Lea Lane

Lea Lane
Location
Florida, USA
Birthday
August 26
Title
author, Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, available at Amazon.com and on Kindle
Bio
“I’ve discovered the secret of life,” Kay Thompson, the eccentric entertainer and “Eloise” author, once said. “A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy and a lot of tra-la-la!” And that's been my life: As a travel writer for over 30 years, I've been around the block (more like around the world), and I write true stories about interesting people and places. (Check out my travel site, Travels With Lea.) I've lived an unconventional life in conventional trappings. Been a corporate VP, worked with foster kids, acted in an Indie ("Nurse 1"), was on Jeopardy!. I've been managing editor of a travel publication, written for the Times, and authored books. OS is my home, but I also blog on The Huffington Post, and I've contributed (mostly anonymously) to everything from encyclopedias to guidebooks. Married young, divorced late; married late, widowed early, I dated lots in-between -- and survived a scary illness. After being happily, peacefully solo for many years, I'm now happily married again. I founded and still edit www.sololady.com, a lifestyle Website for single women. I'm truly grateful for each precious day, each well-earned wrinkle, my family, my cat. Truth, laughter, friendship, late love. And this blog -- on this wonderful site!

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Editor’s Pick
MARCH 2, 2010 7:28AM

My Best Friend Ended Her Life at 37

Rate: 103 Flag

 

depression-drawing 

 

Christina’shomeremedies.com

 

 

When I read of Marie Osmand’s 18-year-old son Michael Blosil leaping to his death from his LA apartment, and the recent suicides of actor Andrew Koenig and designer Alexander McQueen, I thought of my best friend Delia, who took her life at 37. Like them, she was privileged and loved. Like them, she was young and clinically depressed. And like Blosil, she had attempted suicide before.

Delia was the girl with everything: a loving husband, two adorable and adoring young daughters, an 18th century farmhouse filled with antiques, set on lush grounds. She was smart, kind, beautiful, revered in our Westchester county New York village, active in the community. Hundreds of  people crammed the sanctuary and grounds at her funeral.

Nine years before her death, when I moved to my nearby house with my first husband and two young sons, Delia came over with a bouquet of garden flowers to welcome us. I was charmed by her grace and warmth, and we soon became best friends.

Our families celebrated New Years at each others’ homes, we took our children trick or treating along the back roads where the Headless Horseman himself had traveled. We traded books, we started a monthly dinner where we prepared foods of the world. Delia and I supported each other, talked every day, shared dreams, confided about our fears.

Seven years before she succeeded, Delia attempted to take her life with an overdose of pills. Her husband called our house in a panic and we rushed over and threw her in the front seat of our van and speeded to the nearby hospital. She was in a deep coma, but came out of it. People were told she had an allergic reaction.

I didn’t see that attempt coming, and for the next years I could never really forget it or completely trust her mood. She was fragile but seemed happy enough. She completed her Master’s at Teachers College Columbia, and became a popular elementary school teacher.

About a year before she died, Delia became gaunt, her eyes haunted. She was seeing a psychiatrist, and on meds, but appeared lost and frightened. She told me she felt like she was in “a dark hole.” She said there was nothing I could do. She doubted everything she did.

I felt we were losing her, but I didn’t know what to do. And then in May, when the air was filled with the scent of lilacs -- the weekend before Mother’s Day-- she became overly happy, camping out with her daughters by her pond. Strange behavior for a woman who had never slept outside before.

And then the call from her housekeeper on a weekday morning. The police had already arrived. I was two blocks away, and ran over to see my best friend removed from her house in a body bag. The door to her car was still open from when she had rushed home from teaching.

Her husband, who worked in the city, couldn’t bear to hear the details. He had to commute for an hour, knowing she was gone, but not knowing much more -- yet. I was with him when he told his daughters, who were 10 and 12. They cried, and then went out to play. And then I called her friends, who didn’t believe me. “She had everything,” they said. “Why would she take her life?” What did her husband do to her that they didn’t know?

They were trying to find a reason. But depression can be a terminal disease. There is no "reason," any more than getting a heart attack or cancer has a reason.

Delia did leave a note. I never found out what it said. I know that she loved her family more than anyone I knew, and would not have left them if she could have endured her suffering.

Years later William Styron, the author of Sophie’s Choice who suffered from depression, came out with a thin book titled Darkness Visible. I read it and learned as best possible the terror of my friend.

Delia’s husband never remarried. Her daughters grew up to be lovely women, like their mother. Her photo is the only one on my living room table who is not a relative. She remains forever 37. Like Alexander McQueen, Andrew Koenig and Michael Blosil, she was a beloved person who died too young from a dread disease.

 

 

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ouch. sadness which knows no depths.
well written.
I lost a friend under similar circumstances. No one saw it coming, because Alana did not have a history of depression. But her behavior in her last days was completely out of character for her. Sometimes, there is nothing anyone can do.
I'm so sorry, Lea. So very sorry.

Depression kills. More than we know.
This is such a sad topic.
The ones left behind spend the rest of their lives living with questions and doubt.
I am sorry you lost such a dear friend.
I was the last person he called, before my dear friend took his life. People said he was reaching out for help and for I long time I beat myself up because I hadn't said the right thing. It took years for me to accept that he was simply saying goodbye. Thank you for sharing this.
You have written a beautiful tribute to Delia, here. You've also done a service by educating people who suspect that no one would ever kill herself or himself unless there was some external cause, like her husband mistreating her. Here's to greater understanding of depression before it reaches the point of becoming suicide.
Your friend obviously suffered terribly; there is so much sadness here. Depression has so many unknowns; it is difficult to treat, and affects so many people, whether they are the sufferer or loved one. Suicide is rampant in my family, with many attempts and several suicides. I will look for the book you mention.
I am sorry for your loss.
I can't imagine the pain of those left behind or her pain to leave them. What a sad story...
I know depression well. It is an unseen shadow in every room, waiting...for its chance.
well written and understated in its deep, deep sadness.
Lea, this is a sensitive, finely wrought tribute to Delia. Your sadness comes through with a grace and dignity that touches my heart. (r)
You write eloquently of her hidden pain, Lea
what an incredible loss. how very sad for everyone. she sounds just amazing.
I once read somewhere that the ordinary depressions healthy people endure make them less--not more--empathetic to those suffering from serious depression. I try to remember that.
Depression is something that is not prejudice about who it comes on. I am so sorry about your friend!
I can hear your pain through your writing. Thank you. So glad you had such a wonderful friend and so sorry you lost her.

I lost a friend when I was seventeen. It has shaded my whole life. I'll read Styron's book.
this took me back to Gary's suicide. after all we know and have learned about it Lea, I don't think depression is discussed in realistic terms. people STILL look for a reason, a point to it. logic is beside the point. depression is a black hole that is very different for everyone.

some of us are more fragile than is healthy or can be handled at any given time. thank heavens for antidepressants but even those don't always alleviate everyone's symptoms. the symptoms themselves are only tentacles of the beast.

these deaths - i can't say "senseless" because I know it takes an emotional enormity I've never experienced for someone to decide with finality, "I can't bear to live with this pain".

there but for the grace of god..
What a sad and devastating loss to all, so very sorry. Depression is a terrible disease.
Depression causes a mental pain that, in the extreme, can not be endured. So far there is no magic "pain pill" for that sort of agony and sometimes the sufferer seeks final release from the pain in the only way then know how....death.

The sad thing is that, because the person shows no physical pain, the decease goes unnoticed and untreated many times. Another silent killer of people and a sad one indeed.
It's tough to communicate to people exactly how hopeless people feel when they get to this point.

Normal depression doesn't touch it and I'm afraid most folks equate that with this deep clinical depression.

The only reason I even remotely "get it" is because for years, in my twenties and early thirties I would get severely depressed about a week before menses. It was as if a cloud overtook me. Or I was in some sort of black pit. It was the most oppressive thing I ever felt and it was almost like someone was ACTUALLY smothering me or sitting on me or covering me with heaviness. Fortunately for me, it would last maybe 4 days or 5. I cannot imagine feeling that way every single day. I CAN imagine why suicide would feel better.
Wow, Lea. I had a best friend and ex- roommate who pulled the trigger shortly after I moved to Florida. There were some odd behaviors prior to the incident, but nobody really saw it coming until hindsight took over. Suicide is a difficult thing and I doubt anyone will really understand it. So sorry for your loss. It obviously still hurts and I get that completely.
Depression isn't a mood . . . it's a presence. Winston Churchill described it as a black dog that followed him. It's very tricky, and it's good to be reminded how real it is and what suffering it causes.
You do a wonderful job of setting Delia free here - and yourself. It's the right thing to do. Thank you for this.
This is such a tragic story, Lea, and unfortunately, much too common. Depression is insidious. Thank you for reminding us to never assume that just because someone has "everything" that he/she is beyond taking their own life. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.
Suicide has touched my family and the families of other people I've known over the years. It usually leaves more questions and doubts than answers. It lurks like an iceberg, somewhere in the waters of our lives. If we're lucky, those we love can avoid being its Titanic. As much as we try to help, we can't always prevent that crash.

I'm sorry that you lost such a dear and caring friend.
You tell this tragic story so tenderly. Ultimately, the lesson here is that no matter how well we think we know people, we really don't. Depression is a thief as well as a mask. I'm very sorry for your loss.
What Churchill called "the black dog" is a cruel, relentless, remorseless killer. If one hasn't walked in that darkness, one can never know what it's like.

A sad story, touchingly told.
Some people are tethered too lightly to this world. They try to hang on, but when the hard winds come, they break away. I'm sorry for your loss, which from your writing, still feels fresh all these years later.
So sad she took her own life. Very well written--good tribute to your friend.
Very sorry. Obviously there is still pain for those left behind. But also many good memories.
rated for understanding.
The "dark hole" that your friend was in can be very cold and deep. Others can't see it. Rated for commuting an hour without knowing.
I am so moved by this. Years and years ago, when my kids were young I suffered terribly from depression. I call it the pit. I have come to understand what much of mine was about, and truly it is like alcoholism, something I am on guard against every day of my life. I am so sad your friend (and the others you mentioned) never found their way out of the pit.
Ouch. This is very sad indeed. It is a constant reminder that materialism and prosperity cannot make a person truly happy. I too have suffered from depression. In days past I have pondered the thought that if I just had a bit more money, or if I just lived in a different region, things would be so much better. Obviously this is a lie that we tell ourselves. My heart breaks over this post, simply because it is a reality that I don't want to face. Again, my deepest regards to you.
There's always a reason for internal depression (as opposed to one triggered from an outside event). To say there's no reason is to say there's no hope. And the reason is always the same: people feel they have to lie about their feelings.
Thank you for your comments, which enhance the effect of the post, as usual.

(Harry, there is a reason for everything. Just not usually because someone is mistreated. People look for concrete answers. We still don't know why these things happen, but of course there is hope that in the future we can find the answers.
Lea, thank you for writing this. the blackness that depression represents is impossible to fathom, even for those of us who've flirted with its edges. Though I've heard it described as a bottomless pit, I've also come to understand it's akin to being smothered. In any event, it's tremendously isolating and challenging to break through and the aftershocks are often devastating for the survivors.
Lea, I am guessing you were taken by Salon's article today on the death by suicide. Well, I had the same reaction as you did. I don't know what is with the age 37 but as I've written here I lost two best friends, wonderful people, within one week in December. Both suicides and both extremely close to me, though they didn't know each other. Patricia and Jacob, and god was that hard.

I guess we who have our ups and downs but don't have that particular brain chemistry are just very very lucky. William Styron by the by, never recovered. His daughter wrote something I thought better left alone because his book gave so much hope. But according to his eldest, he was sick until he died, never recovered as that book made us believe. Thank you for this portrait of Delia. She is not an anomoly much as we'd like to think so. Condolences to all of us who've lost dear ones to such a death.
Lea, I have no words for this. It's beautifully written and the sadness and loss is simply recorded, as it happened. So much of life wheels beyond our control. If we are not able to let go we risk going insane. I love what Bell said about being so lightly tethered to this world. Sometimes it is a very hard world to hold onto.
i am so sorry for the loss of this woman: for her, for her kids, her husband and you.

as someone who has lived either in or near the edge of the abyss, it is difficult to put into words how one is feeling disconnected, isolated and hopeless. it makes no sense to those around us.

another problem is the exhaustion that depression causes: physical as well as emotional. all during cait's illness i coped by putting my head down and doing what needed doing. now it is harder.
I am so sorry for your loss! There is really nothing that can take the pain away, I am sure. I believe that we can meet people we have lost again. I believe they are not gone for good.
I have read that spring time is actually the worst time for suicides. There is a spike at Christmas, but early spring is the most common. I have ideas on why this must be. I have tried to write about it, but haven't yet.
So sorry Lea. I'm sure this is still tough to think about.
Sad but wonderfully written piece. The day that she camped out with her daughters was the day that she finally decided to end it all, and the cloud lifted. That's one of the supreme ironies of depression.
I have written about my sister's suicide at 18. I know how hard this is. I'm so glad you have written this heartwarming rememberence of your dear friend, Delia. And thank you for the Wm Styron reference. I would like to read that.
Lea, 15 years ago, when my father was having his worst bout of depression, I read Darkness Visible to try to understand him. 10 years later, I read it again to try to understand myself.

Depression just sucks all of the joy out of you - as well as any rationality. It gives even the sweetest things a dark tinge.

I was never as lost as your friend Delia, which is why my wife's love and support helped me get through it. And when I mention to people that I've suffered from it, I'm surprised by how many tell me they or something close has been treated. I keep my eyes open now for signs - either in myself or people I love.
You write a loving tribute to your friend. I'm very sorry for your loss.
As a sufferer of clinical depression Lea, I thank you for writing this for your friend. No one knows the depths of despair one feels when the chemicals of the brain will not allow happiness to occur. A C.D. sufferer can have the most money, most love, most to live for but inside feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. I used to be one to really think suicide was selfish (before I was ever diagnosed), but I have learned to never judge anyone and don't speak for them without walking in their shoes. My heart aches for you and most especially her family. I'm sure, and I hope they know she loves them...
RATED
So sad, and so touching. I'm sorry for the loss.

I never got to find out what my brother wrote either. I'm sure it would not have answered anything though.
R
Lea, this is a breathtaking post. Beautifully written and so very tragic.
I remember when someone walked into my classroom and told me Victor was dead. I had to stop the class. His wife and two children reutrned home to find him hung from the rafters in the basement with drug paraphernalia scattered around.
I was so angry with him. We had both come out of what could only be generously classified as a disadvantage childhood, he fromt he tobacco farms of Georgia and South Carolina, myself from mexican labor camps in South Texas. We clung to each other as oldsters working our way thru the academia system and got pretty good jobs. We had made it! Or so we both thought. Like many of the others here Victor's behavior began changing. At first he only had a few questions about my choice to become a Jew but then he would berate me when I visited. I pulled his wife aside and asked what had happened. It seems he had joined the Catholic Church, which, locally, was pretty charismatic and aggressive about it's outreach. Like others here I blamed myself that perhaps he thought I was abandoning our friendship (not a shred of truth or reality to that) or that he genuinely felt my soul was in danger ((not that I knew of)
and, finally, as I spoke with some of his department colleagues the more Victor climbed, the worse his behavior became, drinking endlessly, using coke. It hurts my heart to think of him even yet after all these years. I remember once when he was in his cups, he cried and said, " I'm a whore! I've become a whore.!" I told him no one could take away those values he held dear and that the way to not be a whore was to not bend over and hold those value cards in your front pocket right under folks' noses. I don't think he ever learned to play the game. I miss him still...and thanks for the space to talk about him a bit.
This is a beautiful tribute, simple and profound. I've lost friends to suicide and I work with clients suffering from depression. So painful. I'm sorry for your loss, Lea. And I'm glad you're writing about it.
very very very emotive piece of writing.

i'm moved by the warmth.
Lea, I'm so sorry you lost your dear friend. I can hear your grief between the lines - it never really goes away when we lose someone, especially someone who should have been saved, somehow.

Thank you for shining a light on a dark subject -- both the extreme sadness that drives people to suicide and the pain that suicide inflicts on those left behind. I've known people who've killed themselves, others who've tried and several survivors who were left behind when family members committed suicide. It leaves a deep mark that never can be erased. But as you explain, for many people, it feels like the only relief from pain that hasn't yielded to treatment (of course, it also sometimes is a horrifyingly abrupt and careless decision in the wake of an immediate hurt, especially in the young).

I once knew someone who, like your friend, seemed to "have everything" including many people who loved her, and killed herself in her early 40's, the prime of her life. That people still feel no choice but to end their lives in those situations shows exactly how powerful depression is.
I've suffered from anxiety disorder. Paxil has been saving. It is hard to suffer. It was unbearable before the meds. I'm sorry the psychiatrist couldn't find the right combination of meds to save your friend. It is an illness.

Lucy
Lea,

As you know, because you've been kind enough to have read, I have written about my friend who died too young---also by her own hand in a way---a hand that held too tightly and too often to a bottle.

I loved the image of her photo with the ones of your family---and of course, the image of her caught at 37 forever.
"she was a beloved person who died too young from a dread disease."
what a great thing Lea that you really understood your friend. She was lucky to have you in her life.
I am so sorry, Lea.
She certainly had a good friend in you...but no friend or relative can fill the void when there just isn't any answer.
No tragedy compares to suicide. None. Always the nagging question: Could I have done anything?
Lea, my sincere condolences. Contrary to myth, time does not heal grief, but mitigates the emotional impact and allows us to adjust to our new reality. My best friend is eternally 19 years old and I occasionally shed a tear in her memory, four decades later. This was a truly loving tribute to a lifelong cherished friend. Thank you for your sensitive remembrance.
-rated-
What a sickness, get the chills when I read something like that, people can have all types of things, but when people behave in wierd ways, it is often a sign of mental issues. People need to seek help, in recent there have been many people that are depressed, it can be a various bunch of things, some are just too far gone, no matter what is said, they have meant some type of strange nether world and only care about what is there. They lose track of the everyday events, the daily grinds along with the friends and family that share lifes highs and lows. What a shame, I would hope that there is more attention to suicide hot-lines. People are showing signs of being helpless, that is serous and they need to know they can move on. One of my daughters friends recently committed suicide, he was 19 years old, he was abusive towards his girl friend and she wanted to end their relationship, instead he took his life. Senseless
I wish I understood. I do not think we can if we haven't wanted to die ourselves. But I know that loving someone with depression gives me a glimpse and my heart is full of love and compassion and sorrow for all those who left.
This is a beautiful tribute._r
I am so moved by your comments, and your insights, and many of your own experiences, Thank you for opening up.
I can relate to her pain very much so. I have my dark place that I go, when I am there I think of how it would be such a relief to let go of it all. I teeter on the edge wishing for the oblivion that would give me peace. Through my dark fantasies I have died many times, I have not because of my 9 year old child who loves me very much. I cannot see abandoning him. When I am there in a suicidal funk I cannot see any hope nor redemption. I have places where I post time and time again as a form of release, I am afraid of myself sometimes, my sadness is so complete. To contrast it all I do have my bright moments where I feel surrounded by beautiful things when I cannot possibly see why I end up so devastated. Thank you for sharing, and for those of you who reach out it does help sometimes. I have a very lovely supporter who is at my call 24 hours a day, but for her I would not be here writing these words. *hugs* to those who care.
Oh Gianna. Did you read Styron's book? He says when he felt the very lowest he listened to great music that he loved and he had himself hospitalized to protect him from himself. I am so glad that you have someone there for you. We are there for you, too. Please remember the beauty of this world. And write. I will favorite you.
depression is not always some biological, chemical brain "disease" that descends on people. sometimes the "disease" is extreme emotional cruelty from loved ones - abuse or neglect, with devestating effects. witness the suicides from bullying.
Thank you for sharing this very well written piece about a subject so important to many of us. There is so much in life to understand and so much for which there is no understanding in this world. Rated.
This spoke to me more than you know. rated.
I'm so sorry about your loss. I suffered from depression and William Styron's book was a savior to me. My heart aches for your friend and for those that she left behind. It is just so sad that her pain won out in the end.
I came back to say what I already said to Lea and it's a question for you here. This happened before anti-depressants were o so prevalent. I wonder if you all think that Delia or any of our friends' suicides from before the new drugs might have been helped. I do not know the answer but my guess is that there would have been options and back then, they really weren't. Anyone?
Hi, Lea. Good, sad, post. I left my comments on HuffPo.

Monte
I think most of us have dark corners we don't want to even think about let alone talk about, and really, what can anyone say to someone who decides that even a seemingly perfect life is too painful to live?

It has been my observation that the closer one is to perfection, the less tolerance one has for imperfection -- but then that's applying logic to what is obviously an irrational act.
To many it appears inevitable, as if continuation of life is the real folly. Those I've spoken with who entertained these thoughts say it seemed less like escape and more like destiny. All but impossible to stand outside and attempt to peer in with any understanding.
Depression can be so debilitating. Of course you know. We have no way of knowing how deep one's despair is--we can surmise, but even people who have been through something similar just can't know. The living can't feel guilt for not knowing, for not saying this or that. You write beautifully about this heart-wrenching subject; you pulled me right into your little town.
I've been in that dark hole a few times. Styron's book helped me realize that I wasn't alone.
R
Shadows of a splendid life saying goodbye,
Leaving many echoes for those to ponder why,
How could we be touched by the beautiful ray,
and have it abruptly vanished and go away.

No choice, no voice, just memories treasured
Not to be replaced, none to equal in measure,
Alas! we resolved that it was their choice not ours
Like a rose in full bloom, when we still see it flowers

It was not ever ours to hold, there's no one to scold,
For how could we ever imagine that this would unfold,
Just a flicker of light, inevitably that's you and me,
Twilight's best splendor - reserved for us, in eternity.

From the collected works "Transformations in Trauma & Tragedies" by K. Valencia Williams copyright.2010 (dedicated to all of those departed ones who choose their ending & those of us who remain...on the other side of the door...trying to make sense out of the pieces in the everyday midst of our beginnings).

Thank you Lea! I, too...have lost loved ones to suicide; both abruptly and the slow-stewing ones of self-destructive behavior, courting death over a period of time. That's what it is, you see & it bears worthy mention here as a reminder to all: that certainly if love is not nurtured - it leaves a space for hate to fill; and if life is not embraced with certainty...then death with be courted with a seduction that is always "final." It remains our choice!
Friends, that unusual behavior is the danger sign. I lived for many years with a manic-depressive (or bipolar as it is now called) husband. I did not lose him to suicide as the manic behavior always signals time for hospitalization. Others often thought it signalled an improvement in his condition. His doctor and I knew better.
The Shadow Knows, special thanks for that moving poem and comment.

And again, I so appreciate these comments.
I won't recount my friend's suicide 7 years ago. It is enough to say that it never leaves you. Fortunately, we have a great grief group and grief counselors in our town. Books that helped me were, No Time to Say Goodbye, Night Falls Fast, and An Unquiet Mind.

Thanks for telling the story of your friend.
I know this too well. You write of it beautifully and with exactly the right kind of understanding of what can never be explained.
I'm so sorry. You write wonderfully despite your pain. I know your pain. The words I said to my best friend the last time I saw him were I love you.
My family has a history of depressive disorders, and I take medication myself. Many people who have never suffered from depression can't understand how you can have an illness with no visible symptoms. Until our society accepts that depression is an illness, like asthma or diabetes, and educates us about it, more stories like Delia's will happen. Sometimes when you think a person has everything, she may feel like she has nothing--no reason to live.
Oh. too awful. too sad. I'm so sorry for Delia.
for my own experience, it's not that i want to die as much as i don't care if i live. i have gotten to the age i am by telling myself i can always end it tomorrow or next week. it gets me through.

if i hadn't had my children i don't think i'd have lasted. but there are times after this past decade of cait's illness and death that i have to keep looking at my son and know what it would do to him.
Beautifully written, Lea, with such compassion and insight. As someone who has suffered some serious bouts of clinical depression, it heartens me to read someone who isn't a sufferer make such efforts to understand it in a loved one. The "black hole," as I call it, is an insidious liar. When you are in it, the thought of ending this amazing gift called life really seems like a logical solution to an excruciatingly painful problem. I know the early symptoms of this slide well now but even the slightest movement in that direction terrifies me, because I know once that hole starts to suck you in, it takes an almost super human effort to find just the will to make it out. Still, even in this day and age, people say, "Snap out of it!" "But you have so much going for you! You should cheer up!" (that's what the college therapist told me my freshman year, the first time in my life that I woke up with thoughts of death every single morning).
I think the greatest gift you have given your friend, even now after her death, is in saying that you hear her and understand that her pain was tremendous. Sometimes, that is the best thing someone who suffers from depression can hear from a friend - that yes, I understand that what you are feeling is REAL.
Holy shit Lea. This was one powerful piece on so many levels. I am moved to tears. You wrote so beautifully about your friend but you also did a profoundly important public service message. Although I have never suffered from depression, I work with clients who do and have several friends who are in and out of the "dark hole". It is difficult for anyone to comprehend that kind of darkness, but it is a reality and a true physical and mental devastation. Thank you for writing about something so difficult and someone you loved. Your picture of her in your living room is testament to her. Rated.
thank you for reminding everyone that depression is a disease, and those that take their own lives are suffering more than most can imagine and do not deserve to be judged or looked down upon.
A very touching tale of a completely misunderstood disease. Excellently written, Lea, I feel your sorrow and pain.

Well-deserved EP. So very sorry for the loss of your friend, even if it is so many years ago.
Your writing takes my breath away, moves me. Your visuals and details draw me into a world I can see and touch. I can even smell the lilacs. You invite me to join in your friendship with Delia, a woman with the deep attraction of her warmth and grace. You are gifted in your representation of a Delia and her devastating disease. And a brain that kidnapped and tortured her until her only way out of captivity was to die.

My daughter with epilepsy suffered, at the onset of menses, a two year period of something that looked like a type of psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar. She would be happy making cookies with her sister and I and suddenly, as though possessed, want to jump out the window or break her fingers.

Because she already had neurologic problems we sought help immediately. This was not an teenager looking for attention or character defects. She was diagnosed with every sort of mental and emotional disorder found in the DSM-IV and we saw all the specialists who would treat her but not stop what was driving her mad. I finally found her syndrome in a neurology tome -- a temporary temporal lobe seizure-related disorder often mistaken for psychosis. She was taught to let us know "the bad brain is coming" and so we could give her chemical and, even, physical restraints until the bad brain passed. As suddenly as it appeared, it stopped after two years.

Our brain chemistry balance is so fragile and depression is a killer. Not the environmental kind that passes, but the neurochemical kind -- the kind that no matter what you do or how much therapy you get and how many medications you are prescibed and no matter how happy you are with your life and your self, it follows pathways that truly take its victim's thoughts hostage until they see no other way to end the pain than to end their lives.

We were lucky our daughter's temporal lobe epilepsy syndrome was short lived. She is a fighter for her life and yet we could have lost her if the "bad brain" stayed around long enough to convince her to not just give her the idea to suddenly break her fingers but to impulsively jump through a window or off a two story deck.

What happened to your friend is cunning, baffling, and powerful. I am so sad for her suffering, her impossible demise, and her family, friends, and you. What a beautiful woman to have known. And what a moving testimonial to Delia.
So many great and understanding comments.

Joan, so sorry you had to suffer. So many of you have, or know someone who has suffered depression. I am not surprised, but saddened. I do recommend Styron's book. He is able to put words to something almost impossible to describe, and it is enlightening to all.
Beautiful tribute. When I was in college one of my sorority sisters jumped out of a European hotel window while "studying abroad." She too had everything or so we thought. Not knowing why she felt so desperate has haunted me for 45 years.
LinTheSoutheast, yes it is so awful and so hard to fathom for those who do not suffer depression. There is no way for us to know how awful. We must accept this and try to learn about the problem to do what we can to help ease the pain, however small a part it may play.
Depression is such a mystery... Keeping those that are close, a little closer, a kind word, and a smile to the rest... Sorry for the pained survivors...RRR
How tragic. Depression is so awful. My heart goes out to those girls that she left behind.
The restraint and compassion you show here is compelling. The details you give, the things you leave out, show grace and love for your friend and the ones he left behind.

My first wife took her life, but waited until our daughter was in her 20s to do so, after two decades of self-destruction and hanging on. Depression is pervasive, and difficult to discuss, even today.

You bring such humanity to this. They were lucky to have a friend like you.

I am glad her daughters are doing well.
So sorry, Greg. Thank you for adding this.
S o deeply sorry for your loss. We too lost a dear family friend-- a gentle sweet fellow adored by all-- in a similar manner.

Depression is a hateful bastard of an illness that is too often dismissed as a character flaw or a lack of willpower. Thank you for speaking out and shedding light on this ruthless killer.
I'm very sorry Leah for your loss. My 26 year old step-daughter took her life a year ago. Unlike you, we never saw the happy go lucky person before she died. I have read a lot about suicide, and apparently when a person is that depressed, and have decided that suicide is the only answer, they become calm, peaceful and probably happy for the first time in their disease of depression.
My step-daughter tried a number of times, times which we weren't aware of. I believe now, that had we known, we might of been able to do something. However, I have to let that go as well, because even if watched them as closely as you can, somehow, soneway, if they are that unhappy, they will succeed.
So in the end, there is nothing that we could of done. They are in peace now. No more black holes. For that we can grateful.
Oh 49, so very very sorry. There seems to be little one can do except perhaps protect the person from themselves. And they have to decide that. Styron put himself into the hospital when he felt the worst and the blackness passed, until the next time.
Your piece makes me want to travel back in time to meet Delia and her family when they were all together. Having suffered a serious depression in the early '90s, what I remember most about the year when it was deepest is the certainty I felt that suicide was THE answer, that I would have been doing it FOR my children rather than TO them, and how everything in the world made perfect sense to me then. Of course, the world does not make perfect sense and any thought that it does is a sign of sickness or delusion. I love this messy world now.

Your piece also reminded me of a time when I drove my son over to his best friend's house for a birthday party the boy's mother was having for him. Pulling into their driveway, I saw Phil's mom going here and there, fixing the balloons she'd attached to the barn and lamppost, straightening the tablecloth on the picnic table decked out with party fare and presents at one end. She was laughing and greeting the guests. Two weeks later she shot herself in the head in their home. The devastating contrast between the party and her suicide has never lessened in the fifteen years since. Phil is and will always be my unofficially adopted son in my heart.

It is so easy for some who have not experienced depression to say "just get over it." Oh, man, would that it were so for those who struggle daily, hourly, second by second to stay alive. Thanks for your post, Lea.
SuiJuris, thank you so very much for this heartbreaking comment. I wish you strength and happiness.
Another bond, Lea. A close friend of mine in her 30s killed herself as the result of postpartum depression thatcould have been treated adequately if her husband hadn't interfered. My heart goes out to you and to your friend's family.
Lea, this post makes me want to cry. How terribly sad for her, her family and for her loved ones, like you. How did her death affect you? You don't really allude to that at all in this post.
patricia, I l hope the actions speak for how I felt. The fact that I have her photo on my ledge along with my family says how I feel the most. Great loss, still.
You are right, Lea, Styron's Darkness Visible is an important book for anyone who has been touched by suicide, or has thought about it. Styron was lucky; he emerged from the darkness, and we are fortunate because we could learn from him.
Merrie, so good to see you here. That book was a godsend to many. Unfortunately it came too late for my friend.
It's seems inexplicable when this happens. You've managed to explain it simply -- a terminal illness. No one's fault.
This brought tears to my eyes. I'm very sorry for your loss, her family's loss, and the loss of your friend. She sounds wonderful. As I read this, I think of way too many people I've known who have killed themselves...their lives ended much too soon for my liking...and I also know how much they suffered in their lives. Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute.