Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My (not a) suicide note

TW: Suicide discussions and depression. For more information or to find a crisis centre in your country, check out:

This isn’t a pretty story about how to survive suicidal thoughts. There is no secret revealed over the next few thousand words that will help reverse any negative thoughts you might be having. This is nothing more and nothing less than a look at my personal daily struggle and how I see the world, even though I do not wish to see it that way. More than anything, I wish I could give you a fix that allowed you to navigate the world without these negative thoughts, only I can’t even give that to myself.
By sharing these thoughts, and my mad ravings, what I can give myself, and hopefully you, is some comfort that we are not alone. If even one of the issues I mention resonates with you, you have my deepest sympathies and my heartfelt love. There is no shame in feeling bad. There is no need to feel like you don’t deserve help. Even if it feels like you are unable to request it, help is within reach. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s important to recognise that you don’t feel okay though. It is important to share your thoughts, even if it’s in a format like this.
It’s important to talk to someone, even someone anonymous at the other end of a crisis hotline. My loved ones still don’t know the full depth of my feelings, and I have believed that’s better for me because I don’t need to worry about them looking at me differently. That was the choice I made for so long and it helped me get through the day. Now, I am laying it on the line. I’m speaking my truth. I still don’t desire to be treated differently. I am okay and do what I can every day to ensure I stay that way. I’m sharing with the hope that it might help someone else, just one other person, feel less alone.
Writing down how you feel may or may not be the right choice for you. But whatever you need to do to survive another day, please do it. Because death may feel like the solution, trust me I know it might, but it’s not.
It never is.
Living is.
That is the only solution worth aiming for.
Whatever it takes.
My (not a) suicide note:
The only reason I’m still alive is because I don’t want to traumatise someone else.
It isn’t my family and friends I worry about either.
Or at least, it’s not only them.
It’s the strangers who will be impacted when they find my body. The first person who stumbles across my lifeless form. The paramedics and police who would be called onto the scene. The hospital workers who have to go home to their families and look their loved ones in the eyes after seeing the horrors of self-inflicted death. The funeral home workers who have to piece together the broken pieces before returning me to my family.
And it would have to be a stranger that found me. I couldn’t do the final act at home. To wait for my family to find me.
So where does that leave me? Relying on the kindness of strangers and the constitution of their stomachs.
Each time I think of ending my life, this is enough to stop me. The horrors it would cause to those unassuming people. The ones who woke up that morning ready to face a new day and live their lives as best they can. It is those faceless, nameless, strangers who have my gratitude.
I don’t think of my family. They are not the ones to stop me. After all, they would be better off without me. That is the fundamental truth that burns deep inside of my heart. It is the knowledge that when I am gone, they will be able to pick up the pieces that allows the thoughts to fester. They will be free to move on without the anchor I’ve become—dragging them down into the depths. My life insurance will cover any debts. My illnesses and pain will no longer be a factor determining what we can and can’t do. No more late-night trips to the hospital. No more days at home avoiding the world.
My lack of interest in life will eventually be replaced by a new wife. A new mother. Someone who plays like they are supposed to. Who is able to make the house sparkle with little effort and fewer complaints. Who cooks up a storm and smiles like the mother’s on TV.
Whether that is reality or not, it is the truth that echoes through my mind and makes my death an easy choice. The right choice. It is not that they deserve to be sad; it’s that I don’t deserve to be the one to make them happy.
I have done wrong by them, simply by being me.
It would be far kinder to them for me to end it all.
Only, I can’t.
I’m a coward. Too afraid to make that final leap. Too afraid to hurt other people while saving my family. That and I don’t want to go through the process of death. It’s messy, gross, and passes the problem on to everyone else.
The numerous methods I’ve considered have all been ruled out one by one.
Train: what about the driver? My last thoughts would be focused on the driver and not my family
Car accident: what if I didn’t die? Or if I caused an injury to someone else? How could I live with myself then?
Bridge over concrete: I can’t help but imagine the clean-up. Those poor council workers who’d have to mop up crimson stains from the road.
Bridge over water: who knows where my body might go. What if some kid finds it in weeks to come, bloated and grey, while they’re playing with their friends? That sort of thing leaves a mark on a person; a blight in their mind that allows the darkness to spread beyond me.
Gun: they’re so much harder to get a hold of in Australia. In my lucid times, I am an advocate for gun control for this very reason. If I’d have had access to a firearm in my darkest moments, I would already be gone. It is the easiest and most effective method. Then again, think of the mess.
Sleeping tablets . . .
Now this one . . . this one could work.
It seems peaceful. Easy. A few too many painkillers and I might float away on a cloud, slipping into a deep sleep and never waking again. But what if I got the dosage wrong? What if it didn’t kill me but instead destroyed my liver or kidneys. Instead of death, I might face a lifetime of debilitating pain and illness.
And so I wake each morning dreaming of the day I will die but unwilling to make that final leap.
For now.
It’s hard to be suicidal when you’re afraid of death.
When the consequences are more powerful than the motivation.
Whenever I consider how easy it would be to be out of agony. Away from the constant hum of worry that runs like an undercurrent in my mind and the pain that invades my body, I have a tiny voice that stops me. The voice that recognises the falsity in the beliefs that my family would be okay without me. That reminds me I am the only me in existence and maybe that’s worth something.
Maybe not to me, but to someone.  
The voice that tells me when I’m gone, it will be over. I do not believe in anything after this life. If there is a god, suicide is apparently a one-way ticket to the bad ending.
Perhaps in the face of the horrors of hell, life after death makes sense. My life has been a series of bad endings. Why would my afterlife be any different?
The thing is, it’s not that I actually want to be dead; I just want to not exist.
To sleep an endless, dreamless, sleep.
To not be in pain.
To not cause pain.
To not fail.
To not feel like a failure.
Success in academia came easily to me. Success in life is much harder to grab hold of. There is one reason for this. One blinding notion that I can’t escape, no matter how hard I try.
The fact is: I am an imposter.
True or not, I feel I am not responsible for a single one of my successes. Each one was achieved because the subject was easy. Or perhaps the teacher took pity on me. Life stepped up and handed me something I was undeserving of every time.
But my failures . . .
Now they were my fault.
Every. Single. One.
Every time I didn’t follow through on a promise.
Every time I cancelled plans.
Every single time I made the smallest error.
It. Was. My. Fault.
These failures are the reason I am an imposter.
I put on graduate clothes but knew in my heart I didn’t earn that mortarboard and gown. Sure, I turned up and did the work. Sometimes I even studied for the exams. But that wasn’t enough. I don’t believe I am an expert on any of the things I have learned. My utter lack of confidence tells me I am not good enough to make any of the decisions I need to make. That every day I spend at work is another day I am a fake.
A phony.
A pretender.
Even now, with years more experience and looking back on my degree—I feel like a fraud. What right do I have to claim knowledge that was so easily gained? Other people struggled. They studied. They earned their degree.
The mark of failure is a badge of honour.
One I don’t want.
One that would kill me to receive.
One that I envy.
One that I have earned in the one thing I most wanted to do.
Writing is usually easy for me. Characters dance behind my eyes, stamping their toes and shaking their heads while they wait for attention.
Syntax, prose, grammar.
These are now the language I speak.
I can tell a story with characters so real to me they are like my friends.
They have become my friends as over time I have alienated almost everyone I loved.
In their worlds—with them as my guide—I am safe. They understand me. They don’t judge me as stuck up when I sit in a corner and hide from the world rather than talking to people I don’t know.
I am God.
I am their God.
They don’t see the hard exterior and abrasive sarcasm as reasons to avoid me like so many in my real life seem to. They see the heart inside of me. Right into the person I strive to be. They talk to me and reassure me.
I am their creator.
And I failed them.
I failed them with every book launch that wasn’t a resounding success.
I failed them again with every cover that wasn’t true to the story.
With every blurb that wasn’t snappy enough.
I failed them with adverbs and filters and grammar that wasn’t strong enough to make them sparkle on the page.
Yet, they forgive me.
They forgive me, and I want to die.
They should be my legacy the same way I should be theirs.
But I failed them.
And this is why I want to be gone.
I am a wasted potential. Breathing air that someone else could use to do great things.
I do not do great things.
In high school, I asked a friend what I had done to make them hate me. They told me my biggest mistake was breathing.
I believed them then. 
Most days now, I still do.
I don’t want to die, but I don’t deserve the life I’ve been given. I’ve squandered it. Made mistakes. Hurt people—sometime even on purpose.
I’ve been selfish. Evil.
I have tried to right wrongs. To fight for what’s right. To support those who are downtrodden and hurting.
But somehow that’s not enough.
Nothing ever will be.
Not for me.
Not for the anxiety that strangles around my heart and holds blinkers to my head, denying me the view of my family and their pride. Hiding the good things in layers of pain and nerves and shattering self-consciousness.
Even this piece . . .
It’s a failure.
It was supposed to be a story I wrote for a specific purpose. It was going to be prose about a fictional person.
Set in a fictional world.
A story with a happy ending.
Or maybe a tragic one.
But a story nonetheless.
It was supposed to not be self-indulgent. Yet, all I’ve done is indulged the self. Blurted out truths that have been buried within for years.
Or have I?
How is it possible to know truth from fiction?
Is it possible to judge from the outside which version is real? Is it the smiling person who appears aloof and confident, or the crying child sobbing against the floor because she knows no matter what she does, she will never be enough.
Maybe neither is true.
Maybe they both are.
How can anyone tell?
Is it possible to know?
Everyone hides something inside. They bury secrets beneath lies, coating everything in a layer of paint that suggests they are okay.
Sometimes, they are not okay.
That’s the reality.
The face of suicidal thoughts isn’t necessarily the one who complains all the time. It’s the person who keeps those complaints inside.
It isn’t always the person who was hurt. Sometimes it’s the one who does the hurting.
Sometimes the face of suicide is a smile so wide it masks every sign that they could ever feel pain. It’s the person who says “I’m fine” whenever they’re asked how things are going.
The truth is the face of suicide could be sitting beside you and you might never know.
It could be anyone.
It could be you.
To stop suicide, people say that life is worth living. They hold up examples of love and acceptance and all the things that are good in the world.
Those examples are meaningless to someone who wants to die.
Mostly because those are the reasons they want to die.
Because they are poisonous.
In death, they believe, they will stop their poison infecting everything else.
That is the belief that the darkness fosters.
Better off.
Maybe that isn’t the truth, but it’s their truth.
It’s my truth.
People left behind blame themselves. “What could I have done to see?”
“What should I have done better?”
Sometimes, the answer is nothing.
Sometimes, it’s everything.
But often, the answer is just to listen. Not to the words that are being said, but to the silences in between. To the beat of their heart as they try to quell the beast of anxiety.
To the damage inflicted on their soul that makes an almost silent noise because they control it with death.
That’s what suicide would be for me—damage control.
A way to slay the beast before it could hurt anyone else.
And I am the beast.
With artificial happiness flooding my brain, I can see the fallacies in this logic. I can see that the life I have is better than the life of many others, and yet they can find happiness.
Knowing the reasons I should be happy isn’t always enough though.
It adds to the belief that I have wasted what was given to me.
It is not that I want a different life. More money or a bigger car. None of that would ever be enough to quell that beast of “not good enough.” Not even a few million dollars could drown out that cry.
It is possible that one day I will be able to hold hands with my anxiety. To make friends with it and use it for its intended purpose—keeping me safe from actual threats. Like a guard dog that has turned though, or the guns that are so prevalent in the world, the thing that was supposed to keep me safe has taken me prisoner. It will probably be the death of me. 
Maybe one day, I will lose my battle to anxiety and depression.
On that day, I will be called a coward.
I will be hated and blamed for taking my own life.
And it’s not fair.
No one blames a cancer patient for succumbing to the disease. They were a fighter. Bravely battling every day for their survival. That they lost their fight is a tragedy.
That I did will be a mistake.
An error in judgement.
As in life, my death would be a disappointment.
Proof that I have failed.
Perhaps that failure is the one that will save me.
Perhaps, it will be the one that condemns me.
Perhaps that the thing that scares me most of all. In a life where I’ve strived for success, I will be remembered most for my final failure.
Or maybe it’s that I won’t be remembered at all.