Q: It was during the summer between 3rd and 4th grade, i think i was 7-8ish, and my mom committed suicide days or the day before my birthday. I actually don’t remember much. I saw a therapist briefly, she was terrible, grumpy even. Only went to a few sessions, got nothing out of it, at least that i remember. Now, i have major issues connecting with my family, friends, and much more, girlfriends. Opening up is near impossible, even if i really want to. ALL holidays and most major social events, from the super bowl to saint patricks day to christmas, are automatic lowpoints, with the only traumatizing event being near my birthday. I’m constantly worried i’m missing out on my own life because i seem to miss out on everything worth going to. I cling to friends who have done nothing but damage my life, and push away the ones who might actually help, and especially any potential girlfriends get shown the most aggressive detachment. What little sex i have had, i physically detach from, almost as if i’m viewing from 3rd person. Since highschool i’ve been attending college, i moved 9 hours away to live with an uncle and aunt, rebuilt my life, ran it into the ground, rebuilt again, freaked out and medically withdrew from college to move again 45minutes from parents, rebuilt my life again, ran it into ground again, moved back home because i drove myself into debt and my roommate was an opiate addict. Now i’m sitting in debt, depressed on a regular basis because i have no friends here and i don’t have enough money to visit them, and i have no money to even attempt trying to make new friends here because everything costs money. My dad has always been closed off to boot.
I’ve never blaimed any of my actions on my moms death, but all on me (not her death though). I figure if i can figure out whats wrong and actively attempt to fix it, i won’t repeat mistakes. But i do keep repeating mistakes and have constant issues opening up to people despite trying to, and i keep missing out because of it. Am i supposed to be having these issues because of my mom suicide? Is it supposed to be this hard to fix them? I keep chalking things up to “learning the hard way,” but at this point, thats the first 20years of my life, and i’m not sure how much more i can sacrifice before i truely lose any hope of being happy.
A: Suicide of a parent is a terrible thing from which to recover, and if we don’t get help, it will keep sabotaging us until we find a therapist who can allow us to heal. Whether or not you blame yourself isn’t the full issue, but it seems that you have become pretty self-destructive. I have never met you, but I suspect that your self-destructive behaviors are rooted in anger, anger at your mother for abandoning you, anger that you couldn’t have prevented it, and anger that nobody stepped forward to help.
The thing I know for sure about grief — if you don’t confront it head-on and get therapy, it will wait until you do. That is to say, it will fester and erode your self confidence, your relationships and your life until you get into treatment with a professional who specializes in your problem. Children of tragedy such as yours often go on to become depressed, sometimes for life. You should consult a psychiatrist for medications as well. Anger is considered a “secondary” emotion, that is, the primary issue is your woundedness and pain.
You can find a therapist who specializes in recovering from the suicide of a loved one at Psychology Today. There you can find one who either takes your insurance or offers a sliding scale for treatment. But, you cannot do this on your own. You don’t want to be describing this same issue 20 years from now, so please find a professional in your area.
Dr. Diana Walcutt
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Apr 2009
Walcutt, D. (2009). My Mom Committed Suicide When I Was 7 or 8. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/04/29/my-mom-committed-suicide-when-i-was-7-or-8/