Writings from the Nuthouse I
***WARNING: Writings on Suicide***
I was at the Brook psychiatric hospital in Louisville from June 26, 2017 to July 6, 2017. Eleven days. Imagine how much writing I did in eleven days! I know exactly. One hundred and ten handwritten pages, which formed the basis of my first memoir.
I'm coming up on five years since I was discharged. I'm better. But I've only truly gained ground this last year, particularly the last eight months, since I vacationed in Louisville last summer. A lot of things became very clear during that visit, and it was truly a crossroads. Every day has gotten a bit bitter since then. Certainly not without setbacks, devastating setbacks, but in the net, my mental health is much improved.
After my last overwhelming episode of suicidal ideation, during which I firmed up a plan, I got scared. Because I know suicide isn't a solution, and I know it isn't what I really want. To avoid acting on my plan, I spent the night of June 15, 2021, in the ER. After I was released, I made an irrevocable decision never to act on suicide thoughts again. Suicide doesn't live here anymore.
Woven through all the darkness in these writings, you can see Hope fighting to make her presence known. Spirit has always been with me. She in me, and I in her, are why I Persevere.
Are You Suicidal?
Are you suicidal? I've been asked, twice today. What does suicidal mean? Does it mean I want to die? To have my life be over? To cease to exist or better yet to go to a place of quiet, beauty, happiness? Then yes, I am suicidal. Does it mean I want to devise a plan to end my life and act out that plan? Well, yes that applies too. So yes. I know this for sure, if this doesn't work and nothing changes, I don't want to continue. And I'm not sure what will happen, but somehow some way I will make sure it’s over. I’ve planned it before. I can plan it again.
I Hope Tomorrow is Better
I wonder what it feels like to have Suicide not live in the dark dank terrifying regions of my brain. He’s always in there. He is made strong through my lack of faith, hope, and self-confidence. Those are not traits of which I have a fast hold. I fight for those qualities. And sometimes fighting seems bigger than what I can do. Like right this moment.
I hope tomorrow is better.
I Want to Die but I Don’t Want to Die
When I want to die, I want to simply end the excruciating pain in my mind. To execute a suicide, you must be out of your mind with pain, unable to form any other alternative. You must be wholly focused on the act, committed to ensuring it's completion. Which is one of the most courageous things a person can do. I'm not glorifying the act. I'm saying that it takes incredible courage to override the instinct to live. Almost impossible strength.
Suicide is not what it appears to be on the face of it, that a person has given up. Suicide is not a "cry for help", or an attention seeking behavior. Suicide is evidence a person was literally out of their mind with pain, and because of that, was unable to formulate any other option for dealing with that pain. I went there. I lived there.
Suicide is evidence of the fact the pain was so bad, the person was willing to make the ultimate decision to change their state of being, by ending it and moving onto whatever is next, all the while hoping whatever is next is simply non-existence. Yet, even if one embraces the concept of hell, the pain is so overwhelming, hell seems a better alternative than living in the pain of now.
I’m Losing What Makes me ME
I compare myself to who I was "before" and the difference is shocking. Horrifying. Then I feel as if I don't know who I am, who I've become. And my self-hate flourishes. My self-hate is like cancer that is growing rapidly, gorging on all the pieces inside me that make me Me, that make me Special Me, that woman I've always believed myself to be. Self-hate is eating up all my goodness and leaving behind just pain and emptiness and an overwhelming desire to cease. I'm terrified.
I’m losing all the things about me that made me proud of Me. My intelligence, my career, my income, my ability to manage and control my own life. Those were the things upon which my self-esteem and my self-worth have been based my entire life.
When the rug made up of the fabric of who you are is pulled out from under you, what is left?
Is Suicide a Right?
I can't fathom the ways in which people try to off themselves. We can't use the stairs because someone jumped a flight to die.
I wonder, on the quality-of-life spectrum, does the right to suicide exist? I'm not talking about end-of-life suicide, or those who opt not to live out a terminal illness. I'm talking about depression suicide. Is the option to end one's life a matter of personal freedom?
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you feel you'll be happier dead, aren't you acting within your rights?
The White Night
I feel like I am somewhere far away, looking at this life I’m living as if it weren’t real. Just a completely false construct. I’m really living this wonderful productive life on another plane. I’m aspiring to do great things. I’m doing great things. I’m not stuck in this mess I’m stuck in here. I’m not here.
I’m somewhere where my mind is free from all the death thoughts. When I wake up, I get up and I live my life. I don’t wake up and start to tear before I open my eyes. All of that is unreal. My real existence is in a world much better than this. And my place in that world is not as someone just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or just waiting to die. I’m living. Fully.
Hanging onto the whole idea makes me feel hopeful. Is it a glimpse of my future I’m seeing? I think about this phase I’m in, playing itself out, and moving out of this limbo back into wanting to live, in this world.
Then I think about someone coming to save me. Like, ya, like a man. I chastise myself for wanting that, for not being a good enough feminist. For not being able to fix myself, myself. I know no one can rescue me. Right?
I Don’t Want to Miss It
I’ve been saying, somewhat tongue in cheek, that I want to fuck as many times as I can before I forget how. Is that what I really want? No. I want to love fully, and be loved fully, before life takes it away from me. Before it’s the last chance. I don’t want to miss it.
And So It Goes
For as long as I can remember, when I’ve cried, when I’ve suffered, when I’ve thought I might die from the pain inside, I’ve said to myself, “It’s going to be OK. Things always work out. Maybe not right away, but things always work out over time.”
It may take a very long time for a situation to resolve. It may take years, even, to cycle through a depression and come out the other side. But things do work out, over time.
Things do get better, but mostly, things just change. You get older, you figure things out, you make better decisions, you change course, you move to a new place, people that were in your life leave, new people enter. With maturity comes wisdom comes resilience.
“A year from now you’ll have a whole different set of problems than you do right now.” I say that to my friends who are so stuck in the black they have no idea how they’ll ever climb out. And somehow, that’s supposed to be comforting. But it’s kind of not, really. Problems never go away. They just change. How comforting is it to know you will always have problems that threaten to tear you down and steal your peace?
No one can avoid pain and disappointment and even despair in life. It’s a given. And really, that’s not OK. Why is there never any sustained period of respite? I don’t know. Yet, I Persevere.
My grandma used to say, “No one ever promised you a rose garden.” And she was saying that decades before the song. She heard that from her parents. Who heard that from their parents.
Everything changes, and nothing is different. Cycles of suffering and joy and grieving and happiness repeat over and over. And yet and still, life goes on.
“And so it goes.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five