Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Wanted to Die Last Night

Update 2016: This article was featured in my book "Saying NO to Suicide", with added commentary.

Hear this article read to you:

Like a spectre from Christmas Past haunting Scrooge, old ideation came for a visit last night, complete with jangling chains.

(cc) Christian BachellierDespite all that is miswired in my head, I'm usually a well-balanced person. I struggle with a small cornucopia of maladies, but always put on a bright face, pushing forward. Ever pushing forward. The alternative is something I run from, having experienced it many years ago: a blackness so complete that I cut myself off from friends and family, full of self-loathing, and drawn up within myself in misery.

I've been in the throes of Depression before — I've struggled with Depression since I was fifteen — and I have no intention of ever giving it power over me again. That is why I was so surprised to find myself wishing I was dead last night.

When I was fifteen I flirted with ideas of suicidal ideation. Mostly, it manifested itself in morose, artsy poetry that caused my parents to panic so intensely they drove me from Cape Cod all the way to Boston's Children's Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. How I hated them for that. In my mind at the time it was a colossal humiliation. It was just poetry, I thought, and not even very good poetry.

Some good came of that evaluation, however. For instance, now as an adult I understand how much my parents loved me, but even at the time there were benefits. The specialists pinpointed a few aspects of me with accuracy. I was informed that I was extremely intelligent. I mention this because I remember thinking "You needed a test to figure that out?". No, wait, that was what I thought when they informed us that I was hyperactive. You know, easily distracted, fidgety, etc. This was a scant few years before Attention Deficit Disorder was a known diagnosis. They did put a number on my intelligence, however. It was 145. I was told it was a near-genius IQ, and I distinctly remember focusing only on the "near" part of that adjective. I hated myself for not scoring 150.

I mention all this because it stands in stark contrast with the stupidity of last night as I wished I was dead. I have experienced that before. Prior to getting on disability, I was at the lowest point of my life. I did contemplate suicide and began to plan it out in my mind. The year was 1995 and there wasn't anything on how to make your own cyanide on the internet. I distinctly remember taking an X-acto blade and pushing it against my wrist's skin, gauging how hard I'd have to push to get the job done — wondering if I really wanted to do it. The only reason I stopped? I didn't want my wife to come home from work to a bloody mess. There's heightened logic for you.

Let me be clear. I do not want to kill myself. It was a stupid thing that I said. I was simply weary from all the ticking.

I've been ticking so much lately. I actually hurt last night as I trudged up the stairs. I ached all over from muscle and mental fatigue. I don't just sit there twitching if I can help it. I push myself. Always pushing myself.

When I muttered the moronic words "I wish I was dead" my wife heard them and raced up the stairs after me. "What did you say? What did you say‽" Fire was flaring from her eyes as she decreed it was time for me to go to bed.

At the time, death seemed a logical end to the pain I was experiencing. Obviously, if I was dead I couldn't facial tic, or vocal tic, or clench tic, or curl tic, or flail tic anymore. I would be "free". What a dope. My IQ is a meaningless number if that is the best I can come up with. What is intelligence if we cannot rein our emotions in? All the talents and light God gives us amount to nothing when we throw them away with our lives.

I believe that people who commit suicide truly believe they are solving their problems, but their thinking is flawed at that moment. Born of a chemical storm in their mind, they give credence to thoughts that most of us either dismiss offhand or never experience at all.

What I experienced last night was not suicidal ideation. I've been down that road before. I know it's bends and turns. This was just self-pity disguised as logic. It was born of a feverish mind, overtired and overextended. A good night's sleep was just what I needed. In the light of a new day I'm a bit embarrassed I uttered such idiocy.

I share it with you for insight, however. Perhaps you know a loved one who struggles with suicidal ideation or just writes dark, death-centric poetry. Either way, maybe you can understand them better now. Your job is to help them see that death is not the solution they romanticize or justify it to be. I am fortunate. At all times in my life when I was even remotely serious about suicide, I reasoned myself out of it.

If you struggle with suicidal ideation or know of someone who does, please leave your thoughts below. With the holiday season approaching, and an increase in Depression for some, we should pool our resources together to help those in need see the light that's shining behind the storm in their minds.