It’s been a few weeks since I’ve reached out to you. I hope you’re well, out there living your life. I’ve thought of you often, and wanted to update you. I was busy. I’ve moved, rearranged my work schedule completely, wrapped up a school semester, and started dating someone casually. Most of those things could warrant their own lengthy explanation, and maybe they’ll come in time. The guy is sweet, well mannered, and I’m starting to like him. I’m starting to get obsessed with when he’s going to quit being so shy and kiss me already in the way only a woman can. Not too obsessed though. I’m confident, we like each other, and we’re moving slowly, it’s nice.
Tonight though, I’m feeling a little darker. I’m not feeling like hurting myself, I’m not even really depressed. I’m just feeling introspective, and entertaining the dark side. An anniversary is about to roll around, of a suicide. This year will make 6 years. I didn’t date him, but we’d been friends for about 10 years. Jason was my best friend’s boyfriend. Katie was my best friend. Stephen was my boyfriend. All when we were about 14-16, the first serious relationships, and a guaranteed double date. Katie and I had been friends since we were 7 and Jason and Stephen had known each other longer. Stephen and I failed, Jason and Katie when on and off and on and off. These stories are longer too, but we all managed to remain friends in the long run. We remained friends until Jason hung himself, about 5 years 11 months ago. The remaining friendships have all splintered and failed since then. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but today, I’m trying to talk about my thoughts and experiences with suicide.
That takes me back to my first suicide attempt. I was 14, 15 in 6 weeks. I was a freshman in high school. It was a weekend night, and it was late, or early, depending on how you look at it. I was wide awake, with a million thoughts running through my head, just muddled. It’s hard to describe this kind of agitated depression to a sane person. Depression is so lazy, that’s how it’s understood. This rage that bubbles up in me, this anxiety, this need to move, but a brain full of negativity, it’s so awful. I’ve learned to deal with these feelings differently, but what I’ve learned to call agitated depression is the worst. This was my first experience with these feelings. At 14, I wasn’t having the easiest time. Before I unleash my complaints, I want to state that I’m an adult now. I see things a lot more realistically. I am so thankful for the things my parents gave me in spite of the hardship they experienced. As a depressed teenager, things felt different. My family was going through a lot. I had a grandmother that needed full time care. I helped with that, giving up extracurricular activities and time with friends. It also took up a lot of my parents resources; time, money, emotional well being. Care giving is difficult. We also had my brother with his budding mental health issues. He was already having very real problems in school, had multiple psych appointments per week, and was on medication. I was a good student and relatively well behaved and responsible. My parents left me to my own devices more often than not. Now I see this as a product of the environment we were in, and their way of giving me space after all the help I had to give. Alone in my room on that night, I felt abandoned. All anyone ever wanted was help, or work, or babysitting, or butt wiping. My good grades didn’t matter, no one came to my concerts, if I was able to get away to go. I didn’t go to dances, I didn’t go to football games. The 1200 on the SAT freshmen year, still didn’t get me a single “atta girl.”
School had always been a good escape. There I had friends, and books, and I was almost always the smartest in the class. High school was really different. I did not fit in at all. I was a weird kid. I had the multi-colored hair and the baggy, over-sized jeans. No one seemed to like the smartest kid anymore. Boys liked the smart girl LEAST of all. All anyone seemed concerned about was pairing off. I was teased and bullied constantly. Freshmen year alone, I was: put in a locker (half size), spit on, had gum/candy thrown on me, water bottles thrown at me, asked about the color of my pubic hair, and I don’t know what all else. School was no longer the safe haven it had been, and without the time outside school to keep my friendships up, most of them were failing too. My old friends were changing, falling into cliques, and I was too busy with my dysfunctional family for all that.
So at almost 15, I’d had enough. I had severe care giver burnout, and was being bullied and ignored. As much as I had everything I needed, I had nothing I wanted, and I had no positive outlets. All these negative thoughts and things had piled up on me, and I was so tired that I couldn’t even slow down or stop. I’d been doing sit ups for about an hour, and I felt like I’d explode if I stopped. I just wanted to stop the fever pitch of thoughts and feelings, taking over my brain and body for the worse. Then, as if spoken by god or something it occurred to me. Dead people don’t think, or feel, or anything. I collected all the medicine I could find. I got the biggest cup I could find. As much as some people may say they were in some kind of fog, I wasn’t. I was very methodical. I can still remember all the medicine specifically. I took everything, even the children’s cough syrup for my little brother. I can still remember the one liter glass that I got, hoping to only have to make one trip for water. I made a little nest of blankets and pillows on the floor. I had a trash can, I thought I might throw up some, I had no idea what I was in for. I eventually had to call 911, I wasn’t dying quietly, or painlessly. It was pretty awful. I died for a few minutes. I spent a few weeks in the hospital, and got a reputation at school that I could have lived without. I started a long strange battle with mental health that is still raging for me, and my room still smelled like my own medicine puke when I got home. Oh, and that wasn’t the only time I tried. Also, sometimes it still seems like a really good idea.
I’ve had a few other friends attempt suicide and spend time in the hospital. There are a few suicides on my family tree, one by starvation. It’s a nut tree, if you’re wondering. I’ve flirted with death, and still fantasize about it. I’ve starved myself to look like a walking corpse. With all of this experience, how do I feel about suicide? Meta-cognitive, no bull shit answer? It’s really selfish. There’s all kinds of literature and positivity about how it’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem, and if you or someone you know is suicidal, get help, get help now. Those things are true, and anyone feeling that way can call 1-800-273-8255. Or, you can just realize how selfish it really is. Go to any suicide survivors support group and talk to those people about their mixed and confused feelings about why that person is gone. Think about who will have to clean out your home or your room, think about who will find your body. Think about your funeral, and your crying friends and coworkers. Think about your family. Whatever it is that appeals to you. Think about your online friends, think about the guy at the gas station. You exist, and someone will notice your absence. More than likely, several people will be very hurt and upset by your absence. There are financial issues. All of these things have to be sorted out, by someone else. You just take all your problems, your whole life, and dump them on everyone else. Not only that, but you take away all the positivity and goodness you have, and all the potential within you from your loved ones and the world. What if you were the next great mind? Cure for cancer? Aids? End world hunger? Or maybe you just volunteer at the soup kitchen, because those people probably have it worse than you. Get out of your own head and your own problems for a minute or an afternoon and maybe you’ll see they’re not that bad.
At the end of the day, I’m guilty. I have been very, very selfish. I’m getting older now, and I just feel so lucky to be alive and well. Life is strange, but I read somewhere that the answer is 42. I think I’ll figure the rest out, and so will you.