For those of you who have not heard this news yet, I apologize that you are hearing about it this way. I would have liked to tell you in person, or at least over the phone or email. I have spoken with so many relatives, friends and colleagues of both myself and my husband over the past three days that I am utterly exhausted – both mentally and physically. I hope you will understand.
Dear Friends and Family,It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. On Sunday afternoon, April 27, my husband Christopher Mark Leighton-Brooder passed away. To say that I am deeply devastated does not even cover the range of emotions I am feeling. I was out of town at my parent’s place in Wisconsin when he shot himself, and I found him Sunday afternoon after returning home. I feel incredibly sad that he was alone when he died, and wish that there had been something I could have done to save him.Words cannot express what I felt or how I reacted. I am just heartbroken and cannot believe he is gone. Christopher suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, and quite possibly bi-polar disorder although this had never been diagnosed. It is my belief that he was on the wrong medication and/or dosage because his primary care physician simply prescribed antidepressants without following up afterward. He simply refilled the prescription, time after time over the last 2 years, with no questions asked. In fact, Christopher’s doctor did not even have a psychologist on record when the medical examiner inquired. To be honest, Christopher should have been seeing a psychiatrist to help him manage the combination of drugs he was taking as well as the dosages and side effects. I feel resentful towards his physician for not taking him seriously, and for the flippant nature in which his healthcare was managed.One of Christopher’s closest friends suffers from bi-polar disorder and talked to me about it a couple days ago. He says it took him many different doctors, medications, and treatments to find the right medication. He feels immense guilt because he had wanted to talk to Christopher about his manic-depressive episodes. I reassured Christopher’s friend that each of us feels like we could have done something more, particularly me.Christopher and I had been through marital counseling in 2007 for things that, in retrospect, seem quite trivial. However, I now see that they were symptomatic of much larger problems rooted deeply in his depression. Christopher never quite recovered from his mother’s death in 1999 and there were other factors that perpetuated his pain, fear, anxiety, and sense of hopelessness.Some of you knew Christopher before we started dating, and many of you met him over the course of the last 4 years. I never would have guessed that this is how it would end, and I am sure you would agree on that.Christopher was a bright star who did everything with immense passion – even if it meant expressing an unpopular opinion or embarrassing himself in the process. He often got himself into trouble for making inappropriate jokes or saying things without thinking, but people usually forgave him because he was such a lovable guy. He was extremely passionate about his design work, and this passion earned him much respect in his field.He came to be respected by his colleagues and friends because they knew that he would speak his mind and stand up for his beliefs, no matter what. His unique set of skills made him a valuable asset to any company at which he worked. He had immense talent in aesthetic design; expertise in technical infrastructure; a keen understanding of user experience, usability and human factors; and extreme passion for designing things the right way. These traits made him a valuable asset to each of the companies who employed his services throughout his career.I felt I could trust Christopher with my life. He loved me with such passion and abandon, and was honest to a fault. He was such a sensitive, loving person. I feel extreme guilt that I was drifting away from him when I should have been keeping an eye on him and monitoring his health, but I did not understand the depth and complexity of his illness. There were sides to Christopher that I never knew, that no one knew, and these things took control and told him what to do.I love him dearly, and am so completely sad that he will no longer be in my life. He was my ‘Marco’…I called him that because his dad calls him Mark (after his middle name). I know that he is now reunited with his mom, and somehow that gives me peace.Love, Susanne