Trigger warning: Discusses suicidal ideation and depression
I think the reason I’ve never come even close to a successful suicide attempt is because I don’t really want to kill myself. I don’t even really want to die.
I just want to feel less pain.
I’ve been in pain for most of my remembered life. There was a moment where it’s almost like a switch was flipped, and I wasn’t a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine fifth grader anymore, but rather a sad, self-loathing sixth grader.
Ever since then, I’ve bobbed between wanting to be alive and wishing for the release of death.
In 10th grade, I was convinced to see the school counselor. I’ve been in therapy of some sort almost constantly since then; it’s been more than 11 years.
And still I’m not better. Still I balance in the amber between wanting to die, and simply wanting to live free of pain.
My inability to commit, one way or the other, makes it hard to convince doctors of both the seriousness of my illness, and how serious I am about getting better.
Because the two coexist — if not in harmony, then definitely in mutual unease. My illness takes over my mind and I flounder in it, suffocated under the never-ending, roiling rottenness of it all. But as strong as it is, I’m still incredibly functional.
I write books, go to social events, perform well at work. I am pursuing multiple freelance writing ventures, I blog about books and my own life, I wake up and shower and carry on.
I survive, and sometimes I thrive, and when it comes time to commit to ending it, I falter. Because there is so much to look forward to in this life — in spite of all the bitterness that has come so far.
In this life, I hope to write even more books, find an agent and get a book deal. I’d love to become a columnist for a magazine (print or online), and grow my social media empire to the point where I have actual followers who would follow me onto any platform. I want to date, fall in love, get my heart broken, move on, be in a lasting relationship.
Mostly, I want to be better. I want to feel less pain.
The pain is agonizing, sometimes. It feels like there’s pressure building behind my eyes, steam begging to be released from my ears, but my skull is closed and there’s nowhere for all the feelings to go.
So they travel deeper, through my throat, making me gag. They pass into my stomach, which roils with bile and that sharp punch of a really bad period cramp.
My legs tense up, my fingers curl in until my nails dig into the flesh of my palms, and my breath comes in short, ragged gasps.
And while my body turns against me, my mind is flinging the most cutting, finely crafted of digs at me.
Nobody will ever love you.
You are an impostor upon this Earth.
Your family would be happier if you vanished — so vanish.
But I can’t. Even when I’ve tried, even when I’ve sat down and literally typed the question into a search bar, I can’t figure out how to properly kill myself.
Because I don’t want to. I have all those reasons to live! I love those reasons to live.
Those reasons have pulled me through some of the hardest moments of my life, taken hold of my hand and forcefully dragged me along with them when all I wanted was to stay rooted in place, let the seasons change around me until some element came and ripped my soul from my body.
So I live.
But I live in pain.
And I don’t know how to make it stop.
Maybe, probably, it never will stop. I think the trick isn’t living without the pain, but learning to live through the pain.
It’s likely my 11 years of therapy are the building blocks upon which I will craft another 11 years of life. And another 11 after that, and so on.
I have to believe the tools I have learned and lost and learned again will be my weapons against the pain for the rest of my life.
Sometimes I’m okay with this — with knowing it’s a lifelong battle.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling the weird emotion of being suicidal but not wanting to die, I am not okay with this knowledge. And that only makes the suicidal ideation so much worse.
Up till now, I’ve made it. I’ve always successfully fought the feelings, even if fighting meant giving in and getting help: sometimes that has looked like calling a friend, sometimes it’s meant going to a hospital, and multiple times it’s meant reaching out to a lifeline via phone or chat. There are tons of resources available for people like me.
Because ultimately, I don’t want to die, as suicidal as I am most days. I’m just trying to stay alive and be okay.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, check out the resources below:
* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.
* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.
* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.
* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.
* Call Trevor Lifeline, 1-866-488-7386, a free and confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.