I would commit suicide, but I don’t want to die
“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
Tiffanie DeBartolo, How to Kill a Rock Star
Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.
I would commit suicide, but I don’t want to die.
Sometimes I am not suicidal and usually that’s when I have tried to write about it. Every time I try, I have failed. Only when the urge is on me, can I tell this story.
Today I am standing on the figurative edge of the hypothetical cliff, yearning for the oblivion that would greet me at the bottom.
Problem is, I truly do not want to die. It is a conundrum.
It doesn’t take much to tip me into this state. It has a solid foundation of such long standing. The first time I thought the world would be a better place if I was dead was when I was six years old. It had been clearly demonstrated by all around me that I was the worst kid ever born — and I do mean ever — so sparing my parents, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, all the neighborhood kids and their parents would have been the right thing to do. Even at that age, I knew any misplaced grief they had would fade into the past.
The pattern is always the same. I screw up. Or the world does something to harm me — again. Or whatever. It’s something bad. The savage self-talk begins. The gentlest version sounds like this: “You were born worthless. You know that and what just happened proves it. Your own mother didn’t even want you. Nobody did. Once your parents adopted you, they soon realized it was a mistake. You know the world would be a better place if you were gone and nobody would miss you.”
On a really bad day, it gets far more specific, listing every person and how their lives would improve if only I was dead. And hey, I’d be dead. It wouldn’t matter a bit anymore.
And the pain would finally, finally stop.
Except it would only stop for me.
I know that.
I actually had years and years of a break from all this. It wasn’t that life was perfect. Hardly. I was living in the most gawdawful house imaginable — came with the husband — had a decent marriage (even though he left me to travel half the year for the last 14 years) and great kids. Mind you, I was bullied constantly and unmercifully for most of my 32 year state career (after all, if you torture quirky people, they quickly adapt to become just like everybody else, right?), but oddly, the fact I’d been bullied viciously since age four did give me the strength to endure it (first kids, then debt, then a pension kept me from leaving). This push toward suicide did swoop in and give me a hard punch to the heart now and then, but it wasn’t constant.
Then I had the gastric bypass. Then I had my big belly removed. Then my marriage began to dissolve. I had honestly thought being smaller would make him want me more.
Much like the frog in boiling water, I didn’t immediately realize how bad it was getting. It wouldn’t be fair to give too much detail, but I will tell you that many men born in the 1940s and 50s, when they aren’t feeling well or are stressed, express their pain, fear, sadness and uncertainty in the form of anger and even rage. And in fairness, there is much good in the man and when we’re not trying to be married, I still really like much about him, plus we share children and grandchildren. We won’t be enemies. I simply will not allow it.
But the severe, chronic, combat-level PTSD (diagnosed) added to the autism spectrum (it’s a spectrum, y’all — you won’t know unless I tell you or you watch me closely for long enough) and ADHD do not react well to explosive rage, even if there never was any physical danger. The rages, which actually were there from the start, became several times a day occurrences. Imagine having PTSD at that level only to be triggered over and over and over — for more than a year.
I realized how bad it had become when the savage self talk began. I started to be afraid when that talk turned to ending it.
That’s when I overcame my enormous and experience-based terror of therapists (long story) and sought help — and it is helping.
I just wish the suicidal impulses would just shut the fuck UP.
I’m so tired. It takes so much strength, when the leaden blanket of despair settles on me, pressing me down until I’m crushed and weeping, to stand up again. To push that dread blanket up and off of me. But it has a life of its own. It comes back.
I try not to hate myself for this, but that, too, is a struggle.
I am known for my transparency. I figure there’s little about me not previously done by others and often with considerably more style. So I talk about pretty much everything, including this. What has surprised and saddened me is how many other people fight this battle as well. Ordinary people like me. People who smile and laugh and look perfectly functional but struggle with agony so enormous that terminal cancer would perhaps be the only equivalent pain. I can truly say that most people struggle with burdens we cannot even imagine. This is why it’s so important to deal with each other gently. We really do not have any idea of one another’s internal landscapes. It could be a pristine forest. It could be the seventh level of Hell. Or a combination. We simply cannot know unless they share it with us.
The trick for me, though, is to learn to deal just as gently with myself. Because I really do not want to die.