Trigger warning: suicide.
A little while ago, I was having a rough night and I reached out through Instagram. I posted a normal photo of myself with the caption “this is what suicidal looks like” and a small explanation that suicidal doesn’t always give the grave tells that people look for – that suicidal isn’t just black circles under ones’ eyes or a glum, drawn face – it can be a girl smiling, big as could be, on a sunny summer afternoon by the pool. I took it down the minute I got a private message that said “what reason do YOU have to be suicidal? You have a man, are about to graduate from school, go to Disney World all the time, etc” – a laundry list of true and wonderful things that don’t really have any relevancy at all as to why I would be suicidal, but I decided that person was right about my life, like I most often do. I felt ashamed for being ungrateful, and I deleted the photo.
People don’t like to talk to you about what it means to be suicidal, I’ve learned. Their discomfort or bias causes them to be thoughtless, sometimes cruel, pushy – incapable of hearing what you are struggling to say. It isn’t easy to admit that you feel so powerless and out of control or out of place in your own life that you want to remove yourself from it. And because I’ve tried to be open with my feelings, they (you know, thanks to all the surveys and studies) deduce that those that are REALLY going to do it don’t talk about it, so no one takes me seriously when I say that I’m so tired and lost that all I want is to just disappear, and that every day, I get closer to finding the courage to not be sorry to leave it all behind. I’ve been warning my family and friends since I was a teenager that I have always known my life would likely end in suicide, and I always get the same response: “Oh, hush!” “Don’t talk like that!” “What, do I need to just take you to the mental hospital now?” – or I’m reminded to count my blessings and look around at the people that have it worse than me.
Trust me – I know there are people that have it worse than me. And I know that my problems seem really trivial at times – a lot of times, they are, and when I’m able to find a rational moment, I can see that and can acknowledge that. But I can’t help my brain chemistry. I am on a constant slip and slide of mania that I cannot get off of. I can’t help the storm that hovers in the cap of my skull, tight and loud, constantly fogging up any attempt at a good day or a modicum of progress. I would give the world if I could make anyone understand, to see or feel what I do, just for a moment. What it feels like to constantly feel unwanted, disliked, and not good enough – and what that does to you inside. What kind of person that makes you.
I wish I had better words for it, for my mental illnesses, for my suicidal tendencies, for all of it – something more eloquent or a better explanation, but I don’t, not really. And it isn’t that I want to die per se. I mean, I don’t think that I do. I just don’t want to be here anymore – I just want to be gone. If there was an alternative that meant staying forever in my quiet bedroom alone with the fan blowing cool against my tired, wet eyes while I took even, deep breaths for all eternity, I would choose it. But there isn’t. There is life, and there is death. I want one more than the other.
I know that I have a really wonderful life with a lot of blessings in it, and no matter what happens to me, I want the people that I love to know that I do understand that I have appreciated them as best as I can, no matter how powerfully skewed things have seemed to me at times. It is just the filter of distortion that I have in my mind that doesn’t allow me to see the good most of the time. I carry so much blame, shame, self-loathing, anxiety, and fear at all times that I am stooped over, a hunchback, the world on my shoulders. And I admit, every day I wonder if today will finally be the day that I stand up straight, let it all fall down, and take my leave.
This is what suicidal looks like. Like me, who, yes, does go to Disney World a couple times a year, who has a boyfriend, who graduated from college, who can blend eyeshadow decently. The two people and their emotions can coincide. In fact, you can be at the highest peak of a roller coaster at Disney and calmly look over the side and think “Wouldn’t it just be a shame if I fell out?” and settle back into your seat with disappointment when the ride whooshes you safely down the track, back to start.