For as long as I can remember, I?ve struggled with depression. I wish I could tell you what caused it. I?ve racked my brain with theories for years. Maybe because I was bullied in grade school? Bad luck with girls? Bad luck with friendships? Feeling unfulfilled with my life station? Social isolation? Strained relationship with my dad? I really wish I knew where it started.
That?s the scariest part about depression. There is no single cause. No one moment you can point to and say ?this is where it all went wrong?. Depression is something that is hard wired into its chosen afflicted. There are things that can bring it out and there are things we can do to bury it down. We?re never truly rid of depression, much as we?d like to think that we can defeat it with one knockout punch, the reality is that life never affords us such easy avenues. It?s a constant struggle and it?s every day. Lying to yourself that it?s gone because you did one thing is casting wool over your eyes long enough until the next failed relationship or emotional collapse. Depression is your enemy and companion. You can?t destroy it so you must be prepared for it to always be there.
Sometimes depression can become too much. The human psyche is built to carry weight. We can train ourselves to overcome and continue on as life piles more on, but everybody has a breaking point. This isn?t something to be ashamed of. It is not your fault, you are human. Our society has made it acceptable to shame those who break down and want to quit. People will say the suicidal are weak-willed cowards who are not trying.
Because life is working for them, it?s unacceptable to hear that it isn?t for someone else. They try and impress to the suicidal person how life is great, often trying to project their own personal views about why everything is okay. The first thing someone usually tells a suicidal person is something to dismiss how they?re feeling. Here?s the thing: someone could want to die over the most inconsequential thing, but that doesn?t change how they?ve valued the situation. This discrepancy in the emotional values is what leads to miscommunication that can isolate a person further.
Speaking from personal experience, wanting to die can become the most liberating feeling. The allure that there?s a way to make the pain go away becomes addicting. If you feel like you have no purpose, wanting to die can give you a new sense of purpose. Much like any other quick fix to depression, this newfound sense is an illusion. For some, the planning can take long enough to where gravity crashes back in and they realize their fantasy of a hero?s death dissipates. What they?re left with is the horrible realization that everything they were that led them to this point is all they ever will be in death and eternity. The feeling that there is no way out, in life or death, will encompass your being and you?re left with panic. What is the point of dying if death itself can?t give your life meaning?
Suicide is an act of ego. It is the idea that we can take back agency within our life, that we?re really not powerless. That?s what people don?t understand about suicide. It is about empowerment. For one last second, you control the entire world as you choose to leave it. It is an intoxicating proposition. Alas, like all fantastic propositions, it is an illusion. Like the age old question ?if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?? If the idea that you control the entire world as you die is only true in your own mind and nowhere else in the world, did you ever really have control?
A year ago, I wanted to die. I wanted to die so badly. Every second I spent planning was one second that I could take my mind off the pain I was feeling. I was addicted to hating myself. Everyone in my life, friends and family alike, desperately tried their best to keep me from myself. It was exhausting for them. I had a duffel bag and a wad of money stashed in my closet in case I thought things got to be too much. The plan was to go somewhere deep in the forests of New England and disappear forever. My planning went on and on for weeks and months. I eventually wrote a note when I thought ?the plan? was going to be set in motion. My plan was to release the note after I had already become a missing persons report so that everyone I left behind would have a sense of closure. I?m posting the note in its entirety now because its a snapshot into my mind in a time where I was determined to die. It?s important to recognize that depression and suicide is about anger as much as it is about sadness. I?m posting the note for the sake of perspective, not to glorify or justify the act of suicide.
Clarion Call For The End
I never understood the point of a suicide note. What could a person say in one document that surmises their lives and the circumstances that have led them to their untimely end? I think part of it is a desperate and vain effort to put a punctuation on the end. As if to say, ?don?t let my death be your final memory, let these words be it.? It?s ironic that while suicide is all about control, namely the way we die and when, all the suicidal do on their way out is apologize for their decision, hoping to justify it to their loved ones. The suicide note is never a poignant take on life and death. Instead it?s a parade of apologies and pitiable reasoning for why the person has arrived at this point. Much in the way Alexander wept for there being no more worlds left to conquer, the suicidal weep for having no words left to explain their predicament. So why a suicide note? Because it is desperate and vain. Suicide is desperate and vain. That is why.
When we arrive at the point that we do not wish to live anymore, it is an odd feeling. All of the grief, pain, and discord that carried us to the precipice seem to wash away. Nothing really matters. Once again, the irony of suicide rears its head. By deciding to kill yourself, the reasons for wanting to end it all cease to be bothersome. ?Wanting to die is a reason to live? is a line from an old favorite song and until this moment it has never been more appropriate. The rub, of course, is that continuing to live will always produce new problems, new issues, and more weight to burden the psyche. It never ends. The pains of life never end until death begins.
Getting a choice about when we go matters. It does. Why continue to suffer? Moreover, what if you?re too sick to continue? When a dog is sick, when they?ve attacked everyone close to it and made it clear that there is no fixing what they have, we put it down. It is a humane tragedy. We weep for the dog but take solace in the fact that it is no longer suffering. The same can be said for people. We too can become sick beyond fixing, physically and mentally. It is a fact of life. It is people?s arrogance for believing they can fix those beyond repair that is the problem, not a person?s perceived arrogance for ending it on their own accord.
We wake up every day and look in the mirror to see a face we despise answering to a mind that will never be at peace. Is that a life worth living? We don?t realize that we become a mass of droning flesh. We?re killing ourselves slowly. The person who puts the gun in their mouth is a better person than you for admitting yesterday what you will eventually admit in thirty years. Life isn?t worth living. There is no grand victory to be had nor is there a measure of a life well-lived.
Only in death do we discover our true measure. Did we live enough to be worthy of remembrance?
People are symbiotic creatures. We exist to take from one and other. That is the nature of human interaction. You have something I want and you want something from me. The ebb and flow of human commerce. They don?t want to hear about your problems. If they feign listening to your problems long enough to give you dollar store advice today, it is because they know there?s a tomorrow to be had from you. We don?t keep stars from falling because it means the sky will be emptier without them. We do it because we know there?s still shine to be had from them in the future. We are taught to look for tomorrow?s payoffs today. When that promise disappears, so do the friends. As our will fades, so does our circle. The wolf pack will leave you for dead. We?re all animals. Every last one of us. Civility is just a word.
We are all naturally selfish. This makes the irony of people admonishing the suicidal that much more farcical. How dare you criticize someone for being big enough at the end to become our own true nature?
This is a suicide note. This is what a suicide note should be. It is not begging for forgiveness. It is not a futile closing argument with my loved ones for understanding why I chose to leave early. It is a pronouncement. I am selfish for making this choice. I thought only of myself. Rather than fight the insurmountable odds of the problems that I had created for myself, I chose to end it all than continue to reside daily in a throbbing emotional cavity.
My life is my own. My death is my own. Most important of all, the terms of both were my own.
If there?s a heaven, I?m not in it.
You?re probably wondering: ?okay, so what happened because you?re still here?. I wrote the note on February 12th 2016. I sat on it for a month and a half. At the end of March, I tried to drink myself to death and failed. I spent three more months torturing myself while I lived in New York trying to feel better. I thought a change of scenery could fix it. I thought being around new people could help. I was wrong. On July 5th 2016, I tried to jump off the roof of my building. As I got one foot off the ledge, I fainted and fell backwards. I woke up ten minutes later on the roof still alive. I took it as a sign that it wasn?t my time to go yet. There was literally a 50/50 chance of which way I fell and the universe decided to push me backwards. I made a promise right then to forgive myself for everything that had led me to that precipice.
You have to forgive yourself. If you lose your job or your relationship ends or whatever misfortune life befalls upon you, you have to learn to forgive yourself afterward. You have to accept that you?re not perfect and that it is okay to mess up. The best feeling about wanting to commit suicide is knowing that you are no longer beholden to the judgments of people. When you stop caring about what other people think, the most beautiful thing happens: you start living your life for yourself and no one else. It isn?t exclusive to being suicidal though. You can carry yourself like that without the wanton self-deprecation and self-destructive behavior.
The secret to turning my life around were in my suicide note all along. ?My life is my own? the terms are my own?. The thing is that my life was always my own, suicidal or not. I never stopped having power or a choice. I just let my depression convince me I didn?t. As soon as I used that agency to improve my life as opposed to plotting to buy sodium thiopental from Mexico, I found that things did get better.
Last but not least: there are always people out there you can talk to. Do not ever allow your depression to fool you into believing that you are alone in this. There are people who have been where you are and want to help. Depression is a gang comprised of your fears, paranoia, and insecurities. Together they will deceive you into turning on everyone and everything to strand you on a mental island. You have to overcome this deception (the most difficult hurdle) and know that help is sometimes only a phone call away.
As for the people being contacted by someone who is struggling, when that happens, please remember that everything you are hearing is valid. It doesn?t mean you should placate someone who is in fact being unreasonable, but it does mean to have a conversation with them about why it is unreasonable. Don?t ever flatly dismiss someone?s feelings. It takes a lot to reach out and if that person reaches out to you, even if you think it is just for attention, they still care enough about what you think to seek your attention and validation in the first place meaning you have the power to use your voice to help them. Please don?t ever forget that.