This is an essay about suicidal plans and depression. I am doing fine now, but I felt people deserved to hear my story. If this will trigger you, please do not read.
This is something that is not talked about much, and there is such a stigma around it. I am not writing this for pity or attention. I debated on even publishing it. There have only been three times in my life where I seriously contemplated suicide. The latest was during the summer of 2019, and it was by far the most likely to be carried out. I had severely screwed up my life (and affected several others in the process) through a series of bad decisions, which incidentally occurred very shortly after the “Owning Your Truth part II” essay. The consequences of those decisions could have been much worse, so I was and still am very grateful to have support of my family and those around me since that time. They only knew the consequences. They had no idea the pain I was going through emotionally.
The pain of those decisions and the subsequent consequences really got inside my head. I lost my freedom to an extent, and for those that know me, understand how independent I am. I do not ask for help easily, and I detest relying on others. I spiraled into a deep and profound depression. There were days where I literally didn’t get off my couch, which is quite unlike me. Especially during the summer. This is what nobody talks about with suicide. It is very difficult when the place you want to escape is your own brain. When the pain is so profound and pervasive that you feel powerless to elude its steely grip. It is the constant doubt of your place in this world, and how your disappearance might be a relief to this world. Your pain and shame overtakes everything inside your soul. For me, the feeling of being a failure in many aspects of my life, and my cavernous sense of disappointment made it even worse. My sense of self was that of a parasite, and how I provided no value to anyone. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. That hurt the worse of all. I have felt what it feels like to positively impact others, and it was amazing. I had let myself become a shadow of the person I once was, and I felt like my presence had become as that of an energy vampire to those around me. It is the very last thing I want to be in my life, and I couldn’t escape the shame of that reality.
I put on a pretty decent front. I went to work, and I did my job well. I focused on surviving. I occasional write gratitude posts on my social media pages, and I strived to continued to do them. Even if the reason seemed minute. It was one of the ways I was attempting to cope with my downward spiral. Except the pain and shame was something I couldn’t seem to escape. The gremlins in my brain were working overtime, and for the first time in ten years, I couldn’t shut them down. The sense that I had fucked up my life to the point that I was irredeemable was persistent and pernicious. It started to become too much to endure, and something had to give.
I started quietly planning out my death. My methodical mind went through the methods of suicide, and the pros and cons to each one. I had never gotten that far before with my suicidal thoughts, and that’s when things started to feel real. I picked a method that would leave a small chance of survival if done correctly, and the combination of the liquor would fry the liver while ensuring I would barely register what was happening. I sent texts to many members of family and close friends saying I love you. Nothing more, nothing less than those three words. I didn’t want to set off suspicion after all. I even made a list of things to give to specific people after my passing. I have a lot of gear and possessions, and wanted to ensure they went to the right people. I have a scientific minded brain, and this is how it works. It figures out solutions to problems in a very systematic way.
In my mind, this would solve everyone’s problem. It would end the parasite-like relationship that I had perceived to be on my friends and family. It would end the doubt, shame, pain, sense of failure, unfulfilled potential, and my perpetual disappointment that seemed to be my life. When I reached the depths of my downward spiral, all I felt was shame, pain, and a deep loss of integrity in myself. I felt unworthy of love from those around me, and the love for myself had evaporated some time ago. People say suicide is the cowardly way out, but I disagree. To the mind of the person experiencing that level of internal, inescapable pain, it feels like the only way out. This is what the rationalizing of my suicide felt like. I felt like I was not only ending my suffering, but also freeing everyone else of the burden that had become my life. I was sure my family would mourn me, but my friend circle is a small one. Beyond that, I figured the affect would be minimal. Life would go on, after all. I have no family of my own, and I don’t even have a pet.
So what changed? The plan did. What I told myself was that if it didn’t work, I’d be committed to an institution and probably mentally crippled in some way from the attempt. The deeper reasons were multi-faceted. One of my friends from the Garden Elite in college was suspected to have committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. A mutual friend in that group said to me when we heard, “if he committed suicide, I’ll kill him.” That kept going through my mind the day I planned my death. The other was my family, specifically my parents. It would kill my parents. Hopefully not literally, but it would shred them when they found out. Something one of my friends said to me previously about one of her kids (they are grown and in their 30’s) friends committed suicide. She said she couldn’t imagine the guilt of that parent. I didn’t want that for my parents. They deserved better than that. They have enough to deal with.
In the past month, I have told a couple of people about my mindset over the summer. One of them said, “so what changed?” I answered, “well, once I figured out I wasn’t going to do that plan, I knew I had to come up with another one.” She said something like, “that’s it?” I shrugged and said, “that’s how my mind works. If one solution won’t work, another one must be applied to the problem”. So that’s what I did. It was a battle to choose life over death, and it’s one I almost didn’t win. Glennon Doyle writes in her book Love Warrior about focusing on the next right thing. I implemented certain changes in my life. I started a cardio routine to get myself out of the house and back in shape; went back to yoga; got out of a toxic relationship, and cut down on my drinking. I also took responsibility for my decisions, and told certain people the consequences I faced. The shame of those decisions started to subside once I started to take responsibility for them. Shame thrives in the darkness, but can’t survive the harsh light of day (thank you Brene Brown!). You may have noticed that I started substituting and/or adding shame to the word pain. That is because as I was writing this, I realized the pain I felt over the summer was mostly increased by shame. Shame is a sneaky little bastard, and is the underlying cause of much of our internal struggle. The change in my mindset hasn’t been easy, and it’s still not. It is not like I snapped my fingers, and the gremlins inside my head went away. They are still there, but their presence is muted and limited in influence. Most days my tenacity to be better is greater than the pain of shame and self-doubt. Sometimes the hardest part for me is to remind myself that I am worth loving despite the fuck-ups that have and will happen in my life. With enough right steps, I have won the arduous battle to choose creating a life instead of crafting a death. The next right thing is to continue to accept and love my beautiful, fucked up self until the gremlins are transformed into fireflies of light.