Wednesday, May 29, 2013

10 Reasons to Kill Yourself

I have experienced very black depressions, and know how hard it is to get help when you are in such a state. I have pet the black-eyed dog Winston Churchill and Nick Drake wrote about. It has sat on my lap. Its breath is horrible.

There are few places you can find solace when the dog pays a visit. Few places, that is, if you're lucky. There is very little that resonates. At least for me, certain music could touch me; Nine Inch Nails has shooed the dog away for me before. So has John Berryman's poetry. Kay Redfield Jamison has also helped. But there's not much out there that can do the job; the writing is either too sanitary or too hopeful. When I am with the dog--when his scent overpowers everything else in the room--upbeat motivational speeches don't do me any good. If anything, they make things worse.

When I told my wife I was going to write a blog post called '10 Reasons to Kill Yourself', she cringed. But then I explained my thinking to her; to reach someone in a deep depression, you have to know the terrain. Those of us who have been there know, so it is on us to reach out to each other in a language we can understand.

I thought it would be worthwhile to collect a bunch of reasons in favor of suicide, and then demonstrate that there are actually better reasons not to commit suicide. For example; there is no God, therefore life is meaningless. But if there is no God, then you are actually presented with an opportunity to create your own meaning. I would flesh these little bullet points out, of course, but you get the point. Then it occurred to me that this gimmick would  be too transparent, and may only irritate a person in a deep depression. It would read like too many evangelical pamphlets that present straw man arguments for atheism and then proceed to knock them down with spurious logic.

So I am writing this instead. Maybe it is best just to lay my intentions bare and see what comes from them? When I started my recovery from alcoholism, it wasn't the AA or NA manual that provided me with the most sustenance; it was Richard Lewis's book The Other Great Depression. He wrote about things I understood from his personal vantage point. It surprised me how similar our vantage points were, too. As I began to come to terms with my mental illness, it was Kay Redfield Jamison and William Styron that made sense to me, and made me feel I wasn't alone.

Maybe just writing about our experiences are enough. So that's what I'm doing.

I already have two chihuahuas that I love, and two dogs are enough for me.


Steppenwolf said...

I have suffered suicidal depressions in the past (I have Bi-Polar Disorder) the one thing that dissuaded me – having seen the devastation wrought in those left behind. My best friend killed himself some years ago and his mother’s life was destroyed. I think about the effect on my own son and how I’d be remembered. I don’t think I’m ready to be a tragedy – I don’t think I could do that to my family. Still, in the grip of the suicidal impulse it’s easy to think of one’s life as a tragedy with an inevitable outcome, but the thought of scarring the rest of my boy’s life has prevented me thus far from copping out and calling it a day.

bigjay965 said...

In my profession I have seen my fair share of suicides. The worst part is talking to the family to let them know about what had happened. The last one, a 16 year old boy, really struck home with me. It was two weeks after my sister committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. He did not jump in front of a train, but rather off of a 6 story parking garage. Arriving on scene it was clear that there was little that I could do for the young boy. When I attempted to bag him (CPR without using mouth to mouth) nothing but blood filled the bag valve mask. It’s scenes like this that after all is said and done, my only thought runs to the family members that I or someone else is going to have to talk to. You can only contain so much composure when you have a single mother grasping onto you at the news that her only son has just taken his life. This is sad to say, but at least for me the next feeling is anger. Why would someone feel that this is the only course of action? Is life truly that miserable? Was there nobody else he could talk to? Then I thought of my sister. My entire family had opened their doors to her since she was 13 and she started down a terrible path. Alcoholism, narcotics, and prostitution were her entire life at the age of 23. She has two beautiful sons that she left behind almost 6 years ago when she decided to move to Washington State and that they were better off living with my parents. The only communication that she had with them was two or three phone calls a year at various holidays. This too, I did not understand, especially now that I have a daughter on my own. How could anyone leave something as beautiful as your own flesh and blood? A little over a year ago, she was extradited back to Ohio for felony counts of non-payment of child support. She did 6 months in a rehabilitation center, and was released to a half-way house in Cincinnati, with various legal and financial stipulations. I was able to speak to her while she was home in Ohio, and everything seemed to be going great. It was the best conversation that I have had with my sister for almost 10 years. Sadly, two weeks later I got a phone call from my mother saying that she had run again, back to Washington State. Six months later, exactly 3 days before the birth of my daughter, my mom called me and told me that my sister had committed suicide. She had been dead for a week, and they had just been able to identify her body that day. On the weekend of Saturday May 4, I drove to Ohio the night before to attend my sister’s memorial. The pastor opened the floor to anyone who wanted to say any words. I was the first person to stand up and speak. To my surprise, I was the only one who stood. My father didn’t, my mother didn’t, her two sons didn’t. I was in shock. Later, when we were all mulling around the smorgasbord of food, my father and uncle came and gave me a hug. I asked why nobody else got up to say anything, almost with a taste of disgust in my town. My dad looked at me with tear soaked eyes and told me that what I had said covered all bases, that nobody else could have depicted my sisters life, and what she had left behind (her sons) any better than I had. Those words coming from my father, a man who has very little to say in the first place broke my heart. To this day I will never understand suicide, and why people do it.
Spencer, I sit here at my desk at work with tears in my eyes, you couldn’t have said it any better. “Maybe just writing about our experiences are enough.” I have been to mandatory counseling through the police department, for the death of the 16 year old child, and as well as personal counseling for family issues including those of my sister. Through all those hours nothing quite puts my mind at ease as just writing. I apologize that I chose your blog to release my feelings. I am not a frequent follower, but when I do read it, it seems like what you do write was meant for me, and for that, I thank you.

Spencer Troxell said...

Steppe wolf: good to hear from you!

J: in 2004 a dear friend of mine commited suicide by jumping off an overpass. I am still not over it, but a book I found helpful was Kay Redfield Jamison's 'Night Falls Fast'. I heartily recommend it.

I wish you both the best.