Ulla’s dog Solo
Ulla. Where do I begin?
When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.
Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.
How I hate writing that word “was”.
Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.
She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.
She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here.
Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.
We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!
Thetan looks like a lady
Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.
We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:
I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.
I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.
While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.
She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.
When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)
Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door.
Platitudes come to my mind:
“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”
I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:
I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.
On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.
Yve and Jill invite us to: “Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”
I’ll be there.
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017.