Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I saw my acupuncturist friend Spike for several months in 2009. Even after I stopped going to him for treatment, we kept in touch on Facebook. Usually he would IM me and we would chat. I wasn't always in the mood and sometimes wished he wouldn't IM me so often. Then I started dating Ivan the Terrible, and at some point Spike stopped IMing me.

Lately I've been wondering how he's doing, especially since I started volunteering as a detox acupuncturist and went to another acupuncturist for knee treatment. This morning, after I woke up at 3 am and went to the bathroom and couldn't fall back asleep, I went to his Facebook page to see what he was up to, leave him a message.

There weren't any recent posts by Spike. But there were a ton from his friends. I'll share the most recent three:

happy thanksgiving spike may you rest in peace

Miss you, Spike....more than a year without you here...I hope you see my mom and tell her hi...she knows all about you. :) *hugs*

Spike, my brother in arms. It's been a year(and some days) and it seems as though it was only yesterday that Derek gave me the news that you left this earth. Attending your funeral last year was one of the most unreal, heartbreaking, and hurtful things I had to do in my life right next to my grandmother's funeral. I remember you joked around one time with Dave and Lester...

Oh, no. No. See, there's something I never told you about Spike: He had type 1 bipolar disorder.

Like so many with that horrible disease, he was brilliant and talented. He played several instruments, practiced Kung Fu, administered acupuncture and other forms of traditional Chinese medicine, wrote poetry (rhyming and free verse), and was thinking about going to med school to become a truly holistic psychiatrist.

But in September 2010, he jumped into the Hudson River. They found his body in October.

I can't feel responsible. I know I rarely if ever initiated a FB chat with him, and maybe I conveyed my reluctance to him somehow. But he had friends and family. He was dearly loved. He wasn't completely alone. I don't know why their love and support wasn't enough. Or maybe I do.

I don't know what to call how I feel. I'm so sad that he suffered so much, because I know what that's like. I'm so sad he didn't see any other option but to end his suffering by ending his life. I'm confused, because he had so much to give, and so many people loved him. I was so shocked, so grieved, I had to send his sister a note:

Holly, I met your brother when I went to Lincoln Recovery Center for detox acupuncture training. He treated me in 2008-2009 for knee pain. I am so sorry for your loss -- I hadn't been in touch with him for a long time, and just this morning I looked on his page to reconnect. I hope the messages on his page are a comfort to you and your family.

She was gracious enough to respond:

Thank you for your kind words, Ayelet. Spike is greatly missed, but I am heartened by the tremendous number of people he touched. I continue to learn from my brother every day. Thank you again for reaching out. I wish you a safe and warm holiday.

I know I'm lucky I have type 2 bipolar, not type 1. The latter is so frequently fatal, as Kay Redfield Jamison documented brilliantly in her book on suicide, Night Falls Fast. Billy Joel sings that "Only the Good Die Young." In the case of bipolar disorder, it's too often true.

Tonight I lit the first Chanuka candle. It burns alone in the menorah. Kind of like me. Things are over with EG -- he doesn't appreciate me, and he's probably not ready for a serious relationship. So I am alone for the foreseeable future, as usual.

Will I jump into the Hudson? Unlikely. At the very least I'm getting excellent support and reinforcement at my job. My supervisor and fellow social workers appreciate me and believe in me. If I didn't have that, I don't know what I would do.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear about your friend.

    This happened to me with my friend Greg, a former co-worker I'd fallen out of touch with for a couple of years. I went to his FB page to see how he was doing, and his status (obviously put up by his family) read: "I lost my battle to cancer on 4/27/10". Very sad. I wish I'd known.