Suicide Doesn’t Seem Selfish To Me

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.

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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.

I’m Sorry. To My Friends, Family, and Self.

I’m sorry to have confused you for so long. For not eating in front of you, then binging on chocolate at sleepovers, appearing normal, and immediately returning to that desolate place of starvation. I’m sorry I never said my anorexia was binge/purge sub-type, because then it would have made more sense. I’m sorry for the times I broke down in shopping centres and cafes, for refusing to eat around others, and for denying invitations to social situations, so that I could deny myself and my body of nutrients, and keep the cycle of social isolation alive. I’m sorry for the times I snapped, the words I spat, and the sarcasm that I wielded like a weapon. When my safety and sanity were taken away, those harsh words were the only weapon I had left.

I’m sorry for lying to you. About anorexia, about my weight, about my eating and exercise habits. About being bullied and the emotional trauma I suffered because of it. About the neglect and invalidation I felt in your company, and the pain this caused me. The panic I felt when I so much as thought of telling you any of it, to relieve the tension on my own mind and heart if nothing else. The constant reassurance I had to seek about my size and shape. I’m sorry for the punishment I felt I so strongly deserved, no matter how many times you told me I was worthy and deserving. Of food, of life, of friendship and laughter and good things. I’m sorry that it took me so, so many years to relieve that burden by sharing it with you. I’m sorry it took me so long to see how sick I really was, and the steps I would have to take to get better. I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, to you, to God, to professionals who could help me. I’m sorry I didn’t see the worth in draining my bank account to hold a conversation through tears for an hour. I’m sorry I can’t speak about these things in person, but am able to bare my soul through words on the internet instead.

I’m sorry for all of it, to all of you.

But I’m also sorry to my body. For depriving you, berating you, sustaining you on the bare minimum when you needed so much more. For seeing menstruation and puberty and all the normal signs of healthy growth as mistakes and failures that needed to be squashed. For all the times I hurt myself after losing control to binge urges, when you were just incredibly hungry. I’m sorry for scarring you, when you were just starving.

Dear body, I hope we can be friends. I hope we can enjoy milkshakes together. Chocolate. Cheese. Medjool dates. All those things you’ve been deprived of but desperately need to satisfy those intensely deep psychological and nutritional cravings. I’m sorry that I lied over and over again about the damage I was causing you. For always answering ‘no’ when asked if I had ever thought about starving myself from countless professionals, but never the right ones, never in the right tone, never at the right time. I’m sorry that they never saw through the lies, and saw how sick we had become. For seeing an admission to hospital as a threat to be avoided at all costs, when I was just a terrified fourteen year old, and an admission was exactly what we both needed. About the years following, where I didn’t let us deteriorate further, but we didn’t exactly make any positive progress either. About the dizziness and fatigue. About my weight. About attempting weight restoration by myself because I was overwhelmed by fear. About the spiral of control I thought I was keeping together but losing a fighting battle to.

To my body: I’m sorry. I miss you.

Can we be friends?

These Are Not Flotsam and Jetsam Thoughts – A Poem

These are not flotsam and jetsam thoughts,

they do not ebb and flow,

they are as constant as the stars and the universe,

expanding and contracting like the breath.

Tides cannot be turned off, and neither can the tsunami

of negativity that swamps me surreptitiously.

Caress me Death, I welcome thee,

with open arms and a closed mind,

and deadened heart heavy and blackened

in the precipice of my chest.

Where are your bones, stupid girl?

Where are your bones

she cried.

Dare you laugh off these things I say?

You think they are in passing, but they ring true.

Take them as seriously as the sun,

for they burn just as strongly, and blister just as badly.

Blacken my soul, lest it be grey, static:

the unknown between tints and shades and colours.

Along the border is where I rest, the boundaries,

the invisible between love and hatred,

the numb and the empty – the Border Line.

Fill me with your kiss, tickle me with your scythe,

then take me away,

far away, beyond the separation anxiety

of the trio of selves I carry inside.

Do not go gentle? That saying is fucked.

There is no such thing as tomorrow;

only the continuity of flotsam,

and the fluidity of jetsam.