If You Have Thoughts About Suicide Like I Do, Please Read This
I consider suicide. I write that in the present tense because it’s the reality of my existence. I consider ending my own life. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but the frequency can be startling. Most of the time the moment is fleeting, like being in your late 30s and thinking about going to a rave. Or one more drink. Or Pop Rocks. Or canned beef stew for that matter. For the briefest of moments you entertain the concept, but quickly the absurdity pushes the thought from your mind. Once in a while the thought skitters across your consciousness like a stone skipped across a lake, only to sink quickly out of sight.
I was out trimming vines from the trees out behind my house today. I enjoy manual labor as it allows my mind to wander, flitting from one thing to another. Today was no different. My mind danced and whirled, changing direction like a hummingbird in flight. Until I started fixating on the vines I was ripping from the trees, and my blissful wanderings came to a abrupt end.
Depression and bipolar disorder are like those vines. They start out small and fragile, creeping onward, barely noticeable. Before long they’ve grown stronger. Tiny fingers grow inward like roots, slowly tightening their grip. Eventually those roots help the vine become an insidious presence that slowly strangles the tree, constricting it. Eventually the tree either dies or breaks free of its infernal bindings.
Depression has essentially been my vine. I don’t yet know if I’ll be breaking free, but I think I might. There are tough days though. Days when the roots of suicidal thought find a small crevice and hold tightly to my thoughts. Those days are difficult in a way I cannot begin to explain. I want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t know what I want beyond a little silence in my mind. The voices and thoughts inside me aren’t me, but they are tricksy. On those days, the voices have me nearly convinced of their authenticity. I am them, they are me and we are one.
Except we aren’t one. We can’t be. We can’t live believing what the interlopers whisper. Every day our minds punish us with fear, isolation, desperation, imagined failures and inadequacies. Suicide isn’t some snap decision, the selfish act of an otherwise highly functioning individual. For others like me, we’ve considered it a thousand times and battled on.
Because unlike majestic oaks, we have power over our vines. We only need to reach out and ask for help. There’s no need to wait helplessly for a savior. No requirement that we sit quietly, waiting for a hapless homeowner to come with snips to save us from our slow demise. Waiting stoicly in the darkness for someone to clip away our vines leads us deeper into the darkness. We need to regain control of our destiny.
Yes, suicide is an option, but not the only one. We can ask for help. We can reach out in the darkness. We can overcome the affliction that grips our minds.
Yeah, I think about suicide. The voices demand it, but I recognize them for what they are. Squatters in my mind, occasionally appropriating more space but never gaining complete control. I haven’t figured out how to expel them completely, not yet. Eventually though, I will squeeze them out, tearing away at the vines that bind my mind. Then I will be free. Then I will have my chance to grow without the constriction of my mind.
I will not be beaten. I will not be overcome. I will ask for help when I need it. I will open up to friends and family. I will allow them to save me from myself. These are choices we can all make. It can be as simple as a deep breath or a phone call to a hotline. I have chosen to live, and I want the same for you.
This originally appeared on The Good Man Project.
If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.