I have three other variations of this post drafted. Carefully, trying to manicure it down into some poignant piece that makes it easier for those who aren’t suicidal to “get it” in some way. I’m beginning to think I write to please the wrong people. I hope there’s something in this that helps someone. I really do.
The way American culture views suicide is just as bizarre to me as other cultures do. Several people, I know personally have told me that where they come from suicide is just a way to weed out the weak ones or that it’s a meaningless grab for attention until you actually do it. America is a mixed bag of reactions, but when the suicidal ideation is closer to home, the core group of friends, then you basically only get to talk about it once and then never again.
People don’t like to be around negative people. Being suicidal is unto itself a burden and everything and everyone it touches. We can’t go into this naively anymore. Not everyone is prepared to deal with the weight of questions “Why should I keep living?” or “What if none of it matters?”
I worry now that even talking about it is just going to piss someone off. “Don’t make people worry about you.” “Just be okay. Be chill. Relax.”
It’s been 8 years since my suicide attempt and sometimes there is a little bit of guilt. Why didn’t I write sooner? What if I had gone out that night, could I have done something to help someone? I’ve been suicidal since I was 11, it’s an incredibly familiar feeling to me. Real talk? I would “practice” all the time. Tie belts around my neck until I passed out, get burns on my arms, slam my body against walls, poison myself, drink till the point of pain. All so the shock of death wouldn’t be so scary to 15 year old me. I took all the pictures out of the house with me in them, refused to be in any for years, to lessen the pain if there was to be anyone who missed me.
After the big suicide attempt, it was like coming up for air in the middle of a dark ocean. I still feel like I’m gasping to keep my head above water, it’s just natural now like walking. But since the beginning of the year, my resolve is shaking.
My reason to be was always I’m going to save people, I was going to save everyone from their personal hells, beat up their demons. Not because it was noble or right, made me feel like a savior…but because I never got that and it might have made all the difference. Maybe. I helped three people in big ways and everytime it got me burned. Badly. (They’re still alive, just the road to hell is paved with good intentions.) So if the depth of my willingness to “save” people isn’t enough to stop bad things from happening then what’s the point?
And if I don’t have an answer, what answer can I possibly give others who feel the same way?
You have to fight.
From suicide attempts to every other day to none for the year so far, it’s been a lot of work, a level that I still haven’t figured out how to articulate properly. I stopped looking at the ideation as something to be afraid of and learned to change its purpose. Rephrase the statement “No one would miss you if you were gone.” into “If being missed is the pain point, it’s really a lack of feeling appreciated. Am I putting in the work to build that kind of relationship?” Suicide aims to stop you, take your everything away, and it can slow you down to an overwhelming stand still, like the ocean after a storm. So I would stop, and reflect. Are there conversations I’m avoiding because I’m scared of something? Is not doing anything the right choice when it causes this much pain? The only thing that changes is now I know the truth about something. It’s still true whether I know it or not, so I’d rather know.
My suicidal thought process is like a defective record player that can only play in reverse by itself. The only to get it to play forward is manually change the speed and push it forward. But what is it trying to say?
Simply by being present you have changed everything. You’re not just another body in a room, a part of the crowd. You contribute to the success of club night by having a good time, you’re a witness to someone else facing their fear of dancing in public, you might be the reason the girl behind you in line, in an effort to not bump into you, bumped into someone else and that’s how she met someone. You got the last of the whiskey and that’s why Alex didn’t have a seventh drink. You may never get to know how much you changed by being present, but you changed everything because you were there.
You’re not invisible, take it from someone who still gets ridiculously surprised that they get tagged in posts on Instagram for Tuesday night. “See you soon, tiny dragon.” “I’ll see you tonight.” “Let’s get food before…” It still feels new, because I never thought it would happen. I planned my whole life with the certainty it would never happen. It’s not about quantity. It’s about knowing that you deserve a chance to have real friends and to be reached out for. You do deserve that. That’s a thing that can happen to you.
You’re going to make mistakes. Life is full of arguments and bruises. You’re going to stumble. You can sit on the ground for as long as you want but eventually, you’re going to try to stand. You’re going to want to get up from the floor and get a taco. And in the larger scheme of things, you can see yourself falling and getting up for a taco, you can imagine a future with you in it. If it feels to lofty to see years into the future, scale it back. Months, weeks, days, hours, minutes. Where can you be in five minutes? Holding a cup of coffee. Going for a walk. Sending a text “I love you” and getting one back “Aww, I love you too.” Masturbating? Shatter suicide’s illusion that the perfect place is dead, it’s a fucking jackass. Punch in the goddamn face when it tells you aren’t worth anything, that nothing will change.
If I hadn’t believed there was something better, I would have never quit my job with the racist manager.
I would never have gone to the show.
I would never have started working on that show.
I would never have traveled with that show.
I would never have ended up in Los Angeles.
I would never have met the people who tagged me in the photos.
and at the start of the list of “if I had/I would never” is…well the obvious one.
It’s not always going to be perfect. You might be broke at 37, eating ramen and hijacking your neighbor’s wifi. That’s not your whole life and that’s not all your life can ever be. You have to arm yourself to the teeth with the truth about who you are and what you can do. Remember what made you laugh and play it over and over in your mind. Remember that there are more moments like that.
Truth is, I don’t know. I can’t promise it gets better (I’m still not sure if my life has gotten “better”) but it does get different. I can promise you it does get different. I just want you to know there’s another path to take, that no matter how beautiful suicide sounds, it’s a lie and you don’t deserve to be lied to like that. I’ll take every metaphorical beating that life throws at me to remind you that it can be done for as long as I can. Even if we don’t like each other for whatever reason (bigotry included), I don’t doubt what you can mean to someone else. What good you can do for them.
So what’s the point? I’m still not entirely sure, but I’m very curious to find out. It’s going to feel amazing when I do find out and I’m going to experience so much on my way there.
Right now, personally, it’s you. I am excited for all the things you’ll accomplish, the mistakes you’ll learn from, how you’ll learn to forgive, everything. Tell me all about it.
I look forward to a future with you in it.
Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels