Your life is precious. But it’s your life, you get to decide how to live it or not.
Maybe you woke up, involuntarily committed, drinking a drip through your arm. Maybe you woke up disappointed watching your heart beating, a blossoming cadence of red in tepid and darkening bathwater. Maybe you woke up in your comfortable bed with alcohol poisoning, but not enough of it; or interrupted from embracing a perfect haze by an unasked-for dose of narcan; or maybe in a cell with no shoestrings in sight.
Sometimes we wake up even though we chose to never do so again.
You aren’t wrong to hurt yourself. You don’t deserve shame or guilt. You have the authority to forgive yourself, or bear your own punishment alive, or hurt yourself again if that’s what feels right.
These are some things my loving friends and family wouldn’t or couldn’t say when I needed to hear them. It’s like they needed me to stick around for their own lives not to cave in. Maybe you’re familiar with this misgiving. So be it, and God bless them. I want to share with you the stuff I heard from another friend who had made an attempt but uncannily stuck around, and I wanted to write to you because of how much their words helped me when I was closer to suicide.
I’ve been waking up to suicidal ideations for the past ten years: trapped in comfortable patterns, upholstered with plush, poison ideas in my brain’s gray folds. They come and go. Sometimes I act on them, usually not. One time I threw myself down a flight of stairs. Another time I took a bottle of pills totaling a little under 2 grams of dextromethorphan –500 mg above the estimated human toxicity threshold. This didn’t kill me; I am a larger-sized person. I did however suffer serotonin syndrome and deep dissociative fugue for two weeks afterward. A teenager wandering aimlessly around my childhood home, I was unsure if anything would ever be the same inside.
Over the years I’ve designed lots of other suicides, lazy or slow or half-assed hazards: cutting myself up, the razor’s charisma effective but not quite enough to bleed me out; biking sober and hoping to be hit by a car and killed; alone, handling a wild copperhead snake on a hike and, a different time, alone on my back in a garage asking a black widow to bite, only to have them slither or skitter away calmly and without incident.
Not everything has been so extreme. Distributed throughout a life of petty crimes for “survival,” there have been subtler, less-visible long cons on life. Beyond the ideations, I noticed myself taking up new practices, which, if preserved, would end me – at least some aspect or dimension of me. For example, I may have sacrificed my capacity to have fun a few years ago after one too many martyr-activist consensus meetings, the bony fingers of the grim reaper twinkling in Occupy-style sign language. This is how I imagine liver damage occurs: among a group of friends in perfect still and silence, but with a permanent effect that beats louder with each breath.