Dear Rhonda

This post consists of Rhonda Elkins‘ comment that she left on this blog and my reply. I didn’t intend to make them into a blog post, but it seemed like the right thing to do: I realized there was some information contained in our exchange that could be helpful to people.

Topaz,

I am greatly moved that you have made an entry in your blog about my blog and the loss of my beloved daughter. Your writing is beautiful and moving. What I am very happy about also, is that my blog and my feelings about my daughter’s suicide made an impact on your life and cemented your promise to never do that to yourself. In the depths of depression, many people don’t see the impact that it will have for those left behind, they only see their intense mental pain and want to end it. However, if people know beforehand, before they get to that point, maybe that knowledge can be retrieved in that dark moment and decide not to do what their depression is asking them to do.

I wish you happiness in your life, and if you ever need a friend, I will be here. Thanks for mentioning my blog. The more people can read about what suicide does to those left behind the better and I also want to fight against the stigma of mental health problems which prevents many people from seeking help. I think this is what happened to my daughter.

My name is Rhonda Elkins. I really did not realize I had not put my full name on my blog. It’s in the article I wrote way down at the beginning of my blog, but sometimes people might not go back that far. I don’t mind people knowing who I am.

Please keep in touch and thank you.

***************************

Dear Rhonda,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Everything I wrote in this post was true and from the depths of my soul.

When I used to be a Bible discussion leader back in college, members told me that they admired me for the way that I could “feel.” I never really knew what they meant until recently. I often feel for others so much that it overwhelms my soul and envelops me in a dark cloud.

I blame this ability/curse on the reason why I haven’t been able to achieve more in a career. I feel like such a loser because I’m approaching middle age with a Master of Arts degree, and I am still underachieving professionally. This thorn in my side, as I refer to it, is more than likely my illness. I think God is showing me that it can be a strength after all. I don’t know.

I didn’t want to tell you about this blog entry because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I figured that if you found it on your own, then it was meant to be. That’s one reason I blog anonymously; the other reason is, of course, the personal nature of my posts. As you mentioned, there is an enormous stigma tied to mental illness that keeps me “in the closet.”

You’re right: Many people cannot think rationally in the depths of depression. I know I sure didn’t. For some unknown reason, it just wasn’t my time to die. Right before my first attempt, I remember cursing God and telling Him that He would have to physically come down and stop me. I said all this as I consumed about six shots of tequila. I said it one last time back in my car before I swallowed 40 Xanax tablets (1 mg each).

As you can see, I should not be here right now.

Maybe God wanted to use me as a testimony to help others. Again, I don’t know. I haven’t mentioned this publicly, but I attempted a second time last October. However, I got scared and changed my mind as the carbon monoxide fumes started burning my throat. I called 911 and was soon whisked away. My two little boys and my wife were waiting for me at our local community center for a Halloween event; I never showed up. It was the second time in two months that I had disappeared from my family. I am amazed and humbled that my wife is still with me.

My support team consists of two certified therapists, my psychiatrist, and my mother. I meet with all of them regularly (Well, my mother lives out of state). One of my therapists used to be an interrogator for the U.S. Army, so he pulls no punches. I also spent time in three different mental hospitals last year and earlier this year.

I already consider you a friend and it goes without saying that I will be in touch on a regular basis, because that’s what friends do.

[~topaz]

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About Topaz

I'm a college teacher, writer, and faithful Catholic. I do my best to juggle all of these while dealing with my mental illness -- a constant thorn in my flesh. View all posts by Topaz

6 responses to “Dear Rhonda

  • Food For The Journey

    I can’t help but think that this is one of the main reasons some of us are blogging. There is a whole world that needs support for their own mental and physical suffering. Who better, than those of us who are experiencing the same thing? Thank you for posting. My thoughts and prayers are with Rhonda. When I begin to have my own suicidal ideations again, I will remember her and her daughter.

    • Topaz

      Thank you so much for your comment. There was nothing poetic or eloquent about Rhonda’s and my exchange. I guess it impacted me because it was so… real.

      If you do have suicide ideations, please reach out to someone. You can always contact me. I’ve been there — actually, I’m still there. I am haunted nearly everyday by temptation, so I may have to reach out to you at some point.

  • Food For The Journey

    I do keep my doctor and therapist informed when I have suicidal ideations. It’s nice to know you are out there, too. So, I guess I’ll have to hang around so I can be available for you too. Really, that would be quite an honor. I have become captured by the person who is behind your posts.

    • Topaz

      That is so sweet! That is one of the most touching things that anyone has ever said to me! My name is Chad — so know you know a little more about me! 😉

  • gatito2

    Thank you so much Topaz. I suffer from depression and also find support in many of the blogs I visit, especially yours. I know our paths will continue to cross. Thank you so much for helping me get the word out, just as you also get the word out on the problem of depression.

    • Topaz

      The pleasure really is all mine. Each day that my blog is in existence, I believe more and more that I’m here to touch lives. It’s funny, because a year ago, I would never have imagined saying anything like that. Since late last year, everything has changed.

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