just doesn't happen that way. Witnesses are question and sent home, when medical intervention could have begun and should have begun within hours after the event.

She's at risk for becoming the next suicide.

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Stay close to the people who feel like sunlight ~ Arsu Shaikh


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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:31 pm 
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Maksutov wrote:
Thanks, RI. The world is so beautiful and so ____. We can still give warmth to each other.


Thanks, Mak. I thinks that’s the bottom line.

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― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951


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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:33 pm 
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Jersey Girl wrote:
Res Ipsa wrote:
We went through this cycle a few times, until she started to talk about having seen something that she couldn't get out of her head. It was a scene she kept playing over and over -- she just couldn't stop. And then she told us what she'd seen.


She has post traumatic stress. If she doesn't get help, it'll turn into a full blown disorder (PTSD) if it hasn't already.

She should have been transported and treated on the night of the event. It just doesn't happen that way. Witnesses are question and sent home, when medical intervention could have begun and should have begun within hours after the event.

She's at risk for becoming the next suicide.


Thanks, Jersey Girl. That’s what’s been worrying me. I don’t have any experience with this stuff, but I’ve never seen anyone in the emotional space she seemed to be in.

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― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951


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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:11 am 
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Res Ipsa wrote:

Thanks, Jersey Girl. That’s what’s been worrying me. I don’t have any experience with this stuff, but I’ve never seen anyone in the emotional space she seemed to be in.


Well, I have. In real life up front and close. In front of my very eyes. It's dangerous.

Here's the tip off: until she started to talk about having seen something that she couldn't get out of her head. It was a scene she kept playing over and over -- she just couldn't stop.


That's what they call a continuous loop. Playing the scene over and over and over again, with no way to stop it. It's like running a movie over and over again. It's a hallmark feature of PTSD.

This is 20/20 hindsight talking. She needed medications intervention the night it happened. And even with that there is no guarantee it would disrupt the cycle of flashbacks. It's the same thing as needing to be treated for shock immediately when in a car accident, only with this type of trauma the wound is invisible.

Only it doesn't happen that way. I've supported 2 trauma victims. One in real life, one over the phone. God knows how I managed to do the phone support, but I did. Neither victim was treated the day of the event. They were questioned and sent home to suffer. Both became suicidal. One made an attempt. One had various (involuntary and voluntary) 5150 psych holds to keep them safe.

One person took 2 years to recover. One took more than 5 years.

So what is needed now is talk therapy and medications treatment. If she develops panic attacks (yet another feature of PTSD), there's a cool thing called Zydis disk melt. It's an oral disintegrating tablet sort of wafer thing that you pop in your mouth that gives quick delivery of the medication--in this case Zyprexa.

I've watched it work right in front of me. Knocks down the anxiety in short order. There were times when I wished I had my own RX for it.

There's another treatment called EMDR that is used for PTSD. I didn't see results with that, it only worsened them. But when you've got someone who suffered trauma, you should probably try everything you can lay your hands on.

PTSD will wear you down and ultimately kill you or someone else. She really needs help and she needs it now.

I am sure that the man who chased the suicidal girl is out of his mind by now.

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Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
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Stay close to the people who feel like sunlight ~ Arsu Shaikh


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 Post subject: Re: Purging
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:44 pm 
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D invited me to a vigil for A last night. It was exactly two weeks since her death.

I arrived a little early. A Suicide Prevention organization had put up a beautiful banner with a toll free number and pens for people to write on the banner with. There were goodbyes from friends and notes from folks who didn't know her but had witnessed her death. Folks had left flowers and candles.

She died at one of my favorite waterfront places. The town's waterfront is anchored at both ends by parks -- one a beach park and the other a scuba diving park. I love to park at one end and walk from one to there other and back. The walk passes the ferry terminal, train station, shops, restaurants, apartments and lots of beach. Last night was overcast and drizzly, but the clouds ended at the western horizon, and the sunset was a thin strip of golden color.

About 20 to 30 people attended. Most had not known A, but had been around the area when she died. The vigil had been announced in a local town section of Facebook, and apparently word got around quickly. The vigil was organized by her oldest friend -- a young woman who had known her for 18 years. She and a couple of other of A's friends spoke about who she was and their experiences with her.

Then a man with a full, greying beard took the mike. He was the man A had spent the last 20 minutes or so of her life with. I had misunderstood L's friend to say the two of them had been on the restaurant patio. Actually, they were across the tracks on a bench looking out at the water. He had seen her sitting on the bench, obviously distraught. He asked her what was wrong, and she began to tell him everything that was wrong with her life. He didn't know it, but she was leaving an oral suicide not with him. He listened, and tried to calm and consoler her. But mostly he just listened to her pour her heart out. As she talked, he was trying to figure out what he could do to help her.

Then, an oncoming freight train blew its horn. He said the emotional connection between the two of them instantly dissolved. She said to him, "well, that's my train" and started walking toward the tracks. He was puzzled because she hadn't said anything about catching a train. But the time he realized what she meant, she was too close to the tracks for him to catch. He yelled to her to stop -- to turn around and come back.

He'd just finished telling us his story, when a train blew it's horn and roared past.

I was comforted by what he had to say. My vision of her last moments were some kind of angry confrontation. Instead, she experienced kindness from a complete stranger. Her last moments were filled with compassion.

There were a couple of folks who were clearly still shattered. One, a tall man who was there with his wife, had been sitting in his car in the front of the ferry line when A ran toward the train. He jumped out to try and stop her. Another, a young woman only a couple of years younger than A, had just walked off the ferry and witnessed A's death. She was a Christian, but was struggling with the problem of evil. She wondered why God hadn't stopped A. Or why he hadn't made her life better so that she didn't feel compelled to end her life. I watched complete strangers comfort one another. And it was clear that folks felt some closure and some healing by sharing their experiences with others.

I was pretty drained, and decided I'd go by the boardgame pub and have a beer on the way home. I sat outside where it was quiet and just decompressed. One of the gals who was working stopped by and asked how things were. I told her about A and the vigil. It turned out, she'd spoken with A one of the times she was in the pub. A had asked her if there was a good game she could play by herself, and she ended up selling A a copy of a solo game. It came with a little, free, bowling game. A loved bowling, and she was happier about the free game than the one she'd purchased.

This morning, I Facebook stalked L's friend and sent her a message. I asked her how she was doing and let her know that I had known A and could fill her in with some information on who she was and what she was like. She responded that she was feeling much better, and would love to know about A. I filled her in, including the time and date for her memorial service. She thanked me, saying that she had been really bothered by the fact that she knew nothing about the woman. Knowing about her helped. I think L's friend will be fine.

The service is next weekend, and then A will start to fade. But I'm sure I'll think of her whenever I take one of my favorite walks. And that seems about right to me.

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― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951


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