Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Sadness of Suicide - Reflections from the past week from an Aspie - Michael Bryan RIP

Hello Aspierations blog visitors!

This past week has been challenging for me emotionally.  I wasn't sure at first whether I should blog as to what has been bothering me, so I let one day turn into another and then another.  Now that a week has gone by, I'm going to give another shot to blogging.  Please bear with me as I fumble through my attempt!  One of my Aspie tendencies is to rewrite my words dozens of times, deleting, adding and hopefully at one point being satisified enough to press the "Publish Post" button. (I probably have more draft blog postings than actual postings!) We'll see how it goes this time around.  :-)

If you're new to my blog or haven't checked it out for awhile, my husband John and I are co-owners of Count Your Beans Dolls, Bears & Collectibles, a company that I founded in 1999 when I was pregnant with our first son, Justin.  Having just come off a stint with the now defunct Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour / Women's Professional Bowling Association, I knew that whatever I was going to do next "career-wise" would be something where I was my own boss.

Although we initially started out selling Beanie Babies and Giftware, we soon made a move to selling collectible dolls, a niche that we built into a nice family business that is now over 11 years old.  My entrance into the blogosphere actually came when I launched the Count Your Beans blog at the end of last year. 

Our primary line that we sell and have carried over the past 10 years has been Marie Osmond Collectible Dolls.  We were honored with receiving the Top 8 Marie / Charisma Brands Top Star Retailer Award multiple times during the years Marie's company offered that award. 

On multiple occasions, Charisma Brands and Marie Osmond invited John and I to special retailer events in Southern California and Las Vegas where we had the pleasure of meeting with Marie, her husband at the time, Brian Blosil, members of her family and the staff of Charisma Brands.

In each case, it was a fun and rewarding experience.  Marie and her family were always quite gracious, humble and welcoming.  Having grown up as a tomboy watching Donny & Marie on TV, I still find it quite amusing that as an adult, I would have a company that sells Marie Osmond dolls to collectors all around the world!

It is with great sadness that I learned last week of the passing of Marie & Brian's 18 year old son, Michael Bryan (known to many as Michael Brian Blosil but before his death his name was officially changed.)  I'm sure many of the people reading this blog may have heard about Michael's suicide but if you haven't, just google "Marie Osmond" and "Michael Bryan" or "Michael Blosil" and you will easily find reports. 

Michael was one of Marie Osmond and Brian Blosil's 8 children, 5 of which are adopted.  If you have followed my blog previously, you know that I am adopted also and that one of the reasons I felt like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle growing up was because of my adoption.  (See my blog post, "Before I Knew I Was An Aspie, My Puzzle Piece Didn't Fit.") 

I remember on a Larry King interview with Marie and Donny a few years back when the topic of Michael entering rehabilitation came up that Marie mentioned Michael having struggles with issues regarding his adoption. It reminded me of the all the times growing up that I wondered what my biological mother and father were like and if I knew who they were, would I ever feel like I fit into this world better? (That doesn't mean that I didn't consider my adoptive parents as my Mom & Dad. They will always hold that honor in my heart. I just wanted to know more about who I was, why I felt so different, why I felt so alone and awkward.)

There have been two separate circumstances in my life where I was directly involved in the prevention intervention of a male friend who was seriously considering attempting suicide.  The first time was when I was 17 and a freshman in college.  The second time was when I was 31.  (Different friends and fortunately both are still alive. Interestingly enough, I strongly suspect that both have Asperger's Syndrome.  Perhaps it is this connection...even though we were not diagnosed at the time... that allowed me to understand their pain more intricately than I might have otherwise.  Perhaps it allowed me the courage to reach out and help.) 

Having had my own battles and struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts in my teen and adult years well before I knew I had Asperger's Syndrome, I feel very sensitive to these lonely, debilitating battles and pray for hope and recovery for all those currently suffering. 

It has been reported that Michael Bryan struggled with long-term depression.  Please note that I am not saying that Michael had Asperger's Syndrome.  I mention the connection with AS above only as it relates to me and my own life circumstances.  There is no indication in any reports that I have read that this might be the case.  I suppose I have a special interest in his circumstance because he was a fellow adoptee, because I met him once, because he suffered from depression and because I have a business connection with his mom, Marie Osmond and at one point, Brian Blosil as well.

Although it is reported Michael appeared outwardly cheerful to many who considered him their friend, it appears that his more strenuous struggles were battled internally. Many who suffer with depression become quite good at wearing a mask. 

I wish I had some comforting words to say to Marie, Brian, Michael's brothers, sisters, extended family and friends.  I do not know the pain you are going through but I can imagine that it is excrutiatingly heartbreaking.  My family and I extend my condolences, thoughts and prayers that Michael is in a place where he is no longer hurting.

To those of you out there who think a friend or loved one might be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please reach out and help in any way that you can.  So often the person feels alone.  So often he/she feels like she has no friends, that no-one understands him/her, that things cannot possibly get better, that their situation or circumstances are unresolvable.  He or she may isolate him/herself when love and acceptance is really what they are craving. There can be great highs and lows, especially with those who suffer with bilpolar disorder / manic depression.

I am not sure what the statistics are of those who commit suicide and those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger's Syndrome but as many on the spectrum are prone to experiencing depression and other co-morbidities, it is important to know what to look for.

Here is a link about Depression, Suicide Risk and Autism that I found helpful from the website.

I also have found this link to be personally helpful:

If You Are Thinking About Suicide, Read This First

This week since Michael passed has been a challenging one for me because it now seems like wherever I go, the topic of suicide pops out at me.  John and I have of course read and listened to stories in the media of Michael Bryan and also Andrew Koenig but all week long, I've come across episodes of TV shows (NCIS LA), (Lie To Me), (Midsomer Murders) that had suicide as a featured story.  I try to turn it off and not think about it but my brain has a way of bringing what I don't want to think about back into the forefront at the most inopportune times.

I will talk more about about my own struggles with depression and PTSD in future blogs.  Although I want my Aspierations blog to have a positive, uplifting and empowering theme to it, I realize that to ignore the dark side of depression and Asperger's Syndrome or PTSD and autism in my writings would be doing myself, my two boys on the autism spectrum, my family and my blog readers a disservice.  I want Aspierations to be a place I can always talk about how I am genuinely feeling.  There are high days, there are low days... The good news is that through adversity can come success and personal growth even if it doesn't seem possible at the time.

Blessings to all who are struggling today....
May you find the inner strength to continue on your journey!