The Truth about Suicide

Suicide is a topic I know well. I’ve never made it a secret I attempted suicide at 19. I really don’t care about whatever hang ups people have knowing that life isn’t always filled with unicorns, butterflies, and Snuggies. My own truth is not dependent upon their understanding.
The day RW passed I said suicide is selfish. I got a few angry messages over that (although I do respect the fact that these people contacted me and voiced their opinions in pretty thoughtful ways).
Suicide IS a selfish act, it’s the most selfish act we’re capable of. People view the word selfish as inherently negative, but here I mean it as simply isolating; pain, our pain, becomes the only thing we know and all we can act on. Suicide is the result of that narrowing of the scope of our existence. It’s our effort to end the misery we flounder in and nobody knows those depths better than those of us who’ve tried and failed. They don’t really make t-shirts for survivors, but maybe they should. Like, “I Attempted Suicide and All I got was this Lousy Hangover.” Not funny?
Yeah, I didn’t think so, either.
Suicide is us giving ourselves permission to acknowledge the pain we’ve been drowning in. The mindfuck is once we’ve allowed the admittance, it’s enveloping. Nothing else matters. It’s highly personal and comes with a detrimental set of blinders that really blocks out those around us who love us.
For a long time I’ve said – been rather insistent, even – that I will never attempt suicide again. When Williams died I realized something, though. That insistence is a defense. I’ve held onto it as a redeeming value and life lesson, but it’s really also been destructive because the idea gives me the illusion that ‘I’m cured’. I won’t ever try that again, so I must be ‘cured’. I’m fixed. Right?
Wrong. It’s been a handicap from the start, a way to placate myself with the notion that I’m better. What bullshit that I only realize this now.
Here’s the truth about living with depression:
Asking for help often doesn’t feel like an option. It’s like it’s not even a possibility. We can’t fathom how it would work, so we only know how to ask during a meltdown. Or if we’ve had help before, we feel like we’ve used up the allotted passes we get for being damaged. Who wants to put up with us on a daily to yearly basis, when we can’t even stand ourselves most of the time?
Life sucks and I feel like an asshole right now. Want to help an asshole out?
Suicide kills, unless you suck at it. Then, well, it’s just embarrassing. Care for a cup of coffee with a complete and utter fuckup?
That doesn’t even sound right in our heads, much less stammering from our lips with a gnawing vulnerability that we’ll be told no. So, it just feels easier not to ask.
It’s backbiting and insidious and fowl and Reality for millions of people all across the world. What do I do when the person in my corner during the fight Of my life is the scarred, raw version of me whispering, “Take the pills. Everyone would be better off…”?
No matter how much I wish I could punch that version of myself in the face and tell her to nipple up, I listen to her more than I would like.
The search for something to live for feels like this unending, impossible quest. Every smile feels like a lie, but it’s a journey many of us stay on for our families. We have to find something to live for, not for our sake, but for our families sake. We don’t want them to worry about us in the long term. We don’t want to be their burden. The hurt we’ve left in our wake just seems to snowball for our loved ones based on how badly we’re doing, so at some point in our recovery we become “Fine.”
“Thank you so much for being there for me.”
“I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through this without you.”
“Am I better? How do you mean?”
(Is it exhausting, worrying about me all of the time? Am I doing that to you? Am I hurting you because my feet keep missing solid ground?)
“Aww, your son is so cute! What was your favorite baby shower gift? Huh? Why are you asking me….You just had a baby. You should be happy. You shouldn’t worry about…”
“Please, stop worrying about me. I’ve caused you enough trouble as it is.”
“This is the place it stops, where I don’t hurt you anymore with my miseries, where I stop interrupting your life. This is it. I’m fine.”
“It’s Fine.”
“Things are Fine.”
“I’m fine.”
I’m not fine. I don’t know what fine feels like. I’m on a seesaw and sometimes I’m pretty good, but sometimes I hurt in ways that getting out of bed feels like an achievement for the day and even the week. Nobody can’t stop me from sinking. They can be there for the fall and hold my hand when I’m ready to re-emerge into the sun, but it’s not their job to do that for me.
There is no blame here. It was never on friends and family to save me. I will never meet a point where I’m cured and rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.
If you have a loved one struggling with suicidal ideation and depression, you need to know the way that person sees you. To be blunt, if you step in as my friend to help me in the bad times, it could very well be a permanent responsibility. I won’t blame you for not taking up that burden. It’s a difficult weight to carry.
If you’re going to volunteer to be there, be there for the long haul. If you offer your shoulder, make sure it stays there. Don’t say “Here, it was worth being there for you until this point here” and then tell us we’re not worth it anymore. Once we open up and trust you, don’t throw us away if it gets intense (because it will, that is the nature of the ideation). Be your words, not the platitude.
But know that even if you hold my hand it doesn’t mean you’ll save my life. Don’t go into this with that goal. Go into it to be of comfort to me, to be a friendly voice when I sequester myself and offer a hand when I’m ready to stand back up again. And if I fall in the end, know you could not have stopped me. I was on this path for so long that your words of comfort reached me only like an echo.
Because you DON’T HAVE TO KNOW the perfect words when my nerves are scraped raw and I’m emotionally hollow. You don’t have to know how to pull me back off a ledge when the world loses meaning and I feel lost. You don’t have to know how to put me back together when I feel broken. You CANNOT FIX ME.
Just hold my hand and tell me you’re there, that I’m not alone no matter how alone I feel. That I don’t have to pretend I’m better. That it’s okay to feel this bad right now because tomorrow has no script. That’s all you have to do, so don’t assign yourself more than that.
Yesterday I thought I was Fine. Today, I know I’m not. That’s okay. Being not fine is okay. If you don’t want to hang around for that, it’s okay too. I won’t blame you. It would just be nice if you did.
Goodbye Robin Williams. Rest in Peace. I’m sorry you were Fine for so long. I promise I will never be just Fine, again.