I think I’m finally ready to write this post. Bear with me.
Some days–not very often now, thank the gods–I feel frozen. (No, not that Disney movie.) Just…encased in a block of ice, so cold-numb it burns. Afterwards I’m always glad for habit and giri, because they carry me through. During the freeze, though, I feel almost-nothing. The temptation to physically hurt myself just so I can feel something is overwhelming.
And then, the other thoughts arrive, the way they have since I was about ten years old and realized this is hell, and I can leave if I plan it very carefully. I can just go. That was a revelation, one which gave me a desperately needed illusion of some kind of control.
Yes, I’m talking about suicide. Have I attempted it? Yes, privately, telling no-one. I’m not sure whether to feel grateful those attempts didn’t work, or embarrassed to be admitting to them now, or both.
I’ll be thirty-eight this year. I never thought I’d live this long. What ended up saving me was the Princess–the instant I knew of her existence, my life wasn’t my own anymore, and all my plans to step out of this world became null and void.
But oh, sometimes I longed to, and I suspected all the love and duty in the world might not be enough to stop me.
One of the reasons I went to therapy was the urge to just leave the planet was beginning to reach parity with my fierce desire and obligation to remain for those I love. The pain, anxiety, and panic attacks were bad enough to seep through protective numbness, and I needed help before I did something irrevocable. When I eventually caved and went on medication, both Calm Therapist and Frau Doktor were very clear that if the thoughts of offing myself grew more intense, I was to call either of them, my emergency phone tree, or 911, and keep going down the list until I found someone to talk to.
Fortunately, that particular side effect didn’t hit me. Just nausea.
I still think about it. They’re passing thoughts, usually when I’m stressed. It’s a “last best card” thing, the idea that I at least have control over that most basic of decisions–whether or not to keep breathing. Like those experiments where dogs and monkeys get better when they have some type of control over being shocked–the ones who can’t escape the random shocks just get apathetic and don’t even try to work free anymore.
Frau Doktor nodded thoughtfully when I told her about this recently. (We’re still fine-tuning my dosages.) “Very common, with trauma,” she said, carefully. “The time to be worried is if those thoughts suddenly become more intense. Any change in them–more frequent, more intense–is a cause for concern.”
It eased my worry to know those passing thoughts are natural, if not normal. It’s sobering to think about how close it was–that even my absolute devotion to those I love, those I have to survive for, those who depend on me, might not have been enough.
Why am I writing about this?
Simple. To tell you, if you’re in that position, if you’re keeping it as a last best card…don’t beat yourself up over feeling that way. That feeling, that thought, is something that happens. It doesn’t mean you’re broken, or weak, or inadequate. It probably means you’re exerting some kind of control over a hellish situation, that your brain and body are attempting desperately to cope. I’ve been there: in the numbness so huge nothing matters, in the pain so intense you’ll do anything to get out of it. In the place where calmly considering how to end your physical existence is logical and even appetizing. Believe me, I understand.
But please, please, try for help before you make any move. Call someone, anyone. (I want to add: who might not have an agenda to make it worse, because in your position, you know best about that.) If all else fails, please listen to me: you will be missed. I will miss you, even if I don’t know you. Even if we’ve never met. You are precious. You matter to me. Please, try for help. Please don’t hurt yourself.
That’s all I wanted to say.