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The Thought of Suicide Waits for Me Each Morning

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I went through an extremely bad patch of emotional instability that only served to bring my ever-present thoughts of suicide to the forefront of my mind. Rather than sit on the feelings, I made the incredibly difficult (for me) choice to sit down and speak with my wife about what I was going through. It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable conversation, but it was certainly one of the most worthwhile talks I’ve had in my adult life.

During the course of this conversation, we found ourselves at a bit of an impasse in understanding, which hinged upon the fact that the type of suicidal thoughts I experience can be immensely difficult to relate to, pretty much for anyone. No two minds are alike, but my wife and I are extremely dedicated to relating things in understandable terms. A metaphor for my daily struggle was born.

I want to share that metaphor, now, with a more widespread audience in the hopes that it might help others understand. This isn’t to say my experiences are exclusive, nor is it meant to be a “catch all” explanation for anyone else. This is how I can explain it and, maybe, it’ll be useful to someone else out there.

Every morning, I wake up and go through a routine, just like everyone else. Wake up. Stretch. Shower. Shave. All of that is reasonably normal. It’s during my shower that my brain really begins to wake up and my day begins to take its turn from the ordinary. I wrap myself in a towel. I step out of the bathroom and I walk back into the bedroom to open my chest of drawers to pick out my clothes for the day.

With my brain now fully awake, I pull open the top drawer and find all the things you’d expect to find there: socks, underwear and undershirts, but there’s also something sort of intangible. Somewhere, lurking, is the idea of suicide. It’s right alongside my argyle socks.

Sometimes it’s way back in the back, shoved aside with the “more gray than black” undershirts I really should’ve retired a month ago. Sometimes, it’s right up front, as plainly seen as whatever it is I am certainly going to wear that day. I rarely have any way of telling how omnipresent the thought is in my morning, but I know it’s going to be there.

On the whole, the idea I’m trying to impart is for some people being “suicidal” isn’t a passing condition. It isn’t a crisis to be addressed immediately. It isn’t a headspace that can or will “just go away.” No amount of exercise, medication or sunshine will ever “fix it.” It isn’t something to be fixed. It’s just part of my personality.

Coming to peace with that has been a struggle. Acceptance of that has been difficult both because of the almost universally negative depiction and reactions to suicidal individuals I see every day (whether in social media, television or film) and because of how difficult it is to open up about something so deeply personal. I’ve reached a point in my life where advocating for others and giving a voice to what I know I go through is more important to me than trying to feign happiness or contentment.

I am OK today. I wasn’t as OK yesterday. I don’t know what tomorrow holds necessarily, but I know I’m not alone in the fight. I know I’m not the only person who has something ugly (other than those faded black shirts) in their drawer each morning. I sincerely hope my words will resonate with someone else out there to help them understand they are not alone either.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. 

Originally published: August 9, 2016
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