Three months ago I tried killing myself. I wish there were a more ambiguous way to phrase this to myself or anybody else, but there isn’t. No euphemism can be umbrella enough to shield me from the onslaught of my own mental monsoon.I tried to end my life because I was tired. That is what I kept repeating like a glossolalia even when I was saved - I am tired, let me go. I am tired. That is what I believed in that feral trance - I was moving elsewhere, to another beginning. It wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction or sudden, backfired tangent of psychosis - it was just a curtain pull on a long and spiritually exhausting 20 some years of being dealt the most inexplicably arcane cards by whichever hand that served as ventriloquist to my fate. Fate was always an absurd spiel in my eyes. I am a social scientist, my cognition is designed to rescind the colloquial joo joo of destiny et al, but here I was thoroughly defeated in the throes of the wheel of fortune that was treating me like a prisoner decreed to some form of medieval torture. So, I decided to lavish enough violence on myself and silence the metronome wheezing inside my ribcage.
No, it wasn’t sudden, it wasn’t without a considerable battle with myself, angling for every resource available to prevent this self-destruction; my own le diable a quatre. In due course I realised that there are a lot of reservoirs available to balm this famine, this complete starvation of the soul and each person, each helpline did its best to harbour my broken ship but it was almost that everything someone said about the positivity of life, I felt more and more determined to end my own. It didn’t help to remind me that my mother would be devastated at seeing my dead body or that I had so much potential to be a tour de force. It came to a point where the more I was informed of my great innate ability for survival, the more I wanted to avoid the person who said it. No one understood that I wasn’t capable of assessing my worth in the infinite realm of a future me when the present, current me could not stop staring at every fan solely with the intention of calculating if it could heft my body weight. Everyone said, you will get better tomorrow. No one said,you are enough today.
Social consciousness has secured the bidding of suicide as morally criminal but unfortunately those who proselytize don’t know that at the moment of contemplating a blade to the wrist or wetting yout throat for a vial of multi-colored pilled, no one is capable of principled decision-making. Much as I loathe to reference DFW in a post about suicide, the starkest reasoning for it is in fact by him -
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
Depression has been my most faithful bedmate for as long as I can remember. We are the commonest of trigger warnings, says a friend and group therapy companion. The first time I read this paragraph, I felt like someone has slowly entered a knife through my jugular - all that was unspoken inside of me was bleeding from a thick, blackish red mouth of the wound. I have felt like a walking wound since I was a child. Most of my childhood was a heavy-accented slur. I have a thinly veiled recollection of abuse; sometimes there are auditory hallucinations, sometimes my spine is a scroll of cold shivers imagining the dogged, cutthroat hand emerging from the dark like an optical illusion. Somehow I have survived my childhood and this in turn makes me distrust the ideal of survival because I am covered in the scars of survival. It depends on what you see when you look at a scar - a place where the harm ended itself or a place where the healing began. But either ways, you are still standing in the shadow of hurt, and sometimes I don’t want to be healed, I want to be undone of the hurt. You would understand the difference if you lived with the same guilt as I do towards my own body.
When I was a child, I desperately wanted to get cancer. As revolting as it sounds, I had watched a girl in my class get leukemia and she was moved to an oncology specialising hospital. Her father would always be by her side when we visited her and I somehow deduced that if I too suffered from something life-threatening, maybe my father would come and take me away from the homemade hell that was running through me. I didn’t get cancer, the classmate eventually died & my father never really came for me. But I somehow latched onto the eager hands of a deathwish that seemed more accepting of me than any adult around me.
When I self harm/ed, I graduated very quickly from razors to my own fists. Cutting wasn’t painful enough so I proceeded to choking. I would hit myself till I was unconscious and it was surprising how so little of it registered with anyone around me. Or maybe they knew but decided not to understand it. If the ostrich buries its head in the sand and you know the drill. I don’t think anyone can damage us quite the way we can do it to ourselves. God may or may not have been created in our image but violence is - it sits down for breakfast with us, it comes to the movies with us, it rocks our chair to sleep, and finally it handed me my nylon rope.
Every time I made a more institutionalized attempt to fix this scale of alienation, I felt more abandoned. The most debilitating part comes after you survive because everything in suicide help is poised for prevention but hardly for post-survival. So you weathered the earthquake, but what do you do with a decade worth of after-shocks? No one can spell that out with a trustworthy clarity.
I don’t speak for a tribe, nor do I particularly enjoy transforming myself into the foghorn of any mouthpiece so I want to stray from the compulsive nomenclature, the cloaking, the closeting of an illness that is always in sharp disagreement with my life impulses. I can label it mental difference, I can typecast it as neurodivergence but none of it can effectively help my desire to drown myself in a dingy bathtub while everyone outside the room is celebrating my new book or my new degree. I don’t know what words should I spool so they cal thread themselves into each other to form a net wide enough to catch the blind trapeze artist my mind transforms into during these hours.
One of the hardest things is to travel back in time and suddenly encounter a moment of realisation where some grave violation of my sense of self occurred and I was so convinced of my worthlessness, I became complicit in that act of assault towards me. At 20 a boyfriend tried to rape me and I had no memory of this till a recent therapy session. Maybe because I am conditioned to think of rape as a very evident scream, a sort of “obvious” violence whereas the incident was far more slyly controlled, insidious as its composed mastermind. I also admitted to myself that I almost convinced myself that I was deserving of this aggression because for so long my depression had emptied me into an effigy to the extent that I stopped viewing myself as a human being anymore.
That is how raw it gets. It digs its teeth into your eyes and you can’t see who you are anymore. There is nothing uplifting I can end this with except to say that - Is there a way to find what comes after survival? How do you survive survival? Is there a way to tell us not about what it will be but what it is now? People want to help and it is a sharp paradox, a road to hell is paved with good intentions. I know they meant well when they said - “hey I too feel sad sometimes” and all I wanted to say was - I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything. Don’t you see that is the reason I want to end?
But all I can say now is - persevere, self. There is a beautiful somewhere. You are just about reaching.