Contains details of suicide
In January of this year, I found myself standing at the top of a set of steps in the kitchen of my home, my neck in the loop of a long climbing sling secured to an oak beam above my head. I paused on those steps. I knew with absolute clarity the severity of what I was intending to do. I knew that I was a single step away from death.
I repeated a mantra to myself, “Do it! You can do this! Just get it over with!”
I recall the tears in my eyes and on my face. I recall the absolute desperation and the pain within me in those moments. I was hopelessly lost and desperately torn. On the one hand I simply wanted the emotional pain I was suffering to go away, and I knew with certainty my death would bring about that comfort for me.
On the other hand, I wanted to live; despite the months, possibly years, of heartache and inner turmoil that stretched out ahead of me. This was the only life I would ever get to live, so why shorten it? Why not accept the pain as well as the joy? Why run?
Shortly before I placed my neck in that noose, I had warned myself “this is serious, you do know that?” but yet there I was, hoping for the strength to carry it through and goading myself at the lack of fortitude I was displaying in pausing for thought.
In a moment of pure Hollywood drama, I was thrown a lifeline when the screen of my phone burst into life, illuminating the darkened room I was standing in. A friend was calling me, texting me, messaging me in a frantic attempt to be there for me, having missed my last ditch call for help 20 minutes before. It was enough to break the self-fulfilling loop I was entangled in. I stepped down, grabbed my phone, and raced upstairs to bed and to two Diazepam to see me through the night.
Would I have carried out the suicide had I not received that call? I’ll never know. Life is a single, linear track, we’re not afforded the luxury of witnessing any parallel lives that may have played out had we opted for different choices at specific junctures. We live with the decisions we make in the moment; or rather, in the case of suicide, we don’t.
On January 5th 2017, I made a choice. I chose to live.
The past few months have been every bit as horrible and traumatic as I had anticipated they would be. There have been days when I have told myself I wish I had gone through with it. I know I have some way to go before I emerge from this darkness, and perhaps I never will.
But I am here. And I am alive.
I get to make further choices and decisions and experience how they play out; for better and for worse. That’s no small thing. As an option, suicide is final. It’s a hand you only get to play once, and it trumps all others, in perpetuity.
I considered suicide because I wanted all the emotional hurt, the anguish, the uncertainty I was feeling and facing to just end. I didn’t want to awake another day. I had convinced myself that suicide would put a stop to all the suffering and bring about a final, peaceful conclusion.
But the past few months have made me realise how wrong I would have been. Suicide wouldn’t have brought an end to “the pain”, it would have only transferred it to someone else; my brothers, my parents, my friends. “My” pain would then become “their” pain. What a baton to pass on in the relay race of life. What a legacy!
The therapy and help that I have received since the crisis has enabled me to see with a sense of clarity and perspective I was incapable of that January. The sense of utter worthlessness, the feeling of being an intolerable burden, the crushing weigh of feeling alone and lonely in this world. They’ve all melted into the background; still there, just not as vocal, and not as all-consuming.
And here I am today. It’s been an okay day; some pain, some anger, some ambivalence, but some joy too. Slowly, day by day, the pain seeps away harmlessly with only the occasional harsh word or irritated glare to show for it. My goal is to try to dispose of my pain in small, imperceptible amounts; scattered here and there, where it barely makes a different and gathers little or no attention.
Suicidal thoughts will always be a part of my life. I developed them as a child and nurtured them throughout my adult life. A lifetime of bad thinking habits can’t be undone so easily, and there is a comfort in them. They offer me the illusion of control when I am at my most out of control. I’m not sure I would want to banish them, even if I could. They’re a part of me; they make me, me.
So rather than declare all-out war on them, I’ve decided to acknowledge them and allow them a place to reside; like some belligerent, pugnacious tenant who’s renting a room on the top floor and ready to start shouting when life’s uncertainties come knocking.
I just need to be vigilant now and deal with issues before they escalate and wake up my house guest. That’s not going to be easy, but then, life never is.