Update 18/12/16 20:03: My friend is alive and okay. 🙂
It is 02:14. I cannot sleep. There is noise in my head and at my fingertips. Voices in different tongues, languages that cannot speak of happiness, where “happiness” has no dictionary wedge, no page, no meaning. I may have lost a friend tonight. So this will be about things I should have told him.
For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know that I used to suffer from chronic suicidality. I used to tell my therapists I have four “moods:” 1. mildly suicidal, 2. moderately suicidal, 3. severely suicidal, and 4. urgently suicidal. #4 is hospitalization. #2 was the most typical on an average day until April 2016.
Even so, every day, I have to make the choice to survive. If you’re familiar with mental illness (whether from chronic pain, trauma, both, or otherwise), this may ring too true. I say “too” because this is a reality many of us must brace ourselves for each night we fall asleep. We have to say, “If I wake up tomorrow, I must continue the fight.” How hard it is to sleep when that echoes in you! It is even harder to get out of bed and face the day when you’re disarmed for the battle.
That’s why the word “why” and its answer are so important.
What is purpose?
I have never been conventionally religious. In fact, I have my own creed that I go by, influenced by my own experiences, wisdom, and intuition. Some people say they “find” purpose with a higher power, but I never really have. As my mother says, “Faith is just a gift I didn’t get.”
I don’t believe anyone “finds” purpose, however. At least, for me, the idea that we create ourselves has been more believable to me; that we create our own identity, our own “Why?” for living. It’s a hard task for anyone who’s dealt with suicidal ideations or urges.
If you “find” a semblance of peace and/or motivation in your higher power, then go for it, surely. Faith can be a strong propeller for many people. It just isn’t for me. And for literal decades, it was hard for me to identify Why I should live and not take my own life. As I mentioned, I attempted to overdose again in October and again in April 2018. That being said, these reasons still feel flimsy sometimes, as if nothing I make or want or need can provide an equal promise as death. It is important to note here that even with its difficulties, I am still alive. And I am still fighting, even when I try to end the war prematurely. I call the rocky times “emotional hiccups,” which sounds rather innocent for what they are. They’re more like storms that break into me; car wrecks that often leave me wounded.
Purpose does not heal me. Purpose does not necessarily motivate me at this point in time, and Purpose is sometimes hard to understand. It is my sentiment that overall, most people are capable of creating their own Purpose if they choose a healthful frame of mind. That in itself however takes a lot of work and introspection. No one chooses to be suicidal; it’s a violence that people literally see to the death. When I say I have to choose to live every day, when I choose to fight each battle, I am saying I can make that choice now, because I know I am capable of more than this.
Depression and/or depressive symptoms create “blind spots.” As with driving, you can be doing all the right things and still get into a wreck because the mirror doesn’t show everything. Such is with depression and/or depressive symptoms. You can be eating right, exercising mindfully, going out with friends, and still get hit head-on by a semi-truck of pure, violent, and debilitating depression. It’s not fair, and it sucks, but this is the truth of it. And when we are suffering from it, hope drags in those blind spots. Rationale is in those blind spots. The singular fact that we have a choice also falls into invisibility, and that’s where “choosing to live” sounds preposterous or too painful or like too much. It takes effort that we don’t have when we’re at rock bottom. And that is what makes mental illness so dangerous.
We are so often at the mercy of a merciless disease. We can’t “chin up,” because the noose is already around our neck. So what do we do? How do we climb out from the gallows? How when there is no Why?
You might not know Why right now. You might not have made it for yourself yet. You might not know where you want to go, aside from an endless slumber. So for me to tell you to stay alive just because probably isn’t going to help. As someone who battles suicidality so often, I have mixed feelings about suicide, euthanasia, and death. I feel immoral when asking someone to stay alive, and I feel immoral if I don’t intervene. But the truth is, no one should die from despair. It happens all of the time. But it shouldn’t. We are worth more than our suicidality tells us. Do you agree?
Changes must be incremental. You don’t recover from despair easily. Those little things people tell you to do, to smile, to laugh, to keep a balanced kind of busy, find a hobby, all have merit. Oftentimes, they sound like scripted answers. You say, “Okay, okay, sure” but know it’s easier said than done. And it is. But if you’re not looking in the mirror when you get up, bedhead with bad breath and bags under your eyes, while saying “I’m awesome,” and “I can make it through this day,” you are doing yourself a real disservice. Even if you don’t believe it, say it, and say it with bravado. It sounds so stupid and/or pointless, and it will be if you make it so, but keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep pretending to love that person in the mirror. Keep pretending you want to protect them. These things do sink in. It takes a long time. Longer than some people have. But please work those pearly whites by smiling, by laughing, by brushing your teeth until you realize you are human and capable of real good and real power. Then remember it beyond that. We can’t choose much in our lives. We can only control ourselves and I agree that that in itself sounds kind of doubtful, (even though it is true.) But you can choose to adjust your mirror and see in the blind spot what you’ve been missing all of this time.
My reasons for living
You can find them here. I advise you to search deep into yourself and find your own. I suggest making those reasons independent of specific people or specific things or specific conditions. You never know what life is going to throw at you, and you need to arm yourself with power over your reality, your life, etc. I would love it if readers shared their own reasons for living, but they are more for you than for anyone else. So I encourage you to share, but if you want to keep it for yourself, then do that also. Keep it handy. And keep telling yourself that you will make it through this day.