Typically narcissistic blogging.

Suicide

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a really tough time, and she mentioned something that I related to entirely: the active and conscious effort she is having to put in to not jump in front of a bus. Now, before you all start screaming about intervention and 5150, let me explain something, first.

Because I think, given some of the ridiculously stupid shit people say about suicide to me and to others, it’s time to come out of the closet: almost every day for the past couple years (and actually, for much of my life) has included the conscious decision to survive the day. Some days, that’s easy. Some days I have to actively remind myself of why I should choose to live. Some days I just make myself numb with weed, watch tv and let the hours slide by, because that’s all I trust myself to do. But I choose to live, every day, whether it is a good day, or a bad day, or a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

People talk about suicide in terms of weakness and strength, selfishness, rudeness. All of those things are factors. But there’s also the issue of perspective. Which is to say, what might seem like piddlyshit to one person might be devastating to the next. I have yet to meet the circumstance that would be sufficiently devastating to send me over the edge, but that doesn’t mean I won’t (doesn’t mean I will, either).

2010 and 2011 were brutal, and 2012 has brought blow after blow after blow and let me tell you, I am fucking tired of wishing that my heart had an “Eject” button. I am tired of living with everything I’ve had to live with (here is where I will get the “Buck up! That’s just life!” comment from some jackass who has never experienced the desire to just fucking end it. Save it. I know life is hard. But when every day in a given week—or every other day, or even a single day—feels like being thigh-deep in the Swamps of Sadness after watching Artax die, it becomes a little overwhelming).

Thus far there is nothing I haven’t been able to weather. People call this strength. But strength is a trap. When people expect you to be strong all the fucking time, showing weakness is nigh on impossible, which is why for the vast majority of my friends, this post is going to be news. There is no real break from being strong. There’s (prescription) drugs, but in the rare event that they work—my body laughs at most drugs and tells them to come back with something stronger, next time—while they mute the depression they also mute everything the fuck else, and I would rather feel everything I am feeling than feel nothing. I will resort to them when I know it is impossible to drag myself out of some pit without them, but not before.

And it’s really difficult some days when somebody says, “You’re strong, you can do this” to respond with, “I know,” and not with, “Fuck you. I want to be weak, this time. I want to give up.”

I don’t call it “strength”. I call it “determination”.

People talk about how selfish people have to be to commit suicide. Yes. Ultimately it is a selfish act. It is an act done for that person and that person, alone. They may have convinced themselves that people would be better off without them; obviously most of the time they are utterly incorrect. But that justification at its foundation remains a selfish one.

The experience will be different for everybody, but part of my conscious decision to live involves remembering all the people who would be hurt and confused by my death. But, as I said, I have yet to experience something devastating enough to make me lose sight of them, and I remain fully aware that this is a possibility. So I never judge people who have genuinely attempted or committed suicide—not for their selfishness. I just assume that the decision was made at a point where the people they loved stopped being real to them in the face of whatever anguish drove them to the act.

I find that the people who don’t understand this have little-to-no experience with that level of depression and pain, and are assuming that whatever depths of sadness they have experienced are the most extreme anybody else might suffer as well. I have begun calling it “emotional privilege” in my head. I’ll never forget the day I was watching The Wall with a woman I was seeing and she turned to me halfway through the movie and said, “But why doesn’t he just get over it?”

(Click to see entire picture @ the source)

Now, let me make something clear: I am not defending suicide as an option. If I thought it was viable, I might not be sitting here in my messy room writing this post while I have Top Gun on in the background to unheavy this shit a little bit. I have lost people to suicide. Both friends and family. I have experienced that particular hurt and confusion, the search for answers, the need to find meaning in an act that causes such extraordinary pain to those who have been left behind, the endless questioning—what if I had been there, called more, texted back, remembered to say “I love you”? Oh, God, what did they need? What could I have done?

But what I am saying is that this has been my experience. And I am not the only one who feels that way. And talking to my friend yesterday was helpful to me, and hopefully to her, because when it becomes a shared experience, when you can remember that one other person has some understanding of it, then it becomes more difficult to forget that there are other people in your life, in general, and more difficult to lose sight of them.

Most days I’m fine. I’m not always walking around in a lightless slimy pit of despair, and I don’t want to give the impression that I am. 

And I have never seen this guy anywhere.

This post isn’t a ploy for attention. It is not a plea for help. I am not writing this for your advice (in fact, unless you have something in mind that is mind-blowingly new and possibly alien, don’t fucking bother. I’ve been dealing with my own issues far longer than you have and I have made my decisions for how to manage my situation consciously and with pretty comprehensive knowledge of what is available to me). Actually, it was really difficult to make the decision to write it, because I don’t want my friends to change the way they act around me or talk to me. I don’t want people to freak out, or worry. I am hoping that everybody realizes that this is not new and that I am still exactly the same person they knew before they read this. I want the opposite of attention.

This post is partly an attempt to educate, but mostly putting myself out there in the hopes that the people who need to find this post, do. And when they do, I hope they reach out. I’ll be waiting right here.

20 responses

  1. Jenn

    This is beautifully written. I have experienced much of this, but often struggle to find people who understand.

    July 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • Thank you. And, yes. Finding people who understand, or even people who we can trust enough to try to create understanding can be really, really difficult.

      July 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

  2. Thank you for opening up about this. Suicidal ideation is so very seductive, but thus far I have refused its grasp. I think mainly because I’m too chicken shit to follow through. Sending you hugs from too far away.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    • I miss your hugs. One of these days I am going to get down there. :)

      July 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm

  3. Sarah

    It’s strange to stop and think that this is not actually the natural background struggle of everyone’s life, when it’s such a huge presence in mine. Thanks for talking about it.

    July 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

  4. I… got broken up with or broke up with this past week, I’m not sure which. The question came: “Will you be OK?”

    The answer: “No. No I won’t. But yes. Of course I’ll be OK. I’m always OK. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”

    Lord knows I’ve been very, very intimate with the fine line between OK and not OK.

    “I’m OK when everything is not OK” is one of the saddest lines ever written. It is my life’s work, which I am amazing at, and which is awesome in my professional life… and fucking tragic in my personal life.

    July 23, 2012 at 1:08 am

    • I have been training myself not to ask “Will you be okay” or “Are you okay” in such situations because of course Yes, No, and Maybe all apply.

      “I’m okay when everything is not okay” should be on a crest above my fireplace. Or rather, my heaterplace.

      July 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

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  6. Barb

    I can totally relate to this post.

    I tell people that my desk/work area is a mess and that my house is a wreck because it keeps me alive. Meaning, I don’t off myself because I don’t want people to have to deal with my disaster area and clean up when I’m gone. They think I’m kidding. They also think I’m kidding when I say that some days, the only thing keeping me from driving off a cliff, is that we crap our pants when we die.

    As far as the mess goes, I can see how some episodes of Hoarders come along.
    *hugs from a stranger*

    July 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    • It’s interesting what we find to motivate ourselves to keep going. Once on a really, really bad day during a particularly dark time I resolved to make it home alive just because I had to pee really badly and wanted to avoid being found with urine-soaked jeans.

      Thanks for sharing.

      July 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    • Wow, oh my god! I thought I was the only one who thought that! Messiness as a form of self-protection measure. As long as my house is a mess, I won’t kill myself. I also don’t want people cleaning up my stuff (or more realistically, going through my stuff!).

      Thank you for sharing that. I feel a lot less alone now.

      And like whiskeypants, I also don’t want people to freak out when I say things like that. It’s not a plea for help. I don’t need a hospital. It’s just my reality right now.

      Thanks for posting.

      September 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

      • Thanks for responding and sharing!

        Nobody who feels this way should think they are alone. It only makes it worse.

        September 5, 2012 at 6:44 am

  7. No words today, WP. Just hope it feels better soon.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:14 am

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  9. foo

    The other day I was hanging out with someone. We were drunk, and he offhandedly mocked me and my depression. I’ve never been diagnosed with anything but I’m 30-40 years old and the personal historical patterns exist. I feel like I’ve made all wrong friends and continue to hang out with people who are not like me and people whom I don’t need to be around.

    Everyone else moved along a very long time ago, or else I guess I pushed them away. I feel both like I’m being unfair to these people whom I’ve known for a long time but who I am basically a chameleon with (sometimes, it depends) and at the same time I really get annoyed at them sometimes. I never know what to do. Typically we just get drunk or high (which [nd]umbs me sufficiently). I usually just try to be affable, but lately I’ve just wanted to stay in my room and stare at the wall.

    My question is this: have you ever felt similarly? Typically I feel like I am being a burden and that it would be too much work to get my shit in working order (if even possible at this point).

    January 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    • I think your experience is different from mine on a number of levels. My situation vis a vis my friends, for example, sounds much more healthy than yours. It sounds like you don’t know who to trust and in lieu of trusting friends, you trust the intoxicants. I can understand that; sometimes all you want is a drinking/smoking buddy. It just shouldn’t be all you have.

      It sounds as if you need to decide that A. you are worth the effort to get your shit together and feel better (that was a difficult move for me); B. you deserve strong, supportive friendship; C. you are going to do something about A & B. I don’t know if you have tried therapy, but it also sounds as if having one person you can talk to about anything (without having to be a chameleon, which is exhausting and, I think, more depressing than not) would be really good for you.

      January 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

      • foo

        Thank you for your candor.

        January 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        • I’m all about candor. I don’t know if that comment was at all helpful to you, but I do hope you start seriously considering your needs. And I hope you don’t give up.

          January 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

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