*Trigger Warning* I’ll be talking about my experiences with suicide.
FYI I’ve killed myself a lot. No one would know. There’s a photo at my parents house of me, softball uniform on, smiling the biggest hammiest smile. That was 1 hour after a devastating blow and 12 hours before I’d be hospitalized & locked up for a week away from sharp objects. Be careful what you say around people you think are happy about people who are sad.
I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, and finding out it’s National Suicide Prevention Week finally got me typing. I don’t know where to start. I’m still here. Every birthday lately I marvel that I’m still here. I’ve tried to kill myself, imagined it, planned it, yearned for it, cried for it so many times I forget what it’s like to want to live.
Last year I went on a cruise and while my friends were discovering the eerie pull of the ocean over their banisters, I stared down relieved to feel nothing. 2 years of therapy at that point and dammit, it had helped. Cruises previous, wind in my ears, I’d hope people thought I was gazing up at the stars instead of down imagining my little head bobbing amongst waves, treading water afraid of sharks watching the ship leave me to my decision.
I was cured. And then it came back. This is the way of it and I’ve learned to be patient with myself. In a friend’s car this week I was startled to hear a suicide prevention ad. She said, “I don’t know how I feel about that. I believe in the right of each person to punch their own ticket.” This is not that.
It started when I was 10. I’ve hurt for so long I don’t know what it is to live without it. When it gets bad, death seems to be the only way out. The weighty ache hurts so bad sometimes it’s all I can do to soothe myself. Hanging, drowning, suffocating, electrocution, guns to the head, I’ve gone in each direction at least once.
I don’t want to die. I realized at some point I never really wanted to die. I wanted to make it stop. My sternum houses a constant inflamed throbbing. Sometimes when I cry I beat it with a fist like some grandmother at a wake. It loosens the sadness like phlegm but the cough comes back again.
I wish drugs, alcohol, gambling, anything else would work, but it doesn’t. I do eat. I’m an eater. But after the cookies are gone it’s back. The drumbeat of sorrow, of self-hate, dread, torture, return to weigh myself down and drown me in myself.
And no one would know. Because to tell anyone is to be weak. I can tap into the happiest, giggliest parts of me on camera, at parties, on dates. No one has ever called me on it. It’s a neat skill to have, but I’d rather the company.
So, for me, Suicide Prevention is not about keeping people from dying. It’s about chronic pain relief. I don’t know what you or your loved ones need. I needed a friend who understood. Who was patient. Who didn’t jump to inaccurate conclusions that left me feeling more alone. I needed compassion. I needed to know that speaking up wasn’t a pathetic cry for attention, but a desperate last attempt at surviving. While I am currently in remission, I know I will need these things again.
My story is a good one. I’m here. I’m alive! I have love and loved ones. I struggle to find meaning, but there’s enough. I have support. I have health care. I have the privilege to speak up about my broken brain and its aching heart. I have medication and don’t you dare tell me I can do it without it. I just started and it’s fantastic. For now, I don’t want to die anymore. I get to struggle with my next challenge — what the hell am I going to do with myself?
If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) I’ve called the suicide prevention hotline several times. They get it. And be kind to yourself. The least you can do is be kind.