“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die”
Today I want to talk about suicide. I have spoken out a bit on Facebook about my suicide attempts, but I want to explain how and why people get to a point in their lives where they feel they cannot possibly go on.
One of the things I hate most about the stigma surrounding Depression and consequently suicidal ideation is when people take the moral high ground. I do not mean this is a sick or twisted way. What I mean is the fact some people automatically deem it as selfish. They say things like ‘How could they hurt their friends like that?’. ‘Why did they not care about the people they left behind?’.
These people never stop and think about how much pain a person must have been through to get to that stage in their lives. No-one ever stops to consider what the moments before a self inflicted and potentially lethal action are like. Speaking from experience, I can assure you I did not take those pills on a whim and I certainly did not cut my wrists for a laugh. I did not forget about the few people who would have been directly affected by my death. I did not underestimate the hurt I would cause.
So then, naturally, I guess it begs the question why? Why would you choose such a final action, particularly when you are so aware of the hurt you would cause? I cannot answer this question universally (because I could not possibly be naive enough to suggest that everyone’s experiences of severe Depression and subsequent suicidal thinking are the same) but I can attempt to explain how – in the mind of a sick young adult – one can justify such a decision.
Firstly I guess, like anything in life, you have to weigh things up. When you are at rock bottom and feel that nothing will ever get better. As if nothing no-one says or does will EVER make a difference to your life, to how you feel. When you cannot see a future for yourself and the black cloud descends, you create a picture in your head of how the world would look without you. You see the few people in your life that would be affected by your death – mourning you in the short term but you convince yourself that they’ll get over it. That they will soon realise that their lives will be improved without you. You tell yourself that they’ll be ok and that everything will eventually be ‘fixed’ without you there to ruin it. It is incredible how rational you can convince yourself you are being during the run up to perhaps the most irrational decision of your life. Secondly, and I think that this in particular was true for me, people underestimate the lack of self worth people who are suicidal tend to have. They do not see themselves as ‘lovable’, as ‘popular’, as ‘valued’. We feel worthless, a waste of space and most of us are so sick of ourselves we struggle to see how anyone can stand to be with us when we cannot even stand to be with ourselves.
Still not convinced? I ask you to read this. And then tell me that you still cannot possibly understand.
Imagine a life with no pleasure, no happiness, no light. Nothing good. Everything is bad (or it seems like that). There is no joy. There are no good days and bad days. There are just bad days – and even worse days. Imagine a healthy persons sadness. Multiply that by 1000 then throw in anger, anxiety, guilt and every other negative emotion under the sun. Welcome to the world of Depression. It is a very bleak world. People do not understand why you are so negative. But that is not unusual. People rarely understand you. You see you are unlikable and the majority of people hate you. But you feel like you are a bad person and that you deserve the pain anyway. Besides, you cannot hurt anyone if you are alone. The way you feel affects the few friendships you have left – they try hard but you push them away. You convince yourself that they either feel sorry for you or they feel like they should make an effort. You like them but you are fed up of repeatedly hurting them so you keep your distance. You try and protect them.
Imagine feeling alone even when there are people around you. Imagine spending days in bed because you feel too ugly, too disgusting to be allowed out. Your life consists of appointments, medication and monitoring. Every few days you sit in front of a different professional who half listens while taking notes, nodding their heads and occasionally muttering a few ambiguous comments about what you should try and do. They may even say a few reassuring words, maybe they make some sense and you see a glimmer of hope but then you leave and you realise that they get to go home at the end of the day to their ‘normal’ lives. They don’t think about you. They care because it is their JOB to care. But it is their job to care for those 50 minutes when they must talk to you. After that you become another patient. Another file. Another name. You leave the building and suddenly you are back in this big terrifying world and you are on your own again – who are you kidding you are always on your own. You walk down the street and feel disconnect from every single person that walks past. It is like you are in a bubble or watching a film in slow motion. They are not part of your world. They are in this ‘promised land’. The place everyone keeps promising you exists if you ‘keep fighting’, ‘keep being brave’, ‘keep holding on’. You get the bus and watch everyone wondering what their life is like. You see people your age laughing, smiling, joking and you wonder why that can’t be you. Maybe you spend your evening getting drunk with people you barely know. Maybe you spend them drinking on your own attempting to inject some happiness into your tired soul. Maybe you sleep around simply trying to feel love. To feel good. Maybe you cut yourself in a desperate attempt to feel SOMETHING other than this black, numb pain or to perhaps to distract yourself from the emotional scars that lie embedded even deeper in you than the train-tracks lining your body.
That night you go to bed. God knows what time it is. Days feel like months. Weeks feel like years. You’re exhausted. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. You wish you were happy. You wish you were better. But you have felt this way for so long you don’t even know what better is. People try and help but no-one knows what living like this is like. You toss and turn desperate to fall asleep because you want to be able to function as a human being when you wake up. It’d be nice to feel alive. You think about taking pills to either end everything or to just knock you out for a while so you don’t have to think. Its 3am and you scroll through the numbers on your phone of people you have been told to call whatever the time, it is for moments just like this. But all you see is names. All you see is people who do not deserve to be bothered by you. None of them deserve this to be put on them. These are good people. Happily sleeping. In any case what can they do? Nothing can save you now. You are past saving. It’s your own fault anyway. People say you are brave. You are sick of being brave. You don’t want to have to be brave. You want to be ok. But that’s not going to happen. No-ones ever asked you what you want. You try to think back to a time where everything was ok. But all you can see is black. You think ahead desperate to see some light at the end of this long tunnel. But nothing is there. It is black too. And you are blind.
Tell me now that you don’t understand why people give up. And tell me now that suicide is selfish.