Trigger warning for discussion of suicide.
I can’t claim to be able to talk about this with any level of coherency or even deep understanding of what I went through. What I’m trying to do this week is at least get some of this out there, in whatever scattershot manner that I can. Apologies in advance for anything that doesn’t make sense.
First off I want to say that my suicidal isn’t someone else’s suicidal. I’m only speaking for me here and don’t claim that my experience can be extrapolated to somebody else’s. Ditto for any conclusions that might be drawn here, though I have no idea what said conclusions might be.
Second I want to say that I’m struggling with trying to convey for people the concept of how serious suicide is, how serious it was for me, how mental illness is not something that can be cured by a stiff upper lip and so on and so forth. Yet… here I am. So clearly as bad as it was there was something that kept me from adding to the number of people whose depression truly was a fatal illness. Honestly I’d say luck. Luck that out of all the suicidal people out there I had the circumstances that allowed me to get away from the brink even when I was 99.9999999999999999999999999999999% of the way towards it.
I’m honestly marveling about this as I write it. Why me? No clue. It bears thinking about. But I want it absolutely clear that even though I’m here to type this and others aren’t, it has NOTHING to do with me being strong, then being weak, or anything like that. No more than somebody who dies because of cancer did so because they lacked courage. We all go through this war and some of us get hit by the bullets and some don’t. There’s no moral judgement to be made about that.
So. For me.
Going back through my journal entries of my worst times there is a theme of having reached what I suppose could be called a saturation point. I’d done various things to try to get better and nothing was working and I felt horrible and as though there was no end in sight. I wrote a few times about not being sure there was a better out there for me to get to.
There was always some element of thinking about death. Bearing in mind as I say this that usually thinking about death leads me into full on panic attacks. So much so that I’m cutting this paragraph short soon. But point being it’s not like my default state is all Yay! Dying!
So you go from that to various transformations of the thought process. It’s kind of like when you’ve got a really bad headache or stomacheache and are all “Oh man, kill me now.” Then there’s thinking that driving your car straight into a tree might take care of a lot of problems – even better if somebody would be thoughtful enough to hit your car and make it even easier. Nothing on purpose, just sort of a “man it’d be nice if….”
Then there was thinking about hanging myself. Funnily enough this was when I really knew something was wrong with my brain because my immediate thought after was – “That can’t be me, I’d never off myself by hanging. How would I even do it?”
I live on the first floor of a two floor building, I’m tall, heavy, and have nothing in my home that I could tie a rope to. Yet something in me would keep saying “But no, really, hanging!”
That still wasn’t it though.
What was it was when something in my brain flipped. That was the switch that said I needed to live. It wasn’t the depression or misery. If anything I’d say that was gone. I just knew that I was going to die.
There’s a moment that’s solidified in my mind as “the” moment. Some of you know that I used to work at a dentist’s office. This was the same dentist that my parents used. One day, at the end of their appointment, I was packaging up things to send over to Mom’s periodontist. The idea occurred to me that I could put a little note in with the x-rays and such to surprise Mom and Dad when they got there. Nothing much, just a “Hi! Love you!” kind of thing.
Then I thought – I can’t do that. Because by the time Mom gets to that appointment I’ll be dead, and then the note will just be cruel.
I’ve got that moment down in my journal. The whole time of being suicidal was longer than that, and involved thinking about swallowing lots of pills and researching ways to kill myself and actually be dead. But that was it in a nutshell – one day I knew I was going to die.