I can find something to love and appreciate about every genre of music, and growing up in Kentucky, I have a special place in my heart for country music in particular. Country music tells the stories and conveys the emotions of the ordinary men and women who are the backbone of our nation-the farmers, the blue-collar workers, the laborers, generations of families, country folk, the ‘every man’ and ‘every woman’, etc. Country songs have a unique way of illuminating both sides of life-love and heartache, marriage and divorce, sinners and saints, honky tonks and churches, and so on. Some country music stars appear to be living out their lives like one of the songs that they sing. Mindy McCready is one such country singer whose life was highlighted by hit songs, arrests, tumultuous love affairs, and alcoholism and drug abuse, and last week, her life came to a tragic end when she apparently shot herself.
I confess that I know Mindy more for her arrests, custody battles, and stints in rehab than I do for her music career, which was at its height in the 1990s, when I strayed away from the “pop” country music that had emerged in favor of the likes Pearl Jam and Nirvana. So, I was surprised that her death remained on my mind long after I heard about it on the news, but it did and still does. My interest in Mindy’s story is more than some kind of morbid curiosity or a fascination with celebrities. It is much more personal than that.
To date, I have never struggled with alcoholism or drug addiction, but as I have shared in previous blog posts, I have dealt with periodic episodes of depression and anxiety since first diagnosed at age eighteen. Like Mindy, I also am a single mother of two children, and like Mindy, I have had my share of heartache. Like Mindy, I have sought help for my depression and anxiety, and like Mindy, I have been in enough pain to view suicide as a viable option. Unlike Mindy, though, I never have attempted to end my own life, and when faced with having to make the decision whether to live or to die, I chose to live.
I obviously did not know Mindy, so, other than media speculation about what led to her suicide, I do not know ultimately what led Mindy to make her final decision. Addiction? Mental Illness? Unresolved grief over the suicide of her boyfriend? The removal of her children from her custody? Over the years, she sought treatment, both voluntarily and under court order, for her addictions and mental health issues, and she is said to have been hospitalized shortly after her boyfriend’s suicide to deal with her overwhelming grief. Despite access to treatment and periods of sobriety, Mindy still died, and she left behind her two sons, family, friends, and fans to mourn and, hopefully, heal. Regardless of the possible reasons for her decision, the end result is the same. Mindy’s voice has been silenced, and she died with her music in her.
So, what makes Mindy and I so different? Why is she dead and I am very much alive? I don’t have a definitive answer to either question, but I do know that the decision to live or die is not as easy as some people may think it is. Some people assume that I would never kill myself, because of my two daughters, and that is partly true.. I love them more than any other two people on this planet and would never want to cause them even an ounce of pain. That said, I do know that in my darkest of hours, I felt like my daughters would be better off without me in their respective lives and that I could be easily and readily replaced by someone else. They repeatedly would tell me that I am “the best mom ever” and that they love me, but when I was completely overwhelmed by the depression and anxiety, their beautiful words fell on deaf ears and were lost among the madness of my mind.
Whether it be addiction, mental health issues, or a combination of both, when they take hold of your body, mind, heart, and baby soul, you truly are in for the fight of your life. Sometimes, just like with a physical illness, all of the treatment, prayers, support, love, and resources in the world cannot save someone from themselves, and the end result is tragic, to say the least. I do not know why I fought through it and hung on and why Mindy did not. I do know that once I made the conscious decision to continue to live that I sometimes still questioned whether or not I had made the right decision, as it was an immensely painful journey, but I kept going forward and continued to do whatever I needed to do to regain my mental health and to find my light. I no longer question my decision and am grateful for my perfectly imperfect life and self. I wish Mindy and all others like her would have been able to make the same decision that I did, for the world will never be the same without them, for they were the world to at least one other person, and they still had much to offer to the rest of the world.
If you ever find yourself in the position that both Mindy and I found ourselves in, I ask that you follow my lead and do whatever it takes to find your way back to the amazing life you were meant to live. No matter what has happened to bring you to the point that death seems like a welcome option, there are far better solutions available to you, and there are people and resources to help guide you. You are not alone, and things really do get better, but you have to stick around to find that out for yourself. If you need help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a trained counselor 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. It is free and confidential, and that one phone call can save and change your life. Life, with all of its ups and downs, is worth living, and you are more than worthy of the best that life has to offer. Better and brighter days are ahead, as the darkness is only temporary.
That’s another story . . .
For more of my musings, please, visit “Just One Thing Each Day” at www.justonethingeachday.wordpress.com .
Categories: That's Another Story