Fighting For My Life

I am on Twitter and follow the radio personality John Moe from NPR’s Marketplace Tech program. Odd, you’re probably thinking. On the contrary–John is hilarious and witty and I admit to sporting a bit of a crush on the man. I tell you what, those public radio hosts have it going on. Have you ever seen Steve “Stevinski” Inskeep? He’s a silver fox.

Anyway, aside from John Moe’s dry and sarcastic and plain goofy humor which I adore, he also has a serious side and he speaks of his deceased older brother, Rick, from time to time and when he does, I’m all ears…well, eyes. I’ve written about John before in a earlier post. If you don’t remember, here it is :

Rick suffered from depression and committed suicide, so already, I’m going to pay extra attention to what John writes because I, as you all know, have been diagnosed with manic depression and tried to commit suicide myself about two years ago.

John’s tweets are heartbreaking and speak of his love for his brother, yet you can tell he’s angry at Rick for taking his own life. According to John, Rick was also abusing narcotics and from what I gather, left the house when John was 14 because of this…my guess is he got kicked out. Anyway, the two men weren’t close. John admits to kicking Rick out of his life after several incidents that he states were “painful for me and him and didn’t trust him.”  Only later in life, when Rick was seeking treatment at Narcotics Anonymous did they begin reconnecting.

Then, Rick killed himself.

You can feel John’s pain, the loss of his only brother, the loss of the time they could have had together…I can’t help but think of my own brother when I read about Rick. The similarities between the Moe brothers and me and my brother are startling, and the only dissimilarity is the fact that our roles are somewhat reversed.

My brother, Nate, is seven years older than I am and we were never very close growing up, especially when Nate got to be older. Who wants an 8-year-old sister tagging along with you when you’re 15? Nate was always busy with his life, doing things that 15-year-old guys do and was never home. He hated being in one place for too long, and unfortunately, that meant our house. By the time he graduated high school, I didn’t really know my brother, even though I desperately wanted to. I’d sneak into his room when he was gone and listen to his cassette tapes and look through his year books and wanted more than anything to know the guy who was my brother. He was this…force that I was scared of, yet wanted nothing more than to connect with him.

But, he left home and I didn’t see much of him and I reached teenagerdom and began having my own social life and once again, our lives drifted further apart. He eventually moved away to Idaho and has been there for over ten years. He missed so many of my important life events–my high school and college graduations and my wedding. It just never worked out for him to be able to come back. I don’t begrudge my brother for this at all. I would have liked to have had him there with me, to show him that the annoying little girl had grown up, but life got in the way.

I am grateful that as we did get older, we began reconnecting to some extent. Many family disasters drew us closer together and our bond began growing and instead of being afraid of my big brother as I usually was because I was scared of annoying him, I began going to him with problems. Also, he married an amazing woman and she made this transition more smooth for both Nate and myself.

Anyway, my point is that when I began demonstrating signs of depression and when my husband and I began having our problems and he moved out, I was a mess. I turned to my brother and he accepted me willingly. I flew out to Idaho and stayed with him and my sister-in-law for a few days. They were there for me during a very dark time in my life and words can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for them both. When I tried to commit suicide, they were there for me.

If I had gone through with my plan and ultimately ended my life, I would have left Nate in the same place that Rick left John–never having the opportunity to know your sibling. I would have left a hole in Nate’s life much like the hole Rick has left with John.

Here is where the world starts to make some sense in a way: it’s a tragedy that Rick Moe felt that his life was no longer valuable and that his thinking of ridding himself from the world would solve not only his problems, but the problems he caused his family. I assume Rick thought of himself as a failure, as a nobody. He was dealt a double whammy suffering from depression and trying to get sober from narcotics. His brain was not in a good place and it’s a daunting thing for someone suffering from depression to come to terms with not giving up. We may be committed to getting well, we seek treatment and may do well with it for a while, but then the treatment loses its efficacy and we find ourselves back at square one. The feelings of being a failure return tenfold. Depression sinks its ugly claws into our psyches once more and we start to feel hopeless again.

The key here is to not give up the fight. We want to, but we can’t. We’re worth more than giving up and quitting, if not for ourselves, but for those around us, and that’s why John speaks out about depression so openly and candidly. He’s pissed off his brother didn’t fight harder and pissed off at himself for not urging his brother to fight harder. While I empathize with John on a level he will never know. As a person who suffers depression, I also empathize with Rick. We simply don’t think we’re worth the trouble.

But John sees differently.

“My message to you if you are depressed, ill, need help: let people know you. All of you. All about you. They want to. And give yourself a chance to know other people. Live to meet them. Live to be surprised. There’s never enough time in life, of course, of course. Make as many discoveries as you can and let others do the same. If you need help, get help. If it doesn’t work, try again, try something else. Fight.”

His words are powerful and I’m glad he’s talking about this part of his life. As a radio personality with a rather large following, his words have the ability to reach out to millions of people. Millions of us with depression who may be too scared to do anything about it, thinking there’s no point in trying.

As a person suffering from depression, a person whose been to the lowest point of my life and somehow managed to crawl out of that point, I’m telling you, as a person suffering, help is possible. I’m not saying I’m cured by any means. I have my moments when I flirt with the idea of ending it all again because this goshdarned life is so HARD sometimes, but I think about those whose lives I will affect by killing myself. I am so incredibly lucky to have an amazing group of people who are willing to fight for me and are very vocal in expressing this to me. I may not always want to hear it, but it pulls me out of my funk and I fight it.

Fight. And fight like hell.


  1. Cathy Olliffe-Webster · January 18, 2012

    This was brilliant: “The key here is to not give up the fight. We want to, but we can’t. We’re worth more than giving up and quitting, if not for ourselves, but for those around us, and that’s why John speaks out about depression so openly and candidly.”

    So glad you’re fighting.

    • polishsnausage · January 18, 2012

      Thank you! And thank you for reading. I appreciate your comment.

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