One can read all the stats on record about Black women and suicide without receiving the benefit that comes with Regarding Megan Marie: Conquering Depression & Acquiring the Skill of Happiness – Surviving Suicide (One Dragonfly Publishing).
Megan Bussen’s exhaustively detailed, first-hand account of how she came to grips with mental illness goes beyond numbers and charts to put you right there. The book immerses you in what she went through during her descent into a personal hell and how she prevailed.
Most suicide attempts are melodramatic cries for help. The truism goes, if you sincerely want to commit suicide, you’ll succeed. Bussen, on her second attempt, drank anti-freeze, an indication that she was completely serious and would’ve truly taken herself out had not an alert doctor spotted and diagnosed signs others missed.
For that matter, Regarding Megan Marie touches on a disquieting truth: blind faith in physicians is trust misplaced. Statistics bear out that if you don’t walk onto a psych ward or into an office sufficiently insane, there are pill-happy medical professionals who will, as a matter of course, drive you crazy by prescribing cures that have maddening side effects.
Early on in the book, Bussen relates a cruel fact of life. That aberrant behavior, not to mention the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness, will quick, fast and in a hurry reveal who, among your friends and, for that matter, family do not have your back when you most need them.
“Most…had dropped out of my life. Some came right out and said that they thought I was selfish for the [suicide] attempt. I asked another friend why she didn’t come visit me on the psychiatric unit. She said she had just been busy. Wow! That hurt very badly.”
A hard, harsh wake-up call. She finds herself haplessly shuttling from a makeshift existence of crashing with her parents — as a grown woman and mother of teenaged daughters — to languishing on a ward at Fairview Riverside, wasting away to virtual skin and bones, eventually to subsisting in aftercare.
All the while, absolutely miserable, still earnestly trying to do herself in — three attempts in all. It’s difficult to imagine descending to such anguished depths the most constructive act you can consider is ending your life.
It has to be harder still, marshaling the wherewithal and strength to save yourself, which, the author importantly notes, is gradual and, like any long journey, starts with by bravely putting the first foot down in front of the other.
“I believe my first glimpse of light…started on a daily basis with [the] occupational therapist. For once, I was focusing on something. My mind was clear because I was finally off all medications.”
Not that she suddenly began living anymore happily ever after than anyone else can reasonably expect to do — it took a prolonged period of recovery. She stayed, gradually pulling her life back together with help from the friends and family who’d remained faithful, along with responsible care at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Finally, on her feet once more, she is longer a metal and emotional wreck. She has grown sufficiently stable to confront and cope with life on life’s terms, deal with the ups and downs, and as the expression goes, keep keepin’ on.
The manuscript could’ve benefitted from skilled editing to render it a bit less disjointed and cluttered, more smoothly organized, but, the story is there. Vitally, it clearly stands as encouragement to others.
And while it doesn’t end by sending the heroine off on a cloud of personal glory, it concludes on a note that lifts reader’s spirits after accompanying her on an arduous ordeal. She notes, “Finding that safe place within yourself is definitive. Learning how to love yourself each and every day is definitive.”
To purchase a copy of Regarding Megan Marie: Conquering Depression and Acquiring the Skill of Happiness: Surviving Suicide, visit Amazon.com.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes readers’ responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.