Stuck In The Past

By Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D.

Six years ago today my dad commit suicide and I miss him so much. I just want to kill myself because I can’t stop thinking about him. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him or what he did. I feel so guilty for not seeing the signs.

I really wish I did something, but I was too blind to notice. I am angry with myself because my dad was always there for me and I obviously wasn’t there for him. He tried phoning that day, but somebody had the ringer turned off and I know if I had picked up the phone that day might have turned out differently. I regret not killing myself the day I found out he died. I don’t know why this still bothers me so much.

I keep my emotions bottled up because I have nobody who cares about me, he was the only one and now he’s gone. I have no family support and my friends wouldn’t understand (I am not close with any of my friends) and even if I did tell them I wouldn’t want my problems to be on their minds. The past is always on my mind and I can’t let it go.

I was never a very happy person, but since that day I’ve been very sad. I know there is something wrong with me, but I don’t know what to do. I feel so pathetic and weak. I should be over this or accepted this by now. I also have trouble sleeping at night because I can’t stop thinking, my thoughts are unorganized, and I’m always stressed.

I know I need help but I am too embarrassed and shy to ask and I wouldn’t even know what to say. Plus my doctor was my grandma’s best friend, so she knows about my dad’s suicide and it would be very awkward. And if I did ask for help I would have to tell my mom because I can’t afford it and she might not even help or she would tell my entire family. I don’t even know what I would say to her because we are not close and she is neither compassionate nor understanding. Any advice would help, I am desperate.

A: Hello and thank you for your question:

There are few things harder to understand than the suicide of a loved one. Unless my calculations are wrong, you were only 14 when he died, right? That must have been awful. Especially at that age. We don’t have enough experience to recognize a suicidal person when we are 14.  Most people never see it coming, no matter how old they are.

Anniversaries can be terribly hard as well. Not just the anniversary of his death, but other dates like special holidays, birthdays, etc, you know? Special items, memories, places can trigger painful memories, too.

The unfortunate thing is this—if he really wanted to die, there was absolutely nothing you could have done to save him. He may have called just to talk with you. It is unlikely that he was calling to tell you that he was going to do it. People who plan these things just don’t do that.

I wonder what he would say if he knew how much pain he has put you through.  Those folks who think about the damage they are going to cause their children often try to find a way out of their suffering that doesn’t involve dying. I really doubt that he would want you to be still hurting.

And I doubt that he would want you to kill yourself, either. If you could call him up and ask, what would he say? I would have trouble believing that he would want you to die.  Not if he really loved you, which I truly believe that he did and still does.

Where is he now? In Heaven?  If so, what message would he especially want you to hear? Would he want you to get help, even if it is a little embarrassing in the beginning? You might even have a better way of helping him, even now. Consider the fact that many counselors go into the profession because they have suffered as well. They want to help others manage pain better, recover better.

Here in the United States we have counseling services at our universities. Do you?  If you do, then go to the counseling center and talk with someone. They know how to help you. Honest. Tell them about your father’s death and how you sometimes want to die too. Just because you say that doesn’t mean that they will be afraid to help you.  They are trained enough to understand that suicidal thoughts are pretty common, even in people who aren’t depressed.

Also, here in the U.S., a person is old enough to get help on their own once they turn 18, is that true there as well? If so, and you don’t want to go to the university counseling center, you can find a community health center that can help you as well.

There may be other things going on for you too. You clearly sound depressed, and may benefit from medication, but you may also be exhausted from your schoolwork, you may have a thyroid problem (which can cause depression) or something else medically may be going on that your doctor can help you with. Depression, and other problems similar to those I mentioned can respond well to the proper medications, but you need to be diagnosed.

If it is depression and there is nothing else medically that needs to be treated, there are some great antidepressant medications that can help. But with a problem like yours, you should still see a counselor or therapist who will help you work through your sadness and your terrible loss.  You don’t “get over” something like this, but with professional help, you can work through it.

I always want to hear when my patients are horribly depressed and thinking about dying. Only if I know the whole story can I really help them. But I need to know the truth. The whole truth. My job is not to judge, but to help. Patients often tell me similar stories and I think about how much they have suffered.  Once they tell me their terrible secrets, then and only then can we begin to fix the pain.

I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Walcutt, D. (2009). Stuck In The Past. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/22/stuck-in-the-past-2/

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