Heater, Mother of Lance

For Jeff

Earlier today I was out running errands, and as I was waiting for an order to be filled I opened my phone to scroll through twitter. I immediately noticed a tweet about someone (@fedge) I follow who was in possible danger, and if anyone who lived in Seattle could contact the police, please do so immediately. My heart dropped in my chest with a thud, and when I checked his tumblr, I did not allow myself to believe what I was reading:

Don’t worry. This isn’t a suicide note. I left a proper note at the scene of my death. And I’ll spare you that outpouring of sadness and grief here.

I just wanted to say thanks to my friends who may be reading this. I wish I could have done so intimately, one-on-one or whatever, but you do that kind of thing and people get suspicious. So thanks to my friends who put up with me and tried to help. To those who gave up on me: I don’t blame you. I only blame myself.

I did not know Jeff personally. His twitter account is protected, meaning he had to approve you if you tried to follow him. We exchanged a few messages when I requested to follow him last year. Just a hello, nice to meet you.

A couple of hours later I found this:

My friend Jeff is dead. He had bi-polar disorder and had a psychotic break last fall, losing his beloved apartment and falling into legal troubles because of it. I helped him move into the new apartment, the one he killed himself in, last December. I was able to pull up the address on my foursquare check-ins and lead friends and the police to the correct apartment. 

Those of you who have felt this kind of hopelessness (myself included) might identify with a lot of what he had written recently:

Now that I’m older and have reached middle age, I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs (mostly lots of downs). It seems like there isn’t going to be any progress made here. I think I’m stuck where I started out. I’m definitely stuck somewhere I don’t want to be.

Now I’m thinking that I might be over. There’s no joy in my life, no love. I haven’t had a meaningful relationship in years. I haven’t been in love in forever. Things I used to care about have faded out. All my friends are far away. And I’m stuck here—quite literally stuck—in a city that doesn’t give a damn about me. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. And I’m sick from this overwhelming sense of dread.

Lately it’s like the world is telling me to go, and I don’t feel like putting up a fight anymore.

This is beyond tragic. I guess I wanted to bring attention to it here primarily to reiterate that if you do feel this way you are not alone. And you can get help. You do not have to end the pain like this. And I say all of this as someone who tasted that dread in her mouth and wanted to give up, as someone who thought that it would never get better. But it did. And it will for you. Hold on.

Next week I’m speaking at the opening of a new NAMI facility here in Salt Lake, so these events are especially prescient. I wish I had known Jeff better, and I can’t explain why the suicide of an Internet acquaintance has hit me so hard. Just that it makes me so sad to know that he felt like he had no choice, and it was shocking to watch it unfold so quickly. Gone, just like that.

Please, if you see yourself in these words, do not be too proud or too afraid to ask for help. Just hold on.

  • KatieKat484

    2012/05/08 at 3:28 pm

    So sorry to hear this. Whenever anyone takes their own life, it is a tragedy. My condolences to his friends and family.
    I was 17 when I took 3 bottles of pills. I am one of the lucky ones who survived, and I would like to think, recovered. But I know that pain. And I know the pain you must feel over this loss. Hug your babies extra tight tonight, and be thankful that you’re alive and well.
    Again, so sorry.

  • CourtneySue

    2012/05/08 at 3:35 pm

    I just got back from my therapist appointment and I am reading this. I’ve never been suicidal, but I can completely relate to those who feel like things will never get better. Sometimes just knowing that there’s someone out there who wants to help you, even someone you’ve never met, can help you keep going.

  • Ex Files Chick

    2012/05/08 at 3:36 pm

    So sad to read about something like this. Contemplating suicide is a dark and incredibly lonely place to be in (one that I’ve experienced and managed to claw my way out of.)

    Thanks for bringing this issue to light once again. No one should think ending their lives is a viable option.

    A resource for those needing help is the national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255


  • HowToBeADad

    2012/05/08 at 3:46 pm

    The advent of social media has allowed us to share our grief in ways never before possible. My hope is that people use this grief not to fill others with sadness about their own lives but to learn and grow from it.

    Our interconnectedness now holds the possibility of our becoming emotional alchemists. Let’s turn the bullshit of life into gold.



    2012/05/08 at 3:47 pm

    For those of us who have suffered through debilitating depression(in my case), through anxiety ridden nights, maniacal highs (not my thing but, almost wish I had the high to counterbalance the low — don’t hate, just a thought) I can only say that I am sorry that his cries were not heard.

    The cries of a mentally ill person do echo in my brain when I hear of stories like Jeff’s. If I didn’t continue to take my ever changing and precariosuly balanced truckload of pills and sleeping aids I would not be here. Wellbutrin, Prozac, Lexapro, Ambien, Remeron — I can go on and on. I have had the weirdest side effects (bad body odor, terrible taste, bad breath, weight gain, Bells Palsey and more) to the medications that have kept me alive. They are evil and wonderous all at the same time. I have written notes and torn them up. I have hoped that bed time comes quickly at just 7:00 AM one half hour after waking up, I have hoped that no one notice the growing black circles that pool under my eyes, I have clawed at my innner trench, grasping at handfulls of dirt while I try and keep my imaginary head above the imaginary water.

    I have had a misguided Indian born therapist who pronounced big medical words with such bravado that I thought for six whole months that I was dying of something call Dep rest on.

    I have tried life without the chemicals that I so desperately need, I have been unemployed as a restult of my inability to focus and think straight. I have lost a job because I could not get out of bed in the morning. I have lost friends because they have told me to “snap out of it, it could be worse”.

    Jeff had a WORSE and there was no one there to see or hear it. There was no one there to take his hand and guide him. There was no one there that knew that Jeff was in deep trouble and dark pain, The pain so deep and dark that he wanted to leave it behind forever.

    There are hundreds of thousands of Jeffs. I will be listening for their whispers, keeping myself alert to their signs. I will continue to advocate for the mentall ill. I will continue, because I am still here.

    Rest in peaceful and loving light my friend.

  • Schmutzie

    2012/05/08 at 4:00 pm

    As someone who’s suffered through deep depressions and suicidal thinking, my heart dropped when I read about Jeff. I didn’t know him, really, but I dropped in now and again to see what was up.

    Even at this remove, I want for things to be so much different. My heart goes out to his friends and family as they try to deal with this.

  • nantz

    2012/05/08 at 4:01 pm

    So sad. As Jenny “The Bloggess” says frequently, “Depression lies to you.” You must fight those lies every time you hear them. Every. Single. Time.

    RIP Jeff. I didn’t know you, but I did care.

  • dulcinea320

    2012/05/08 at 4:07 pm

    I just found NAMI Utah a few weeks ago and I am planning to attend the open house, as well as volunteer in any way they’ll let me!

    While I’ve never considered suicide personally, my struggles with mental illness (ongoing and never-ending) have left me left me knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, the realness of despair that causes the desire to end it all. I GET it.

    But, thankfully, I’m a testament to healing. I’m a case study in therapy and medication gone right. And as much as I can share my story or volunteer or be strong or encourage others or provide hope…I am going to damn well do it. I owe that much to those in the throes of it. My kindred spirits.

    That’s one reason I love your blog. It’s not unspoken here. It’s not even whispered. It’s acknowledged and unapologetic – as it should be. I’m tired of the stigma. I’m tired of filtering everything I say because I’m worried about what someone will think of me if I’m honest about where I am today.

    Thank you for posting things like this. It makes my heart hurt, but thank you nonetheless.

  • dooce

    2012/05/08 at 3:50 pm

    @socaldede thank you.

  • suebob

    2012/05/08 at 4:09 pm

    There ARE hundreds of thousands of Jeffs. And one might be standing right in front of you. So try to be kind, people.

    I have been there. I was so close to the edge one day when this woman’s unkindness gave me another little nudge and I almost went. I had gone back to school and to help my sick sister and had failed badly at both, and had come home with my tail between my legs, feeling like the worst person on earth, jobless, penniless…

    “Oh,” she said,”I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you had gone off to start your new glorious life. What, did it not work out so well for you?”

    It was a little thing. A couple shitty sentences that a normal person would shrug off. But I wasn’t normal, and it almost ended me.

    So a plea to everyone. Be kind. Fight your impulses to be a shit to people. You just never know.

  • kate the great

    2012/05/08 at 4:22 pm

    A bit over three years ago, I got the word “fight” tattooed on my left forearm. Some people think it’s a strange word to have in three-inch-high letters on the inside of my wrist until I tell them what it’s about. So much of my life has felt hopeless. So many awful days, months, years. It is good to have a reminder etched into my skin, words from myself to myself saying “don’t give up.” Fight.

  • hmswenson

    2012/05/08 at 4:32 pm

    Know that if you feel that way you are not alone and if someone starts to use the phrases Jeff used don’t tell them they need to “be stronger because everyone has problems” or “cheer up”. No one tells a cancer patient they’re being weak.

  • lisdom

    2012/05/08 at 4:32 pm

    I don’t know Jeff, but he does remind me of the two people in my life who I did know who have committed suicide. It’s always so regretfully sad and we always wonder what we personally could have done. My friend Zak is currently on an across-the-country bicycle ride with a friend to raise suicide awareness. I have linked your post on my Facebook along with a link to http://risephoenix.org/ and really hope that in some small way it could help one person. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be that hopeless.

  • AnitaBlanchard

    2012/05/08 at 4:32 pm

    Heather–I think what you do is help people who are hurting and near the end. I love your day to day life with your humorous perspective. I am sorry you are going through a divorce. But I believe your real gift to this world is to help guide people out of that dark tunnel.


  • WhitsDad

    2012/05/08 at 4:43 pm

    Here’s what the farewell card my son wrote to me said. If someone you know is at risk, and you hear a thanks-for-all-you’ve-done like this, please don’t believe it’s just an expression of gratitude.

    My beloved Pops,

    It’s been a wild ride, huh. Yet you never once wavered as a friend or a father. A kid couldn’t ask for a better father. You’re awesome.

    With all the love I have,


  • OwlMoonKLH

    2012/05/08 at 4:44 pm

    This makes me so sad to read. I was facing this struggle over the last few months and it escalated over the last few days. It was either suicide because I was tired of being stuck in a relationship that wasn’t working and too afraid to call on my friends and family for help OR sucking it up, not being afraid of the fallout and breaking up with my fiance so I can move back home and live again. It was the hardest choice of my life. I know I deserve more than death by suicide. I know there is more to life than misery. I’m forever grateful to my cousin who is going to give me the chance I need by letting me move in with her. Emotional anxiety ridden baggage and all.

    Please, if you feel like you want to take your life, Talk to your family. If your family sucks monkey balls, I guarantee you’ll have a friend you can turn to. If you are still doubting that you have a friend to help you out, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or contact me and I’ll talk it out with you via email, no judgement. kerry dot haas at gmail dot com. Please don’t give up!

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2012/05/08 at 4:54 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. Jeff may have only been an “internet friend”, but you and I know how real, how important, and how validating those friendships are.

    I agree with the posters above that your gift is talking about mental illness, in particular depression, in a way that makes sense and is accessible. Your words are a clarion call: There is a lot of life left to live. Don’t give up!

    Thank you for your honesty. I’m sorry that Jeff’s struggle ended the way it did, but his words remain. His words were not in vain.


  • Norabloom

    2012/05/08 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t tell the following story because I’m looking for praise (honestly), but simply to remind people to act if you think someone may be suicidal. A couple of years ago I noticed a friend’s somewhat ominous-sounding status update on FB. I’d actually never met this person, but he’d added me as a friend because we had so many friends in common (this was back when I was much more open to adding people on FB). A few of his friends wrote on his wall, asking him if he was okay, but he didn’t respond. I also wrote a couple messages to him and tried calling his cell phone number (listed on his FB page)but received no response. I just had a very bad feeling that something was not right. Long story short, I called the suicide hotline in Salt Lake and they contacted the police who were able to track down where he lived. Although he had overdosed, he was found in time and survived.

    All of this is to say that if you suspect someone is depressed or suicidal, please don’t be afraid to ask them how they are doing. Also, please take all “suicide threats” seriously. Even if it’s “only” a cry for help, as opposed to a serious threat, please reach out to that person. You might make all the difference.

    I realize, of course, that sometimes we will be too late, there weren’t any signs, or there was simply nothing that could have been done. This post isn’t intended to make anyone feel guilty, but simply to remind people to pay attention to those around them.

  • Janice

    2012/05/08 at 5:04 pm

    Blessing to Jeff, his family and to all who have shared their losses here today….

  • thefirecat

    2012/05/08 at 5:42 pm

    I am weeping for the loss of a man I have never met, because now I never will.

    @Nantz: THIS. “RIP Jeff. I didn’t know you, but I did care.” Yes. We did. We still do.

    Hold on. Whoever you are, wherever you are.

    Hold on.

  • stlilni

    2012/05/08 at 6:53 pm

    My best friend’s brother–a husband and dad of two young boys, had bi-polar disorder and took his life recently. He thought he had no one left to turn to and did not matter to anyone. He was WRONG! Seeing the devastation he left behind, which is not getting any better for his siblings, his parents, his grandparents,his friends, his community, let alone his wife and little boys drives that point home, hard. Please, please, please get help if you need it. I cannot even begin to express the hole he has left in so, so, so many precious lives, which are NOT better without him.

  • birdylegs

    2012/05/08 at 8:14 pm

    Okay, you are kind of freaking me out here because I had a good friend named Jeff–we were friends since high school but lost touch about 10 years ago. His nickname was fedge. What are the odds. I’m going to start calling some mutual friends right now.

  • Amy J.

    2012/05/08 at 9:05 pm

    My nephew was 17 years old. He hung himself with a dog leash on the swing outside his mother’s kitchen window (her just feet away washing dishes for the evening) after a fight, like so many others, with his sister. He was only an inch from the ground and there just long enough to cause enough brain damage that he was brain dead. From beginning of the fight to him being taken down…less than 20 minutes.

    Not even 9 months later, my best friend found out his wife had an affair. She moved out and six weeks later he’d taken a plastic bag, wrapped it around his head, made a hole just big enough for the wand of a can of pressurized air to fit through and suffocated himself. Not even 48 hours before, I had talked to him on the phone and he gave me NO indication of any thoughts of hurting himself.

    Less than one year later, my sister in law, who had been fighting bipolar disease her entire life tried (AGAIN) to kill herself by taking pills. This time, she misjudged calling her friend for help…had forgotten to unlock the door to her house so the friend couldn’t get in after she called to let someone know what she’d done.


    The aftermath of one of these suicides was another suicide…the father of my nephew shot himself in the chest last Christmas after never having gotten over the death of his son.

    Four suicides in my immediate circle within four years.

    Not one of them was seen coming.

    I tell people this because help can be found, yes. But many suicides are not by people who are mentally ill…on meds…seeing shrinks. MOST are from people like Jeff who just one day say, enough…in a split second decision that can not be taken back.

    The aftermath is far reaching and never ending, in so many ways.

    Mostly…if ANYONE gets a feeling something isn’t right with a friend or loved one…NEVER leave them alone until you can find them help. Butt in…be pushy and brutally honest. Tell them they aren’t acting right…and you are worried. Don’t listen to the “I’m fine”. They might be at that moment, but the second you decide it’s none of your business or you’re over reacting…well, it only takes a moment for the irrational to feel rational to someone who has lost all hope.

    The clues that someone is thinking of suicide are NOT obvious. People who will do it and succeed do not tell all their friends and family. They don’t threaten and go on about how unhappy they are. They quietly withdraw and one day act on the overwhelming despair with hardly a utterance to give anyone who loves them the faintest warning. THAT is what is SO very frightening about suicide.

    From my experience…which unfortunately extends beyond the four I’ve just mentioned…people who end their life just do it. They are seemingly ok…going about normal affairs…and then gone.

    It scares the hell out of me daily thinking who I know and care about that could be next. I’m not sure any of us are immune to either feeling that urge or being impacted by it in our life with the loss of someone we know and love.

    So very, very tragic. I pray for his family and friends. I know all too well the hell and shock they are in tonight.

  • painterdoll

    2012/05/08 at 9:23 pm

    Here is a website resource offering help to those contemplating suicide.


    Thank you for posting about this, Heather. To be alone is a choice. There is always someone willing to reach out and help.

  • indefinitely

    2012/05/08 at 9:48 pm

    Both my mother and grandmother have/had bipolar disorder… and I have seen many very dark moments in my own life.

    Last night I came home to flashing lights and sirens in our parking lot. The far part of the lot was cordoned off and many people were standing around trying to figure out what’d happened. I took my dog out for a walk, watched from afar as the police did their work, and overheard that someone had jumped from the building across from my own.

    Later, I stood on my balcony and thought about how close I was to creating that scene at one point, not too long ago. My heart ached for this person I never knew – a girl? a guy? an elderly person that was just tired? a student overwhelmed by all that they did or didn’t know? I imagined this life suddenly ended… I reflected, as I do now, on all that I have and want… and then I told myself I was worth figuring this shit out. I promised myself that I would seek answers to what I don’t know about myself – the hopelessness, the guilt, the fatigue… why? Where do I start? I don’t know. There’s a want, a need… so, I guess ‘here’ is the answer.

    The sadness I felt last night… and again tonight with the news of Jeff’s passing, the fact that so many of us have come here because we have found things to relate to in what you’ve been so kind as to share with us over the years… it just drives home the fact that we really are all alone, together. Your words have healed on their own, have made people feel ‘normal’ and, more importantly, brought us together to this one place where we can connect and feel less detached.

    Just… thank you. Everyone. I hope that we can all find a little bit of peace this side of the struggle.

  • OddLovesCompany

    2012/05/08 at 10:22 pm

    This is very sad especially for Jeff’s friends and family that are left behind to feel the grief. After reading his messages tho I have to wonder if it might have been over for Jeff. Maybe he did feel like life on earth was over and it was time to move on.
    Hang on for what? Someone to save him? medicate him? Hospitalize him? Tell him he was wrong–life is always worth living? Of-course he might have also hung on for someone to show him there was a better way, love him, and guide him to a better place.
    I don’t know Jeff and if I did he could certainly have counted on me to try to help him but I also get that for some adults life on earth might in fact be over for them-they found their stopping place and they do not want to continue. Scary thought to think someone could make this choice for themselves and be of sound mind.

  • Tracye

    2012/05/08 at 10:37 pm

    This is so sad. I’ve felt the way Jeff has felt and I’ve even imagined the world without me but, I’ve never once thought about ending my life. I know that everyday can’t be Christmas and that life has peaks and valley’s…

    It is dark so that the light may shine. You have to be strong enough to live, in this world. I do understand that there are people whose brains function differently and can only see one path, but there are many paths to take in order to find your bliss OR to just cope.

    These past 3 or 4 years have sucked major ass for many people economically, bills, evictions, uncertainty…but you cannot give up.

    Life is sometimes just a hill. And you climb it. When you get to the top, you enjoy the view while you can.

    My heart goes out to Jeff’s family. Hopelessness is just the saddest thing to have to have as a friend. I hope his story helps others who consider going down the same path.

    I agree, hold on.

    It does get better because it has to. It’s just the nature of life to inhale then exhale. Peaks and valleys. Darkness and light.

    Everything, is a choice.

  • kadybeth5

    2012/05/08 at 11:14 pm

    Heather, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you shared and for letting readers know how they can get help. I know the purpose of your blog isn’t for spreading this type of message, but what a benefit it serves! To all those negative people and the “readers” that cause you the most grief, I hope they realize the positive things you do for others on your own accord. Because of this post, you never know how many people you have helped. Again, I know its not the purpose, just an awesome outcome. Thanks for being you – real, genuine and caring. Your readers are grateful.

  • Jalima

    2012/05/09 at 12:37 am

    Having suffered from depression for most of my life I can truly empathize with this man. My deepest condolences and understanding to those that loved him.

    My brother killed himself at 20. Some 24 years later I have come to terms with his choice. Not one I would choose being a Mom, but to some without feeling help and understanding available, I can understand his reasoning. He felt so very down, and so very alone.

    Times have changed, medication/therapies/awareness improved. But unfortunately not enough to save my cousin who committed suicide 3 years ago.

    Keep on putting it out there.

  • autumn512

    2012/05/09 at 12:44 am

    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of numerous folks yet again, Heather. It’s important. And your words help will help. Bless this lovely man and his friends and family.

  • stresso

    2012/05/09 at 7:03 am

    Having stared down depression – post partum and otherwise – my heart goes out to Jeff and his family and friends. DO NOT be afraid to ask for help. It was the hardest and best thing I could have done.

  • lola_niven

    2012/05/09 at 7:24 am

    The 19-year-old son of one of my good friends took his life last August. His death sent ripples of shock and grief across the community and left us all wrestling with “How could we not have known?” and “What could we have done differently?” Most of our questions will never be answered.

    While researching suicide in order to be of help to my friend, I kept coming across this phrase:

    “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

    I thought that was a really good phrase to teach to kids. We just don’t talk about this subject enough – I think we fear planting a suggestion in someone’s mind so we don’t bring it up. But mentioning suicide to someone doesn’t give someone the idea to do it – it just creates an atmosphere where they feel comfortable sharing if it’s something they’ve wrestled with before.

    When my kids are old enough I want to talk to them about it openly and make sure they know how to get help if they need it (I was suicidal in my teens so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they might be too).

    Thank you for posts like this – they help break the silence.

  • Barstool Babe

    2012/05/09 at 7:40 am

    My thoughts and prayers are for Jeff’s friends and family and for the everyone struggling with mental illness, either directly or tangentially through their interactions with someone they love, or friends with, or just know.

    Heather, I too thank you using your blog for mental health awareness, sharing your battles with and victories over depression and allowing the rest of us to share our battles and victories too. Such open discourse has helped me in my battles, from discovering that I’m not the only one with such toxic thoughts to finding that it really is okay to ask for help.

    And thank you to anyone and everyone out there who cares about me.

  • kjholl

    2012/05/09 at 7:51 am

    There is a Rascal Flatts song that speaks to me – especially on this topic – one of the verses says:

    Oh, why? There’s no comprehending
    And who am I to try to judge your pain
    Oh, but I do have one burning question
    Who told you life wasn’t worth the fight?
    They were wrong, they lied, and now you’re gone, and we cried
    ‘Cause it’s not like you to walk away in the middle of a song
    Your beautiful song, your absolutely beautiful song

    That’s the thing, I guess, that people sometimes forget… life is worth the fight. And, as someone said earlier, sometimes a simple act of kindness – a smile, a “how are you”, just listening to someone when you would rather watch television or text, can change a person’s outlook. Be kind to one another…. and always remember, even in your darkest hour, someone loves you, someone needs you – reach out and just keep fighting. You are loved. You are worth it. Your life has value.

  • Sonicwitch

    2012/05/09 at 8:04 am

    Those who feel life with more raw emotion and empathy are often the very same people who contribute the most to society but feel as if they have not done enough to stop the hurt.

    It’s a difficult way to balance your way through the trials of life, knowing that death is not an answer but wanting to end pain not only for themselves but to no longer feel another’s pain makes death seem like a viable solution.

    I’ve often struggled with this myself and while my suicidal idealization was just a thought process, I have often wondered what event would push me to the edge where return was not a possibility. Luckily, despite everything I have been through, I have never gotten further than sitting alone in a corner. The thought of leaving my Husband and family terrifies me. I prepare myself for every eventuality and hope the bad never comes. I see signs but know they are in my head. I have also reached out to people who have a more objective view than my brain gives me. Those people, my Doctor and Husband, were more rational than I could have ever been in those times.

    If you need drugs then take them (the effect on your mental health can be wondrous ….mine has)

    Let’s get the message out to those who are lost in despair that it is far easier to simply talk to someone…anyone …than it is to take your life.

  • jenwilson

    2012/05/09 at 8:35 am

    My heart is so heavy reading this. I’ve been there. It makes me so, so sad that he felt like it was the only way out. I’m devastated even though I’ve never heard of him until right now. I hope that his death is not in vain, and that somehow someone will read about him and seek help.

    Thank you for posting this.

  • specialkrispy

    2012/05/09 at 8:35 am

    It’s so scary to read what he wrote and understand it completely, to be thinking to myself, “yep,” and nodding my head because I’ve been there.

    It’s incredible how you can go from feeling like a burden on everyone, worthless and hopeless, to having a life full of love, meds and happiness.

    I wish I could have told this to Jeff.

  • Doghouse Mama

    2012/05/09 at 8:42 am


    Your readers/commenters are astounding. Reading them gives me hope that the day will come when the stigma is removed and help is everywhere.

    Thank you, dooce followers, for your incredible love and care of your fellow human. I’m proud to count myself as a card-carrying “minion”.


  • lala34mc

    2012/05/09 at 9:10 am

    Heather – thank you so much for sharing this. Stories like this and so many others, including my own personal experience, are why I love To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), Post Secret, and any other organization who works to let others know they are not alone.

    Just hold on is right.

  • VeganWeigh

    2012/05/09 at 9:15 am

    I had a Jeff, only her name was Diane. She took her own life in November.

    I didn’t understand what it meant to be bi-polar, though she was honest with her diagnosis. I can almost hear her saying some the same words Jeff said, except she didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t happy in her current situation (divorce, no custody) and I don’t think she could see it changing for the better anytime soon. But she had a strong Christian faith and I naively thought it would be enough to carry her through.

    She had an incredible game face — meaning, she was able to mask how she was truly feeling so no one got the full story. It wasn’t until after her death, through talking with other friends and family, that we were able to piece together her puzzle. I honestly thought she had control; I thought she was “letting go and letting God” because that’s what she wanted me, and others, to believe. Keeping that game face on had to have been exhausting for her.

    I can’t turn back the clock and save Diane, and it breaks my heart. On Sunday, her son will spend his first Mother’s Day without a mom. Thank you for taking the time to honor Jeff and to open the door for communication and awareness. And thanks for letting me share my story. I miss her so much.

    Prayers and condolences for you and all who knew Jeff.

  • sweetney

    2012/05/09 at 9:59 am

    Ooof. Hearbreaking.

  • Bluestalking

    2012/05/09 at 11:53 am

    I’m likewise bi-polar. Bi-polar 2, to be more exact, which means I stay in depression and never experience highs. I’ve been in treatment by a psychiatrist and psychologist since 2004 but, frankly, many days I have to make the conscious decision to stay alive. I look at myself in the mirror and say, “You can’t do this. It would devastate the kids…”

    Sometimes my therapist makes me promise not to do anything between sessions. My husband, too. Sometimes I have to make the promise just for a day, because I can’t see further than that.

    I’ve also thought of doing exactly what Jeff did, saying my goodbyes via my blog, hitting the button before I lose consciousness. Then I think what a mocking way it would be to leave this life and how everyone I care about would feel.

    My family has a history of this same chemical imbalance. My great-grandfather committed suicide in a mental hospital.

    If you’re in this same place, it is not your fault. You’re bruised but not broken. I’m living proof this is livable, though some days feel unbearable. Talk to a therapist and get suggestions for skills you can use to get past these close calls.

    It’s a bitch, I won’t kid you. And maybe I’ll eventually follow through. I honestly can’t say.

    But, again, it is not your fault. Get help.

  • newoldfashioned

    2012/05/09 at 1:01 pm

    That nagging feeling that it will never get better is something that so many of us struggle with. It breaks my heart to think of how he must have felt in those final moments of his life.

    Just last week, the 17-year-old son of one of my husband’s clients took his life. It has been on my mind ever since.

    I hope that people can read your post and realize that, if you are feeling helpless, even a person you hardly know would be willing to help you if they could.

    Reach out to someone, because chances are that someone, even if it’s just one person, wants you here on this earth.

  • girlplease

    2012/05/09 at 2:44 pm

    I’m sorry to hear this. The reasons why people don’t get help are shame and consequence. Call suicide hotline and get dragged to a facility which may or may not treat you properly? No thanks. Letting friends and family know that you have depression when my god “what are you depressed about” because unfortunately people don’t get it. Or perhaps like my mom who passed away, she just gave up. She gave up because 40 years of abuse from my dad and all through her life she was afraid to tell anyone risking me being taken away. And when she (ok I am the one who spoke up) to the proper people, none of them had an answer for her. She was 80, sick, and far too gone. They said either I take her in or this is the way it is because it went on far too long.

    So there you have it. I totally, totally get depression and suicide. I also get that some people in this world strongly feel they have no resources because well, they really don’t. If life is about being happy and you just don’t have that happiness no matter what you choose, then what? I’m sorry he died. I’m sorry for his family/friends and you, Heather. But until we get the stigma of mental illness changed, I don’t think any of this will change.

  • Timmys mom

    2012/05/09 at 3:12 pm

    I live in that same dark place, for years seeming to keep my face just above the surface. Last June, my 47 yo husband of 21 years left me and our own 20 yo daughter for a 20 yo girl he met at work two days earlier. There are no words for the pain. Those of you who have felt it know what I mean. If the 20 Ambien and 12 Ativan had worked like I thought they would, this Sunday would be the first Mother’s Day my girl would spend without me. The first Mother’s Day my mom would be missing a child. Even that thought is not enough to make me glad my plan didn’t work, and I hate myself for it. I have three statements my therapist makes me say out loud throughout the day. The first is ‘I choose life.’ Only, I don’t. I want to want to. The next is ‘I am strong.’ Right. The last one, ‘I will feel good again.’ Still waiting. . .

    Jeff, I hope you found the light.

  • JessicaCares

    2012/05/09 at 3:16 pm

    This is really so very sad. Because here I sit in Seattle and really I would have cared for him and could have been a friend. I know how hard it can be in this city to make friends – there is an insular quality that life-long Seattle-ites deny with their last breath but it totally exists. It breaks my heart and I love the suggestion that we remember to be kind – just be kind – because you don’t know who is struggling, who is desperate, who needs that random kindness, and really it is such a healthier way to live anyway. And to everyone in the comments who have told the story of walking to the edge of the bottomless pit, thank you. Your truth is the most powerful way to connect us all together.

  • JackieSTaylor

    2012/05/09 at 3:26 pm

    I’m saddened to read this…

    Yesterday on twitter was the opposite story, a suicide attempt, but the power of twitter found her address/name contacted police and she was saved in time. https://twitter.com/#!/sexndrugsnrockn

    I’m sorry your friends story didn’t turn out the same.

  • Diorama

    2012/05/09 at 4:42 pm

    I could only read the first 10 comments.I have to be careful not to read too many depressing stories at once or it could cause my mood to change. I suffer from mental illness and I have been to that point of despair too many times. What prevents me is knowing the pain I will inflict on my family members who have already been through it once before. Although there are times when all you can think about is ending the pain. I think this is why I love you and your blog, Heather, you let everyone in to witness your depression, and we feel less alone.

  • Natalie

    2012/05/09 at 5:11 pm

    Hi, Heather. Nine days ago, I stopped taking my antidepressant medication. It was a choice I made one morning, even though today I couldn’t tell you why I made that choice. Five days later, I started feeling the physical effects of not taking it. (I’ve been on something for 11 years.) This past Friday, I got in pajamas, crawled into my bed, and didn’t get back out until yesterday. I didn’t eat, drink, or really even sleep during that time.

    The reason I got out of bed was to call my therapist, request an appointment immediately, get back on my meds, and pull my shit together. I was zapped back into reality because of this entry from you and by reading Jeff’s full post on tumblr and the posts he’d made over the past few months about his life and feelings.

    I wanted to say thank you for all you do, especially for those of us with mental health issues. I’m going to keep fighting the good fight.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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