People say that suicide is selfish. And sure, they’re right – it is selfish to leave behind bereft family and friends who you cannot support, who will never know your last words and last thoughts, and constantly question if they could have helped, if they could have done more.
Keeping me alive is also selfish. It’s selfish that people expect me to stay here, in my pain and darkness, when there’s a way out, if only I had enough strength to take it. I know that’s my depression talking, that that thought is disordered, and that it requires far more strength and courage to struggle through the pain, to wake up everyday and pretend that my mind isn’t an ocean of turmoil, to go to work and uni and to study and to prep lessons for my students, and then going to sleep when all sleep means to me is waking up and doing it all again tomorrow. Waking up to darkness, even when sun streams through my open windows, waking up to blackness in my soul, no matter how many compliments I receive.
Is it selfish to relieve people of the burden I am in their lives? To stop their worries and concerns, so that they can carry on with their lives without me, a dark leper, clinging to their support and validation?
Depression is waking up to darkness, even when sun streams through my open windows, waking up to blackness in my soul.
I don’t know if you know this, but it takes so much mental energy to resist compulsions to hurt myself, or to go one step further and end my life. These thoughts are intrusive, unwelcome, and constant. It’s mentally exhausting. I’m broken. Unworthy. I deserve to be punished. I can’t be fixed.
The worst part about staying alive is the memories. Yes, I have good memories. In fact, I’ve seen and done some incredible things. Supervised trainee crew members on a sailing ship I volunteer for, as the only Cook’s Mate also known to love climbing; conquered mountains in Nepal, Borneo, and across Western Australia; acted in a youth theatre for twelve years; been on hiking and camping adventures all over Australia, slipped while scaling rock faces and fallen into secluded waterfalls, fed wild kangaroos and watched sunsets in incredible and unknown corners of my home state; own a brain that allows me to see incredible patterns and perform incredible calculations, when it’s not being hijacked by mental illness. And I am fortunate enough to have parents and friends that love me despite the darkness, and do their best to support me.
These are just a few of the things that keep me alive. I know all these things.
But I also know anorexia. Bulimia. Trauma. Self harm. Emotional abuse. Hostile environments. Invalidation. Exclusion. Hospitalisation. Isolation. These memories are harder to accept, and despite my best efforts, difficult to suppress. They come up when I least expect it, they cause me to question situations even when I’m feeling fine. Firstly they will trigger anxiety, and the tapping, then resentment, depression, hostility and bitterness. Finally, the suicidal thoughts intrude. All in the space of an hour, even if I’m surrounded by friends.
I’m fully aware that suicide is an act which seems selfish to those who have never experienced the turmoil that chronic depression generates, or enticed by the escape death would provide. To me though, I’d be committing a selfless act, releasing everybody of the burden that is my existence, and doing people and the world a favour.
There’s light somewhere. And it will chase away the darkness. I just haven’t found it yet.