On suicidal thoughts

This project got put on a back burner for a little while. It feels funny to write even that post title, to admit to all that. But that is what this blog is supposed to be: the one place where I’m honest.

The funny thing about suicidal thoughts is how natural they become. The first time you consider the idea, it comes hesitatingly, a forbidden fruit, something creeping around just outside of consciousness. Before you’ve ever had one, the very idea seems scary – not just the having the thought, but the escalation in the degree of seriousness that it implies. While the psychiatrist may not really differentiate between patients who think about suicide and those who don’t, letting the thought first enter your mind is sort of like losing your virginity: a frightening, thrilling prospect, a defining moment in your life. Once you’ve had one, a whole new world is open and you can never quite go back to who you were before.

The funny thing about all this is how what seems so mysterious and seductive and novel at first comes to take over your life. The hesitant, do-I-dare-entertain-the-possibility of the first time gives way to ennui, much like learning to speak a second language, which you do first haltingly, then with increasing fluidity and ease, until, finally, some of your native vocabulary words come to mind only a split second after the new ones. The first thought, which only could appear fully after a horrible few tragedies in my life slowly became a solution to all the little events of the day that make life unbearable. The death of a friend was the catalyst first allowing me to consider that I might be better off dead. But once that dam was breached, that possibility was opened, it got so much easier for that particular flood of thoughts to appear. The next time, it didn’t take a death, only a breakup. Now, the thoughts are so common that even the minor annoyances of modern living are enough to set them off. Fuck, the car broke down…gotta go to the mechanic and deal with all that. People are so dishonest. Maybe I’ll kill myself. Or: fuck, got yelled at at work. Maybe I’ll kill myself. In a few short years, I went from being afraid to whisper the idea even in my mind to having to fight the urge to do it every day.

At least, that’s how it was for me. I put off having that first thought for a long time, years, maybe, continually telling myself, no, you do not want to go to that place, to open that door. When I finally did, it was something of a relief. All the energy spent trying to convince myself that things weren’t that bad was finally freed.

The thing is, these thoughts are all so damn stubborn, partly because at some point they help you to cope. They’re comforting. They restore a sense of control when the stuff inside your head or heart is spinning wildly through the ether, dragging you with it, tossing your mood around as unpredictably and capriciously as an icy insensate asteroid knocks around the vacuum. With this idea, you make a decision; it is one decision that remains, one thing you can always control. It feels good to know that no matter how bad things are, that somehow, you are choosing them, that there is another option, that you don’t absolutely have to be there. On some level, you are choosing to stay in the game. It gives you the illusion of choice. Thinking about suicide quite often helps you keep on going, offers a semblance of relief for a few moments. Those fantasies feel good.

The problem is, there’s no way to close that particular Pandora’s box. The thoughts become so constant and reflexive that even when you feel ok, the slightest little glitch or upset pops them right back into your head. Even when you are well, the spectre is there. I have no idea what to do about this. It’s like trying to quit smoking or biting your nails.



  1. You put it so perfectly.

  2. I prefer to think of suicide as a means of escape if things ever get as bad as I fear they will. For example, I dont think when im old enough to retire there will BE any pensions, social security, etc. Ill be on my own. To that end I strive to learn survival skills and how to use whats at hand to keep myself going, including psych meds. At some point I wont be able to support myself. and Id rather be dead than be uttery dependent on others.
    So its a quality of life thing. Ill enjoy every minute I can, but I reserve the right to punch my ticket at any time if things get really bad.

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