I need to be able to “go there” and come back like I used to. You know, the “there” that I mean?
The dark. The edge. The swirl. The “there” that is safe. The “there” that is a few paces back from near-no-return or for some the no-return. From “there” oblivion can be seen, but only to look.
I only want to look to remember.
The oblivion one escapes to in sleep, drink, drugs, those moments before someone dials 911. The oblivion of the first moment after sex, the place you fight to stay when waking from anesthesia, maybe the oblivion before you come back to screaming and bright lights and cold and your body being tossed about and invaded by hands and instruments.
Only this time, I want to make the trip alone. I want to get used to the trips again like when I was a child. I was less fearful then. No adult co-dependency, no girlie holding on or out for a rescue, no dreaming that my parent will come ’round, no credit cards, and no drama anywhere except on my own bed or a therapist’s office. I want to learn to keep myself alive by myself.
I have this idea that to a lot of people out there, staying alive is a given. Not really even thought about except on icy roads, in the face of a major illness, or when concerned about crime. For me, and about 41,000 people as of the last statics I looked up; finding ways to stay alive is an ongoing battle.
I not only want to stay alive, I want to be vertical 8 hours a day, never be mistreated again, and spend healing time with my son for the both of us. I got plans.
One of my biggest challenges is loneliness. I spend 66% or more of my time alone. I often go 48-72 hours without talking to anyone at all. I wake up alone, I go to bed alone, I shop alone, except with one group of people, I go to and from social gatherings alone, I never have company, and few people take time out to relax with me even if we like the same things. I claim one best friend 5 states away, one co-worker I see out of work very occasionally, one neighbor I see once in a while, and one family member I see 2-4 times a year. I see about 5 people from church and about 5-10 people at my 12- step group on a weekly basis. It bothers me a great deal that I don’t have more close relationships. I struggle all the time with giving up on even trying to form friendships. I am a currently thinking, “Why bother?”
Interestingly, there is nothing about me except PTSD that would trigger social isolation as a risk factor upon a brief psychiatric evaluation. In fact, even during my office visits with mental health professionals none of them catch my isolation. I bet 95% of people who know me wouldn’t think I could be lonely. Other ACOA members also struggle with isolation, but there it seems like the drowning turning away from the drowning. Sometimes it seems futile. Sometimes I too think, “Why do I bother with this life?” The idea that I am to live everyday alone for the next forty or fifty years makes me want to start planning an exit strategy. And I bet no one would know.
When I attempted suicide 16 years ago, no one saw it coming. Absolutely nobody. Now, I should clarify that where I lived at the time and those around me would not have seen the risk because the entire society was blind to suicide. Even today, in this era of constant news footage, social media, and a phone in most peoples’ back pocket; I have serious doubts that a person in suicide mode would be recognized. One, I truly hope I am seriously wrong; two, I do know how barely perceptible signs can be.
I know how annoying drama can be. Managing difficult emotions, all the baggage of ACOA, addictions, and a newly found disability are possible sources of fuel for drama in my life and probably the lives of others like me. I wonder how many suicides are successful so that there is no chance for drama. Males can’t fail in life or death. That makes me incredibly sad. Males need to be able to fail sometimes. They need to be allowed full range of their emotions at least with a few people, have safety nets in place at the very first sign of possible risk for suicide, and if that risk goes from possible to actual, they need eyes on them until the Grim Reaper gives up and goes away.
I have a theory that beating suicide in individuals that have the highest likelihood of beating it, lies in three main things that others can do; but the rest is up to the individual. One, absolute, non-judgmental, total acceptance by at least one person (preferably 2 or 3) that suicide is a very real and scary problem for this person. I need to be able to talk about suicide similar to talking about stress incontinence (job related), hot flashes (medication related), and wacky periods (also medication related). Peeing my pants is embarrassing. I cannot forget to put on a pad most work days. And when I have a cold, I need poise. Sometimes I suddenly have to stop what I am doing and cool my body down with an ice pack. For me it is either a horrible hot flash or something weird and bad made me shocky as in trauma shocky. Point is, people around me need to know that I may have a problem and am taking steps to deal with it. For me it looks like this: Them-Checking in… All-good? Me-Yes, thanks! Them- Ok. That’s all it is. It may only be a sudden rush of bodily fluids, or it could be life-threatening shame; as long as it saves my life before I even think about ending it.
Two, people biten by the Grim Reaper have to be monitored. A 21 year old male college student that has chronic suicidal thoughts or chronic sadness needs to be cared for like he has type I diabetes. Students who struggle with suicide need respect, confidentiality or identification depending on their comfort level, resources, and regular monitoring with as little disruption as possible. For most people I think it is embarrassing. Men are going to be afraid of being seen as weak, pussies, babies, maybe even queer. Maybe a private agreement that “afib” is code for “Ya, not doing so well here, SOS please.” Strong protections need to be in place to deal with social pressures and ridicule. I have it easy. I like it when people from my job keep trying to get a hold of me if I miss work, if am not heard from for more than two days, or am upset for more than a few days in a row. A simple text from one person on these days reminds me that if I kill myself, I will be missed AND who the fuck will work all my hours? I am soooooo needed. And I need that.
Three, there must be a private, iron clad, and sustainable safety net should the suicidal person decide to let go and allow another to catch them. The best thing I ever did besides have my son, was to let go and let others catch me. In my case it was the medical facility I presented myself to and my co-workers, especially my boss. Thirty people stretched out their arms to catch me.
It’s been 2 1/2 years and they are still there and I am still here.
Chronic suicidal ideation and never-ending sadness is a pain in the ass. I hate that I feel this way. For the last couple of years, the three things above have helped enormously. In addition, I have built a safe and sustainable life. I am working on achieving Balance next. I need a gym membership and a second job part-time hours to deal with bills I have had to ignore to survive.
One last thing. Parents who commit suicide, increase the chances of their children committing suicide. I try to remember this in the moments that I want to give up. I DO NOT want to increase my child’s risk of harming himself. Although he is nearly past the age of highest increased risk, he is far from safe.
When I feel like I have not a soul to love me, I have to remember that I have him. I have at least one person. Not only that, but I have to show him how to live through ups and downs, broke and flush, in love and outta love, a student in school and a student on hiatus, a dedicated worker and someone who remembers to live life, a person with cancer and person cured of cancer and everything else that will surely come my way and some his. And of course, if I die, he will not have unconditional love because that is my job. He would view it as quitting him. He would view it as leaving him alone in the world. He would lose the one person who would catch him if he let go.