Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Middle Age Suicide, Don't Do It

"I mean, you haven't been thinking about, like, suicide or anything have you?" Todd asks as we talk about my depression and it takes me by surprise, his sudden insight into my psyche. His swift entrance into the dark place. Do I let him go there? Do I take him with me into that weird little world? Will he turn away in fear or disgust in the face of all that I really am?

There I envision myself laying in a field of wildflowers on a warm day, feeling the sun hot on my face for the last time. The blue sky hovers above me like a coffin lid. Birds chirp - a funeral hymn. It is all lovely the way a dying should be. I have a baggie full of blue pills in my left hand. It is hot with sweat because I have held it so tightly in my fist. They are sweet little harbingers of death, my escape. They are the jump over the wall. They are the tunnel away from feeling, terrible feeling. I take a pill out of the baggie. It is a pretty thing. Baby blue just like my last sky. Nothing is sacred anymore. And yet everything is.

Right before you die, I imagine the world suddenly looks changed, like an old friend you hadn't seen in years. You meet up, have a nostalgic moment. You remember when it mattered and it's glorious and you somehow make it so much better in your mind than it ever really was in actuality. Then the moment arrives when you have to admit that there is nothing left to be said. Your coffee is cold. Your mood is sour. There is nothing left to be done. That is the way it is when you die. Goodbye. The pills are hot. They bleed their blue on my fingers as I touch them. One by one. Not too slow. Not too fast. I find my rhythm. And then, sweetly, I die. It's like fading and twilight and in-between. Hazy brain. First you are laying in a field of wildflowers and then you are a field of wildflowers. That is my death. And it is forever. How do you like it?

"Ok...I've had some thoughts about killing myself lately. But, seriously, I'm not suicidal. There's a huge difference."

"Jesus, Gwen, if you're thinking about killing yourself then you are suicidal. Maybe you need to...go somewhere for a while. Like a loony bin or something."

"Jesus Christ, Todd, stop. Just stop..." I'm laughing at the discomfort of it all.

"What? Honestly, only seriously disturbed people think about that shit....people fucked in the head."

"Well then I'm fucked in the head. Your wife is fucking fucked in the fucking head."

I want him to punch me in the face. Or spit and curse at me. I want him to look at me with disgust and then turn away and hate me forever for saying the bad thing that nobody wants to ever hear. Because that's what it is: The Bad Thing. It is dark and it's all I know right now. It is all I can think about. I am, like, fucking obsessed with these scenarios. I can't help it. There is a loop in my brain. The end of me.

And it's selfish. God, it's fucking selfish. I am a despicable person to harbor these ideas, these morbid fantasies. I deserve to have the shit kicked out of me. I deserve to be called vicious names. I deserve to be laughed at until I cry. I deserve to be locked in a room and starved until my stomach bloats and my lips crack and my heart gives out. I deserve to have some sense shaken into me. I deserve to be told a monstrous lie. I deserve to be destitute and alone. I deserve any nastiness Todd is capable of sending my way. I expect it. I set up the blows and eagerly wait for them to fall.

But then something else happens.

"Please don't do that. I love you. Please don't ever do that." And he hugs me very tight. "I'm here for you no matter what. If you're sick, we'll deal with it. We'll make you better."

I know I don't deserve that love. I've done nothing to earn it. I've attempted to destroy it with my twisted thoughts and my raw, unravelling emotions. And yet...I have it. Unconditional, undeniable. Why can't I just be happy? Why can't I just be grateful for the beautiful life I've been handed, this beautiful man, this precious child? Something is awry in my cognition. Something is broken in here.

As we sit down to watch TV together, Todd jokes about his crazy wife. We laugh about the prospect of committing me. It is funny, too, when you really stop to think about it. All we've been through already. This is just a "drop of water in an endless sea."

I need to work out my thoughts on death. I think my obsession may have a lot to do with my fear of it, perhaps a deep-seated wish to control it. I want death to be my bitch, not my master. And what's weird is that this is exactly what I did with food years ago. I was so afraid of it, this innocent substance. I was so fearful of its mystical powers, its hidden agendas, how it could hurt me in a thousand ways. The only way I could quell my fears was to control the food, to become its master. And then it happened that the food started to control me, and I coudn't get out from under its terrible yoke. I hate food. I hate death. I hate me.

But somebody doesn't hate me. He is sleeping peacefully. I love to listen to his soft breathing in the long sleepless nights. I don't deserve an ounce of his love. But I have it anyway. I'm going to enjoy the moment. Fold into it the way I used to do back when I wasn't made wrong from top to bottom, when I wasn't all twisted up inside.

God, let me have it. Please let me have it.


  1. I do not know you very well, but I will say that from where I am standing, you do deserve that love and support you're getting from your husband.

    I'm not going to armchair psycho-analyze you or anything, but maybe you're telling yourself you don't deserve his love so you can justify how you feel about dying? Or maybe the fact that he loves you makes it more difficult to want to die, so you explain it away as something you don't deserve?

    I cannot help but feel like these two facts are inextricably linked.

  2. You deserve every single tiny bit of it.

  3. I'm glad you told Todd. Having someone on-board with what you're going through is huge.

  4. I get this, friend. Christ. It's something I've accepted: no, I don't want to fall, it doesn't matter how much I deserve it, I fucking refuse. No. I will not go over.

    I feel like I'm cheating. I'm still here, and then Someone's going to find out, and I'm going to get in TROU.BLE. for being a gutless waste, and a scaredy cat to boot.

    So instead I strut around and pretend I'm brave. The thing about that is after pretending to be brave for ten years, I've gotten really fucking brave. So the thing I fear most is, well, me.

    Oh, do I ever I get this, friend.

  5. 1. You absolutely deserve it.

    2. Yes, it is good you told Todd. If you are feeling this way, perceiving things wrong, you need someone outside yourself to help you see what's real and what's not.

    3. If you don't dig the therapist, find another. You know based on your food issues how much better it is after treatment. I don't think those big issues ever go away entirely but perspective is a beautiful thing.

    4. You made mention of not taking drugs, antidepressant? You know yourself best but I can say from experience that for me they quelled the "loop" you speak of. I wasn't looping suicide but I had the loop of you're shit, you're not doing it right, you aren't handling stuff people handle every day, why can't you get it together.... It took an antidepressant, Wellbutrin in my case, to quiet things enough that I could make some forward prgress. I initially felt so defeated to have to go on it but it made me feel like myself again. I didn't gain weight, I didn't lose my sex drive and I didn't stop feeling. I just stopped t he 6 hour crying jags:) Just my 2 cents.

    Good luck Gwen.

  6. Why don't you deserve it?

    Everybody deserves love.

  7. why can't I just be happy?Huge question. I've spent years trying to answer it. It's partially our pasts, and partially our obsessive need to be good enough, and partially the shit that happened to us. I have learned in my life that happiness is a habit, and you have to cultivate it in the little things when that's all you've got to hold onto, those tenuous connections to life.

    Find the little things that make you happy. Focus on them, every single day, every single time you encounter them. Cherish them. They're the strands we hold on to that keep us wanting to live when we are drowning in pain. And I think you have a lot of them, so you have to will yourself to see them.

  8. i wish i had the perfect words of support for you. but know that you have a good one there, loving you.

  9. "Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever. Must have been shattering. Stamped into one's memory. And yet, I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it. Before we know that there are words. Out we come, bloodied and squawling, with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction. And time is its only measure." - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    I understand the fear of death, the compulsion to control it.

    But we're all dying. And we have no control over that.

    We only have this one moment - just this one right now. There is no promise of any more to come. And I've learned that the only way to defy death is to suck every bit of happiness out of every single moment of life.

    You do deserve such love. And I'm happy for you that you have it. Lean on it.

  10. I tell my wife this all the time. That I don't deserve a thing in this life. I'm simply not worthy. It's a hump. And it comes and goes. Up and down. Like the worst ride in the worst amusement park on earth.

  11. You deserve all of it. 100%.

    I <3 you babe!

  12. I hope you guys got the reference in my post title, otherwise I feel like a moron for using it. Heathers is one of my all time favorite movies and thinking about that "Teenage suicide - don't do it" song featured in it always makes me laugh for some twisted reason. Ok, now for individuals:

    Sci Fi Dad - hmmmm. I'm going to have to agree with you on that. I guess it goes with my conscious wish for him to punch me or hurt me in some way. If he says, "I love you, don't leave me" then my dying would be hard. If he hurts me and verifies my feelings of worthlessness, then I can justify doing the thing I want to do. But he didn't do that. So I'm explaining away what he is giving as something undeserved. My therapist told me in session this week that I can justify anything if I try hard enough. It doesn't make it true or rational. Thanks for the comment. I could use all the arm chair psycho analysis I can get. Lord knows I do it to others all the time. I am fascinated by human behavior and thought, including my own.

    Gina - I'm going to try and take your word for it. Thanks for thinking so.

    Pos - Thanks for the comment and the private email. You've helped a lot with your insights.

    Rassles - What you said is what I feel. I am cheating somehow by being alive, I am breathing and taking up space and surely there will be hell to pay for that. It's always unbelievable to me when I hear others say they at times feel worthless too. I feel that way now, considering the great person you with your interesting perspective, brilliant mind, and mad writing skills. I surely cannot fathom how you could ever have felt unworthy of existing. But I know these thoughts and feelings don't emanate from a rational place. I'm so happy that you found your voice and your confidence. The world needs a Rassles like the world needs it's oxygen and water. That's just my opinion, for what it's worth to you.

    Formerly Fun - Thanks for the comment. I was thinking about what you wrote the other day about loving therapy. It surprised me because I feel the opposite. I despise therapy. For me it is a humiliating process. I hate being on that couch, feeling so exposed to a stranger. I know I emotionally expose myself to people all the time on my blog. But it's different when I'm face to face with a person, looking him in the eye. It's embarrassing to be under that kind of scrutiny and not really know what he is thinking about me. Yes, I know that therapy works. I don't think it would work if it wasn't painful. It's supposed to be painful and icky and hard. Even with the right therapist it is all those things. I sort of like the therapist I'm seeing so far. I like that I can say crazy things and he doesn't over-react and start scribbling like mad in his little notepad. I like that he seems genuinely interested in me as a person, asking me to bring some of my writing in for him to look at. I like that he offered to make the calls to the psychiatrists for me when I told him that I was unable to do it myself. So far, so good. The "loop" of negative thoughts is tough. It feels like OCD or something. As for anti-depressants, I've tried them in the past with little success. But I suppose I would be willing to try anything at this point to make the thoughts go the fuck away. So, yeah, thanks for the suggestion. When I see the psychiatrist I'll talk to him/her about it.

  13. Love Bites - You have all this wisdom and yet you are so young :) I see what you mean about little things that bring joy. This morning I had a nice little moment when buying coffee. Just commiserating with the patron in front of me about how they stopped making whole wheat donuts. I don't know. It felt good to have a normal interaction with a stranger after hibernating and avoiding people for so long. I never thought of happiness as being something you have to cultivate, work at. Maybe that's how it just is for some of us. Smiles are hard won. Thanks for the comment. It means a lot to know I'm understood.

    Magpie - those were the perfect words of support. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my bleak post.

    Zen Mom - What an amazing quote. And very relevant to what I'm feeling. Death is inevitable, this I know. I vacillate between fear and desire. For me, right now, suicide is the ultimate control over death. Cognitively it feels like winning to make the choice of when, where, and how. But there is so much collateral damage. It makes me sick to think of that. So for now, I will try to take your advice and suck out what little happiness I can, while I can. Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

    Ty's Daddy - I emailed you privately

    Sarah - Thanks. I <3 you too!

  14. Just so you know, I totally got the Heather's reference. But I couldn't figure out a way to work either "Big Fun" or "My teen angst has a body count" into my comment.

  15. "I need to work out my thoughts on death. I think my obsession may have a lot to do with my fear of it, perhaps a deep-seated wish to control it."

    Control. That's it.

    Death is surrender. The ultimate in powerlessness. Losing control in the most profound way.

    And in your quest to control death, you end up becoming its victim, just like you would if you let go of it. I fear death so much that I want to die. Catch-22.

    Same with love. It's out of our control. You can't earn his love. He has to give it to me, of his own free will. It might go away. Even if I need it. Scary.

    Therefore, better to make do without it. Right?

    I have spun around in this kind of twisted thinking for much of my adult life. I still do. And you escape these circles, not by working hard at it, but abandoning all attempts to do so.

    That's what you say in the paragraphs toward the end of the passage. You're wise.

  16. Gwen--at the risk of sounding shallow, all I can say is I hope you're feeling better today andthat the work you're starting with the therapist is the first step toward helping. Kiss your baby and husband.

  17. WRH - There's a multitude of reasons why I don't deserve it. Too many to list. I don't know if everyone deserves love. Most people do I think.

    Zen Mom - You couldn't find a way to work the words Big Fun in your comment on a post about suicide? Really? :) I'm always saying lines from that movie. "What's your damage?" "lick it up baby, lick it up".

    headbang - Beautifully said. And you really capture the essence of what I'm experiencing, much more succinctly than I ever could. You're right - the answers are in my own head. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  18. Here in Franklin - That is not shallow at all. It's a kind sentiment from a friend (and you are a friend). Thanks so much.

  19. Oh, Gwen. I've felt this way recently too, for the first time in my life.

    I know what it is to feel undeserving.

    I hope you find you really do deserve them. And you deserve to go day to day and not wish you weren't here.

  20. So, if you think about death the same way you did food, you know that by attempting to control it, it controlled you instead. So the same thing would happen? If you try to beat death to the bunch it's only going to beat you.

    On a side note, this post was absolutely fantastic and I admire your writing quite a lot.

  21. I would make lists, Gwen, of everything that happened in the day that made me feel happy in an attempt to balance out the pain. I'd make playlists of songs, and I'd focus on the way the light shines down through the trees, and I'd people watch with my kids, and I'd blog. It seriously helps. And, if I traded smiles with a stranger while I was driving in my car, and they were driving theirs, or had an exchange like you did that made me smile, I counted it.

    You have to find those little moments of joy and cultivate them in your soul. And yeah, happiness is something that I work at. But, it's gotten a lot easier as I've gone on.

    I could never understand the desire to die until 2006, and that was the year that I barely survived. Sometimes it hurt so bad that I would have done anything to make the pain stop because I sure as hell couldn't control it.

  22. Also, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs have gotten significantly better. Effexor seriously saved my life. It's not that it cured me or anything like that, but it made me care less about every negative thing so I could care more about the positives.

    And sometimes, truthfully, because hibernating is in my nature outside of work, I have to force myself to connect, to get out, to go for a walk, to exercise, to play with my kids. I force myself and then I find myself enjoying it.