• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • July 29, 2018 in Columnists

    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.

    Apparently not.

    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.



      • Carolyn Wyler

      • July 29, 2018 at 11:05 am
      • Reply

      Such a great piece. I think it’s one that many can really relate too (I know I can), but they don’t actually say.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • July 30, 2018 at 12:18 am
        • Reply

        Part of why I wrote it all the conversations I’ve had with people whom you would never once guess fight this battle. It seems to me it needs to come out of the closet and get the hugs and kisses it needs to heal. <3

      • Darcy Hartley

      • July 29, 2018 at 3:33 pm
      • Reply

      I love you Maya. You got this, I know you do <3

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • July 30, 2018 at 12:18 am
        • Reply

        Awwww….thank you! If I was going to have succumbed, it would have been long ago. I am better at wrestling with it now. <3

      • Ken

      • July 29, 2018 at 10:35 pm
      • Reply

      Wow! Now I get it. We’ve had many a deep conversation about you and my deceased wife. Much of your early lives paralleled and is now in focus when you express PTSD and ADHD and rage of men born in 40’s and 50’s. The rage erupted fright.
      Maya keep up your good for you are a treasure!

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • July 30, 2018 at 12:20 am
        • Reply

        Thank you so much, dearheart. I am very determined and persistent and it’s kept me alive this long. I actually feel desperately sad for those men — they have so much inside and their innate knowledge of how to express it was harmed long ago, leaving them difficult and clueless both. <3

    • Maya-beautiful Maya. Your name means Illusion in Sanskrit. Your sad sad self-messages are illusions. You ARE love. Please please keep working to love yourself and life. I am so sorry for your suffering….and blown away by your honesty. You are so right- you NEVER know how someone else is suffering! Sometimes those who look the most together are just good at making it look that way. I care…..

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • July 30, 2018 at 9:41 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much. <3

        Lori, my sad self messages are what I've heard all my life, starting when I was barely past toddlerhood, and have in one way or another continued into the present. Grownup me knows this. Kid me -- and we still carry our inner children -- still believes them. I'm working on it and I know I wouldn't let anyone else I loved continue to believe this. It's the definition of being human -- we are a conundrum, each of us.

        I'm working on healing, but it took a long time to damage me to this degree so I figure it will take a bit of time to heal it.


    • All you say is true. Luckily we have some powerful information these days, which you are obviously aware of and working with. Solidarity and compassion.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • July 31, 2018 at 5:50 pm
        • Reply

        Working on it, but sometimes I have to just accept that I will be struggling with pain and grief for life. It would help, though, if the cruelty would just stop for a while…

      • Kolleen Morse

      • August 1, 2018 at 3:46 am
      • Reply

      Maya, I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more of your work.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 1, 2018 at 6:43 am
        • Reply

        Thank you so much!

    • The truth is painful. I will try this therapy the next time I dive deep down into the cesspool of hate, negative feelings and downright sadness.
      Unless you have PTSD – and you don’t need to be in the military to have it – you cannot fathom the pain of it. I have never Bern diagnosed with the other 2, but have been diagnosed with severe depression and have had 3 major nervous breakdowns.
      My last therapist stopped letting me see her because I called in sick too often, as this past spring was he’ll on my asthma. She diagnosed me with PTSD, something I found out I had when I was homeless and didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to live through that portion of my life.
      Thank you for your excellent writing. This piece should be on the front page of every website on the net, since people don’t read newspapers anymore.
      I wish your life was easier, but then again I wish the same for me.
      When Robin Williams committed suicide, I thought to myself, “FINALLY”. I meant that FINALLY something was going to be done for mental illness. Instead, all I heard was that he was a privileged little brat who didn’t get his way. STUPID PEOPLE! DON’T YOU GET IT? They have no idea how powerful those damned voices are. And the voices are real. I usually hear my mother, blaming me for my brother raping me. Or any other number of things I have done wrong that give the world reason to rid itself from me. God gave me talents, A LOT of them. But with them came the agonizing pain that I don’t deserve the right to breathe the same air as everyone.
      When I found out the cause of Anthony Bordain’s death was suicide, I once again rejoiced, praying that mental health would FINALLY be funded. But like yesterday’s garbage, no one gave a second thought.
      Maya, I pray that you find a therapist who will help you love you again. Because it doesn’t matter what others think.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 6, 2018 at 1:49 am
        • Reply

        Dearheart — I have a radiantly wonderful therapist. He doesn’t quite get how fragile I am because he mostly sees how strong I am as well. I’m not sure he realizes my struggle. Please remember — as I try to — that there was nothing wrong with you. It really was them. My brother told me, when I commented that I thought his cruel drawing of our parents’ attention to me was something I had imagined. He replied, “Oh no. I did it on purpose. I knew there was nothing wrong with you and also that I couldn’t survive what they did to you, so I made sure they did it only to you.” That he did. And by the time they were all done with me — there really was something wrong with me and I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever quite shake it. I’m trying, though. Huge hugs…

    • This was such a brave exploration of chronic suicidal impulses. And one of your best columns ever.
      Being aware of those impulses and thoughts… being able to hold them out in your hand and examine them like a bug… I think that is the first step to not giving in to them.
      And also, thank you for NOT giving in to them. The world is a better place with you in it.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • August 6, 2018 at 1:51 am
        • Reply

        Thank you, beloved. Know that I’ve had them for over 56 years — if they were going to get me, they would have, although I will say that this last year or so has been one of the worst I can remember for them. I can feel them to the point where I want to walk out on our busy road and just lie down, but as long as I stay in my chair, preferably with a pet snuggled up, I’ll win the fight. And thank you for believing I am a benefit to the world. I really want to be. <3

      • Terri Connett

      • August 5, 2018 at 12:51 pm
      • Reply

      Maya, sweet Maya. Thank you for sharing in a way that makes me understand what this is all about. Your words painted a painful picture of the struggle. Since I found iPinion, you have been a writing inspiration to me and, like Debra, I thank you for holding that beast at bay. The world most definitely is a better place with you here … breathing, sharing, writing, contributing; making us laugh and think and feel. Your family was wrong about you. Dare I say, dead wrong.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • August 6, 2018 at 1:55 am
      • Reply

      There are no words to convey how your words — and everybody’s who commented here — touch my heart. It’s hard to shake that sense of worthlessness that’s well over a half century old. And now, with divorce looming, I am as fragile as I’ve ever been. But it’s my trying to live, in part, that pushed me to request the separation (he’s wanting the divorce) — I would love to have my last good 20 years be happy, but after all this pain, I would settle for not thinking I deserve only death. I have an extraordinary therapist and I am damned stubborn — I cling to every scrap of good I can. Now if someone could give that orange monster Ebola — and have him spread it to his evil gang of four…

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • August 6, 2018 at 1:56 am
      • Reply

      What I try to remember, beloveds, also, is that even when I am not strong, I am NEVER weak.

      And I know how to reach for love and joy. <3

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