I have wanted to die exactly twice in my life. And I mean genuine death, not that lackadaisical exclamation of despair that results from having to write a 20 page research paper, where you find yourself saying "Kill me now!"
I mean the deep, cerebral yearning to no longer be. To have your heart stop pumping blood to your brain and in turn to have your brain shut down, no longer transmitting your thoughts. In these times of desperation, I had imagined such occurrences to be inviting, tantalizing even. To no longer have to put up with the bullshit that comprises 95% of my existence sounded like too good of an offer to pass up. Of course, in hindsight that number is ridiculously inflated but I couldn't tell you that in the moment.
As for the moments (which have both been described in length HERE and HERE so I'll spare you the stories), they both obviously bore similarities but the depth of my willingness to die was far greater the second time. The first time was on October 30th, 2011. It was a day where I was consumed by what I now consider to be the single most debilitating symptom of Major Depressive Disorder - overwhelming apathy. That apathy in turn gives over to despair, and from there you MUST engage in a very quick uphill climb - mentally speaking - or you will find yourself so mired in despair and hopelessness that getting out will be near impossible. This is what ensnared me the first time I wanted to die.
The second moment was met with as much levelheadedness and resolve as I could muster in though that is a highly contradictory statement. September 27th, 2012 was mostly a normal day, except that I knew it would be my last day on earth. What separated this moment from the previous attempt was that my initial go at killing myself was steeped in desperation and utter despair. I literally could not endure the pain I was feeling and I decided it would be better to die than to deal with it, thus extinguishing the need to possess such endurance.
Not so with the second attempt. I woke up that Thursday knowing I'd be dead by dusk. But it was not conjured in a manic episode nor a morass of apathy. It was calculated and precise. I knew where and when I would do it. I even planned my last meal and last recreational activity to coincide with my final wishes. Instead of feeling fear, I felt peace. Peace as such I have never known and hope I will NEVER know again because it was the most artificial and deceiving peace I had ever experienced. I had warm thoughts about dying because I saw it not as a way to suppress the pain but as a way to transcend above it, leading me to an even greater peace. I remember smiling at the prospect of such freedom.
Of course, it's disturbing now to recall that those thoughts went through my head. My mind has broken down exactly two times in my life and both times I was able to recover, though not by my own efforts. And I could never again think of ending my life, at least not in the way that would lead to the act of doing so. But that is not the reason for this post.
I am writing this because I submit to you a theory: I believe that some, if not all of us, have thought about suicide at least once in our lives.
Now bear in mind that I said SOME and not MOST of us. And you know what I mean when I say that you have thought about it; that is, contemplating the act of it or what the consequences would be if you were to ever go through with that impulse.
Before I go on, I would like to quote a passage from one of my favorite books, Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell). It describes the subject of "level-headed suicide" better than I can:
"A true suicide is a paced, disciplined certainty. People pontificate, "Suicide is selfishness." Career churchmen like Pater go a step further and call it a cowardly assault on the living. Oafs argue this specious line for varying reasons: to evade fingers of blame, to impress one's audience with one's mental fiber, to vent anger, or just because one lacks the necessary suffering to sympathize. Cowardice is nothing to do with it - suicide takes considerable courage. Japanese have the right idea. No, what's selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends, and enemies a bit of soul-searching. The only selfishness lies in ruining strangers days by forcing 'em to witness a grotesqueness." (Pgs 469-470)
I must say, this quote described my mindset perfectly my second suicide attempt. I've heard all my life that suicide is selfish, the act of a coward. And I agree with that, to this today. But what I also believed, if not for a brief period of time, was that suicide does take a courage that the majority of people are not capable of achieving. Anyone can think about it and embrace the act with a tearful resignation, but to do so with a calm demeanor and a steady hand takes something abnormal. I thought Mitchell had it right: there is no selfishness in the act, only in keeping one from going through with it if they are absolutely resolved to do so.
Now I want to issue a disclaimer. I am NOT advocating the idea of suicide or its practice. I am in no way agreeing that it is an acceptable way out or that the "courage" one needs to perform the act is an admirable thing. These are the things that my brain once believed, in moments of what can be described as pure mania. Suicide is an awful, horrible thing - and I ache for those who have lost someone in their life to the despicable deed. It is not the act of a brave person, but of a lost person.
That is what I am trying to convey. What I thought to be an escape or a euphoric solution to what I viewed as a hopeless life was nothing more than a staunch refusal on my part to realistically face my problems. I mention that some of us have pondered on the idea of suicide because despite the evils of it, some twisted part of our brains may see the enticing nature of it. But the way to deal with your problems is not to engage in an act of desperation; an act that guarantees the death of your struggles but at the same time buries the beautiful aspects of life with your body. The way to deal with your problems is to stand up wherever you are in your life and face them the same way you would face death were it staring you in the face. If I can embrace the willingness to end my life with such a collected and fearless resolution, then surely I can stand the hell up and look my sins and fears in the eye until they shrink away and become no more than distant disturbances.
Killing one's self is a final act. We don't come back from that. But we do come back from our struggles. Those are never final, and they don't get to choose whether or not we get back up. Only we can do that.
I say this to you, as a man who has tried to interrupt the flow of my life on multiple occasions: death is not your friend. Death is not a warm promise of a pain-free existence. Death is not a means to cover over your problems. It merely multiplies them, so to speak. You MUST choose to take a stance that opposes the hopelessness we so often feel. Bear in mind that many of us are living our lives with some sort of pain clawing away at our inner consciousness. Some of us are failing at dealing with it. But many of us are succeeding at it, because that is the only choice we have.
So in the words of water-dancer Syrio Forel, "when death looks us in the eye, what do we say?"
I for one believe it.
UPDATES & SUCH
It's true, I finally started reading The Hobbit. I am getting more and more excited about the movie.
Still spinning a healthy metal regime, but I am getting ready to choose my favorite albums of 2012 and the band Now, Now has put out a stellar album entitled Threads, which I frequently find myself going back to. As always, here they are in action:
Lastly, I am very excited for Tuesday night, because I get to go see As I Lay Dying. This band is also from San Diego and I've loved them for 7 years but I've never been able to see them. I finally get to this week. And of course I'm stoked for Friendsgiving, the family-lacking version of Thanksgiving. I get to make the deviled eggs! My mother would be so proud.