Notes on suicidal thoughts
“Well, how far did you get in the planning process?” said Bob, over the phone.
I’m sitting in the recliner in my living room. I’m coughing and heaving in between sobs.
“Oh, not very far, really.” I finally said, regaining my composure, and sort of laughing maniacally.
He seemed surprised. I don’t know about which part, though. The fact that it was the first real time I had contemplated taking my own life, or the fact that as much of a logistical planner I am, I hadn’t started a Google Excel Spreadsheet to track and share the process.
I mean, really. Growing up gay (and really, a little trans) in the Southside Bible Belt of Virginia, a daughter of divorced parents, one who died when I was 11, with an alcoholic (and suicidal) sister who started her own shenanigans when I was eight… Call me a late depression bloomer, I guess.
I do tend, though, to walk through life more than a little Pollyannaish. I pray. I am always thinking of the best case scenario. When things go awry, there is a Greater Good. A Reason. Even with a Cold Dark Heart, I can talk myself out of the depths. I can look around and be grateful for my wife. Our daughter. My job, the roof over my head, the hot coffee in my cup.
My particular thought, though, had nothing to do with sadness. Or being ungrateful or oh-woe-is-me or hopeless. It was about control.
I could rationalize suicide because it was, that morning, the one thing I could control. My life. My breath, my steps, my words, my hands. Done with being on the other end of the “bad news” phone calls and emails, it made sense. It sounded nice. It sounded freeing. It sounded less like a bad idea, and more like a good one.
In a series of months, years… I have been walking through life waiting for the bad news. It always comes. It’s never late or apologetic. It comes when I’m having a great day or when I’m having a shitty day. It doesn’t care.
It seemed like a good idea.
Put an end to the bad news. To the cancer. To the strokes and broken hearts and disappointments. To the emails, voicemails, phone calls, obligations, demands. To the noise.
Nothing snapped me out of it. It came in like a wave and washed over me and left me just as I was before, but covered in a bit of sand and a little dizzy. It hasn’t happened since, and after looking it in the face and talking about it, I’ve scared it off.
I’m taking more anti-depressants. They’re helping, but sometimes make me feel a little bit flat. Like the sober person among the drunkards. Like watching the jolly conversations, and participating, but still feeling a little empty. Like my mouth is a phantom limb.
And bad news is coming, though. It’s always coming. When I see Moses limp when he hops off of the couch. Or Steve’s scar when I hug him.
For me, depression is not sadness. It’s anger, maybe, but not sadness. I’m not throwing a pity party for one. It’s a catalyst to find my resilience again. My emotional endurance. My patience. It is all certainly a work in progress, that’s for sure.