Monday, September 08, 2014

25 Reasons I Say "No" to Suicide

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

Suriviving suicide requires having a reason to live. In fact, it requires many reasons. Start your list today.

First Daughter of Four. Top of my list.

I was supposed to start my week with a bang. Here was my big opportunity to blog every day to honor National Suicide Prevention Week. I’d get the blog out in the morning, promote it on social media, and maybe share my story with new readers. Instead, my tic disorder & sickness put me out of commission. I didn’t even climb out of bed until 5:30pm, finally able to move. My soon to be thirteen-year-old had kept tabs on me. She fed me half of her Fluffernutter Sandwich in bed, told me about her exciting Sonic the Hedgehog findings, and gave me hugs & kisses. Eventually, my mind and body drifted slowly into sync, and I was able to get going.

At that point I was supposed to start blogging immediately, but the virus the kids gave me last week still kept me otherwise occupied. Plus there was dinner to make, and laundry to move along. Then my soon to be sixteen-year-old came home with her first prom dress, literally glowing so intensely I feared her body would no longer contain its excitement and go super nova in my living room. She also asked me one of those questions that in her mind are supposed to have simple answers, but which represent enormous fleets of icebergs, all hiding hours of discussion underneath the waves. We had one of those discussions tonight. It was far more important than dirty sinks and unwritten blogs.

We Are Connected to Life around Us

I suppose what I am trying to get at is that my family has always been important to me, and that is as it should be. This has been key in my ability to shake off suicidal urges. Life and people in general play havoc with our ToDo lists, getting in the way of Great Things, but through friends and family we are connected to life around us, most especially with children. Those bright spirits with their glorious, independent minds need to be nourished and cared for during the short time they are with us. Then they are off like shooting stars to blaze their own trails through the firmament. I could focus on the emptiness that future separation brings, or I could focus on the interruptions to Great Things those bright spirits bring on a daily basis, but instead I will focus on how they help me stay alive.

Twenty or so years ago I was at a low point in my life. My attempts to treat ADHD had given me a motor tic disorder, while my efforts to treat clinical depression had made me suicidal. Side-effects from psychmeds had sidetracked my life. Although I had flirted artfully with suicidal ideation since I was fifteen, panicking my parents as only fifteen-year-olds who write death poetry can, never before had I actually wanted to put an end to things. I’ve written before about suicide, but have I written enough about why I chose life over death?

All those years ago I sat there with blade to wrist and thought of reasons—any reason!—why I should not bring an end to my pain. I thought of my wife at the time and how heartbroken she would be. I thought of my first daughter and how I took care of her. Who would watch my girl when my former wife went off to work? Who would clean up the crimson mess I would leave behind? What a terribly selfish thing to do to people I supposedly held dearest.

Before that moment, suicide seemed a kind and logical thing to do for my family. To my thinking at the time, I would no longer disappoint my parents. I would no longer be a burden and embarrassment for my wife at the time. My stuff could be given away to friends and brothers. My daughter would never even remember me. I could be easily erased from everyone’s life, and I would no longer hurt. Yet it was all a lie. Suicide warps the way we think. It bends and twists our logic through funhouse mirrors filled with dark clowns and poorly lit futures. Whereas clinical depression feels as if a weight of sadness crushes downward upon me, suicidal depression is a frantic energy filled with self-loathing and violence towards myself, as if I could claw my own heart from my chest to relieve the pain.

Keep a List Forefront in Your Mind

I have reached those low depths from time to time. However, my list of reasons for staying alive has grown with each year. Despite the failures of my life, I have many joys as well. It is with purpose that I mark each joy to recall later when needed. I know now that suicidality is a lie of depression and not to be heeded. In fact, I manage my depression on a daily basis because of the list. If I were to be gripped with suicidal ideation tomorrow, I would remind myself of…

smiling daughters,
pig piles on Daddy,
the generosity and kindness of friends,
chauffeuring parents,
cheerful conversations with strangers,
the readers of this blog,
good typography,
the comforting escapism of Science Fiction television and Fantasy novels,
pulse pounding and heart moving Japanese anime & manga,
breathtaking sunsets on a warm Summer’s eve,
the ephemeral beauty of nature,
the Second Comforter and a loving Redeemer,
the delightful laugh of a woman,
and the transcending power of music.

Some of the joys of my life are in need of a cornucopia of tomorrows, not just one more day, to be fully realized like…

Japanese roleplaying games that never end,
apotheosis and perfection,
art supplies and the hope of using them,
a blank page awaiting words,
stories untold,
and dreams unfulfilled.

In fact, the more I contemplate it, the more I realize that my life is overfilled with reasons to continue living, and not just to continue living, but to live with bright purpose. These things are in themselves not what save me, but together they define the happy, tiny moments that keep me sane. Moments exactly like…

sudden road trips with faeries
prom dress grins,
conversations with the depth of icebergs,
constant interruptions to Great Things,
and Fluffernutter sandwiches.

Life may not work out the way we want or dreamed, but if we make the effort now to store up a list of joys, we can call on them to shine light into the darkness of depression when we are at our lowest. We can choose to live.