20th December, 2016. This was the day I was meant to die. Suicide. I had it planned for approximately three months, and in those three months I knew that I was already a dead person walking, but wanted to know if I could ever feel alive again.
Growing up, I had always known that my life would end by my own hand, and the older I got the more certain this notion became. I had always visited this option as just that, an option; a thought when life seemed unbearable, when desperation kicked in and I wanted the pain to stop. Something always kept me alive though. I always woke up the next morning and continued on in my misery because that is what I thought my only option should be. That I should somehow retract and recollect all the volatile emotions from the cage that only I could see, and just keep moving like nothing had changed. To others, nothing had. In all of the times that I had wanted to die, it seemed as if my emotions took complete control, and during those times, I had never sought help from therapists to know what introspection could mean from a mental health perspective.
About three months ago, I started to question the notion of what I “should do.” I learned in therapy that for my own sanity, as it were, I should try and not focus on what I think I should be feeling and doing, but rather address what I do feel and how I act. Admittedly, I related this sense of mental liberation to suicide. Taking encouragement from already making peace with my self harming rituals, I wanted to know the answer to one question: Why was suicide so wrong? I wanted to know why everyone wanted to save my life if I didn’t want to be saved. Was it me? Was it a personal thing? Was it love and care? If so, why would they want me to continue in such pain and grief and isolation as I was feeling? My friends, I could understand, but what were the motives of my therapists? Yes, I even questioned these. For a while even, I was convinced, with absolute certainty, that they wanted to change who I was. My entire personality – changed to suit the requirements of a conventional society. They wanted me to conform. I understand how that sounds, but a belief is hard to shake. In all honesty, there are traces of it still. The more I asked the question of why suicide was so wrong, and the longer I went without answers, the more certain I was that it was the only thing for me to do. It was logical to me. I was in pain. A pain that seemed to take over every space of me. My interactions were hurting me, my circumstances were hurting me, breathing was hurting me. I didn’t want to live. Additionally, I had tried therapy, I had tried medications, I had tried my own concoction of coping through self harm, alcohol and prescription abuse to numb it all for as long as I could. Nothing was working. I was stuck and my options ultimately boiled down to living in Hell or death. I picked death.
For the first two weeks after making my decision, I was relieved, lighter somehow. I felt good. I hadn’t felt so good in so long, I just knew it was the right decision. Eventually, that blackness crept back in. It wasn’t enough that I had put suicide on the table, it had to happen soon. I had to have it as a reason to get through my dismal days and angry nights. It had to be more than just an idea. It was more than an idea, it was an obsession. So, I set the date. There was nothing significant to the 20th of December, it just seemed like enough time to plan; my death and my goodbyes to the people I cared about. At the time, I was ending a stressful part of my life, so the time frame also accounted for the possibility that I may feel better about life and living once this stressful period had ended. I did tell my mental health team about it, my plans; not a specific date you see, just that I wanted it and I had a date and even a plan. Telling them, of course, came with the promise that I would try my best to “live” again, so as to be convinced to make it long term. One last attempt at living before I die.
I will concede that twice before this date I came very close to ending it impulsively. An accumulation of depressive thoughts, hallucinations and sleep deprivation resulted in extremely overwhelming thoughts of immediate self-destruction.
That first time really destroyed my mind, my sense of self, my trust in myself. I have always been a person who relied on herself and her own thoughts and decisions to get her through. So, at first, when I wanted to end it, I accepted it. I collected my things to just enact the plan from December. While I was doing so, something was niggling at my brain. Something wasn’t right about it. And, I started crying. For this, I was hard on myself. Why would I cry if this was something I had wanted for so long? What was the problem? After some introspection I remembered a part of the me that I recognized. You see, I have never been a person to believe in absolutes when it comes to a decision or a course of action. There is always doubt and there is always more than one way and combinations of the different ways to reach a goal. On that day, suicide was the only solution, and there was no other way to get better. This shook me to my core. I have never before felt such a schism in my mind, and I didn’t know which side was the actual me. If there was a me in there. Which side do I trust? Which side do I act upon? I lost myself so entirely that day, truly. I don’t trust others easily, I accept advice but ultimately always made up my mind on the trust I placed on my mind. To lose that felt like losing everything.
It is safe to say I didn’t recover from that day.
I have been going through life as if a shell with an emptiness inside. Sometimes existing – though mostly disbelieving this, sometimes knowing of the people I have in my life but not quite connecting, always forcing myself to act or interact. For the most part, I was a shell that could not reignite any spark that I once had. In anything. Stuck in the limbo between knowing I am capable, that I once had passion, and not obtaining any emotion from anything that I used to have that passion for. I had no desire to do anything, and if forced to do something, I would get no feedback from it. It would simply be a waste of whatever limited energy I had. And the days would go on like this. On and on. Then, the second time. The second time I did show emotion. Violence and anger. I needed to just explode. Die violently. Rip myself apart as much as I could hold out for and let everyone just deal with whatever remained. What stopped me was the knowledge that I wasn’t home alone at the time, and would have been caught in the act, and that would have lead to too many questions that I just didn’t want to answer. Very unsatisfying. My shell continued.
As the days got closer to the 20th, I decided not to tell anyone about the significance. I was getting very bitter at everyone, friends and therapists alike. I continued to function as I was, not caring about anything, and all I got told was how great it was that I am making progress, that I am doing things, I am functioning, I am achieving. Over and over. I didn’t see it or feel it, so how was I supposed to believe it? Everyone pointing me down the road of getting back on medication, everybody on this one track and me feeling like I was living and acting and trying because of all of these people. No more me in my own world, and pushed into continuing on anyway. Truly, I was that shell; no person inside. Is that living? Is that even being alive?
When the date came, I needed to just retreat from everyone and seriously think. I needed to choose to trust my mind again because there is no life for me relying on others to show me a way of living. I needed to rid myself of the input from others, irrelevant of their good intentions for me. Ungrateful as it may seem, I needed space with as little extraneous emotions involved. I knew that I could not just deny my suicidal thoughts – my desire for action upon it – as my depression and anything good I knew of myself to be the real me. If I deny one, I deny both and that is death. If I accept one, I accept both – I have to -and that is the high-wire of potential of both life or death. Intellectually, I knew that I did (and still do) have a tether to this world. It is the new people in my life who I am very slowly beginning to believe and trust in – that their intentions for my life and their care for me are genuine, and my care for them is the same. I know my thoughts obfuscate these very tangible and positive things, but in general I can see that they exist, and I have grown to appreciate them. Logically, I knew I had just started new medication, so there was potential for change given patience on my part – a tall ask, but at this point everything is. Finally, I noted utter disbelief and wondered whether, after having lasted so long in this Hell, and the chance to get out being closer than ever; was I going to let go now? Especially, under these newly changed circumstances? I can tell you that on this day, my logic saved my life.
Obviously, I granted myself a stay of execution. I cannot tell you that at the snap of my fingers I trust my mind again, my actions or my decisions. I cannot say that I am even living my life for me again, because I am not. It is a big thing for me to trust my friends when they tell me I am worth life, and I admit, I am alive still for them and my therapists; beholden or obligated to them somehow. I cannot say that I want to be alive even. I don’t. I am still that shell that walks around trying to figure out how to keep functioning when I have no reasons to; when I don’t feel there is a me that is functioning. I cannot tell you how much all of this knowledge pains me everyday, or how beaten and defeated by life that I feel. As such, I cannot guarantee the continuance of my life. I am still that dead person walking. On this side of the 20th though, I have no more time limit to feel alive again. I think that might make all the difference.