Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I think I have reached the end of my rope and will soon follow in the footsteps of my father. I can no longer take this way of life. It was hard enough when things were ‘normal’, when I was dealing with every day life and the hardships it presented, but now, it is all but impossible for me to cope. So I sit here on my bed, as I have done for the last five nights, staring at the bottle of pills on the nightstand and no longer have the will or the power to stop myself from doing the only thing left for me to find peace.
Only one thing holds me back and that is my little five-year-old son. I don’t want him to find me the way I found my father when I was thirteen years old. I don’t want to pass on that bottle of pills I ‘inherited’ from my father that day and pass it down to him. So that is why I am writing to you. No one knows about my desire to end my life because the pain of living is so strong it begs to end. No one knows about the pills or how I came to have them. So, if you have any words that will become a lifeline for me, I await your response and hope that you will give me an antidote to that bottle of pills that offer only one final solution.
I was an only child born to parents who were older because they wanted to establish their professions. I had very little connection with my mother, a noted therapist who authored a number of books on the topic of depression in both children and adults, and my father, also a doctor and a PhD, worked all the time and I was raised by a series of nannies. My father, however, was far more accessible to me when I would wake up at night with night terrors or needed help with school work. He was the one who gave me pats on the back when I did well and offered me solace when I did not. My mother could be counted on to offer criticism, or simply ignore my existence altogether if I brought home friends not to her liking, or grades that were not excellent.
The only time I felt my mothers arm on my shoulder was when the photographer posed her with me that way at my bar mitzvah. I did have friends, but preferred to go to their houses rather than having them come to mine, as my house was dubbed ‘the crypt’ and none of my friends felt comfortable there. So, that’s how I grew up. My family was just the three of us, as other relatives lived away in other states.
My father and I always ate breakfast together as he left the house after my mother, who went to her office at six in the morning and he would drop me off to school. One morning, about four months after my bar mitzvah, I went to check on why my father had not come down to breakfast. After knocking on the door and calling out to him, I went inside to find him blue lipped, foaming at the mouth and not breathing. In his hand he held an open bottle of pills with some of the content scattered on the floor. Only later did I recall collecting the scattered pills, reinserting them back into the bottle and putting it into my pocket. I remember hearing the front door open letting in the housekeeper and screaming for her to come upstairs. She ran into the room, took one look and immediately put her finger to her lips to show me to stay quiet. She then called my mother and my mother called our family doctor who came to the house and pronounced my father dead and then called the funeral parlor.
Days later after the funeral, as I sat in the kitchen staring at the wall, the maid came over to me and asked if I found anything lying around on my father’s bed when I found him. I told her that I had found an empty bottle of pills and that I had thrown the bottle away because I remembered that people who committed suicide cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery. She nodded her head. That is when she told me that my father was suffering from deep depression, and didn’t talk to anyone about it because he was afraid of what it would do to the family reputation, my mother’s practice ruined, my chances of any kind of future destroyed. She told me that she knew he was going to end his life but hoped against hope that he would find a way to be able to cope with his demons. She also told me that she would look after me.
My mother sent me away to yeshiva abroad, and that was the best time of my life. I made good friends whose families ‘adopted’ me whenever I wanted to stay with them for shabbosim. It was the first time in my life that I saw what family life could and should be, felt such love and acceptance as never before and I thrived on it. I asked my mother if I could continue to learn abroad and in Eretz Yisroel until I finished my kollel for three years and she was more than happy to agree. At the time my rabbis wanted me to look into shidduchim I was twenty-two years old and hadn’t seen my mother in six years. She spoke to the Rosh Kollel and gave her blessings to my going on shidduchim and that is how I eventually met my kallah. My mother came to the wedding, not having any time to come before that to meet Ayelet, but that was no surprise nor was I sad about it. Ayelet is the sister of my chevrusah, my best friend and I was already a son in this family. It was at this time that things started to change. I often thought about my father when I was down and as time went by, the feelings of sadness and inability to sleep, started taking its toll. Still, I brushed away those feelings as best I could, because at this time I was soon to become a father, and I forced myself to think about that. My wife, however, was becoming deeply worried as I could not concentrate at my work nor was I doing any learning.
Our son was born on my father’s, a’h, yarzeit, and we named him after his grandfather. I did not realize that one should not name one’s child after someone who committed suicide, even if that be one’s own father, since no one ever knew that my father took his own life. It was by accident that this became evident to me and now I am destroyed that I may have inflicted some horrible curse on my child. The dark moods and the nightmares were constant and I took out that bottle of pills that was clutched in my father’s hand and placed it in my night table drawer. It became my nightly companion every night, after my wife went to sleep, I would take it out and stare at it until daybreak when I would hide it again in my nightstand. The only peace I have and the few precious moments of light heartedness I feel is when I hold my little boy. But when I look into his eyes I see myself, and all the darkness sucks me in again.
Now, with the virus, I am home with little to do but think my thoughts. My wife still has her job, baruch Hashem, and our mitapelet picks up my son from gan each day. But my pain has become a raging ocean, a bottomless pit, that beckons me to jump and be consumed. It is only a matter of time before my wife will leave me as I haven’t been a husband to her in a very long time. I have no desire for anything. Only the pills in the bottle talk to me and call for me to end my agony. What stops it is the sound of my son’s voice, his laughter, his love.
So here we are at the precipice between life and release. Please give me words that will make me want to live, make the voices of destruction stop. I will be in touch.
Thank you for your trust, I will do my best to give you that which you ask, words of comfort and of healing that will offer you the menuchas hanefesh and refuas halev that you so desperately need. Understand that there is a voice far above mine and a hand stronger and longer than my own in which we must place our trust and faith and it is His guidance and direction that makes all things happen. It is in His trust that I place myself now, that He give me the right words and the strength to impart to you what you must do to defy the Satan that lives in that pill bottle that has imprisoned your spirit.
To start with your childhood, a most dysfunctional one, as you have come to see when you enjoyed the home life of your friends, the damage began there and only grew when your father, the only one who offered you anything akin to love and validation, chose to take his life. Thirteen is a very vulnerable age to lose a parent and in such an adverse manner. The seeds of depressions are planted and left to take root, even though it would be years before it becomes evident. You found some sort of menuchas hanefesh after leaving home and integrating yourself amongst your friends and their families. This only served to numb the beast that was growing within you. Marriage, with it’s great responsibilities and fatherhood to compound yet more responsibility, served to burst the door of the cage that housed the beast so well hidden until now. But all is not lost. There is hope if only you will listen and do what you need to do to fight to regain your life and your family.
Under separate cover, I have sent you the names of three people you must call and go to see. I have already spoken to them and they await your call. These are human angels who work in direct conjunction with HaKodosh Boruch Hu and have orchestrated many miracles for people much like yourself. I have also instructed them to work with your wife, who without a doubt, needs understanding and support so that she can be a vital part of your supportive network. However, first and foremost, tonight, you need to take the bottle of pills when it calls to you, and flush them down the toilet! It will be the hardest thing for you to do… but every first step is the hardest, then it gets easier bit by bit. Get rid of that yetzer hara and then you can begin moving forward, on the path that the voice of your son will show you, on the road towards the love your wife has for you and into the light that will banish the darkness that imprisons you. If you want to feel love, if you want to have peace, if you want to reclaim a healthy life that is filled with the promise of Hashem’s Grace, I beg you to reach out to all the hands that are waiting to pull you up and hold you tight in their safety. Your son deserves a father who loves him, your wife waits to welcome her husband whom she misses, and you deserve to live a life filled with healthy, happy events. Grab hold! Please keep in touch as I am here for you in any way I can to help you reach that goal.