On September 2, 2014, I chose to die.
This post is about that day. It’s dark, and disturbing and it ends with hope. Please read, but be prepared to be unsettled and, maybe, uplifted. Remember, it’s ultimately a tale of survival.
A couple of days prior to September 2, I’d gone through my apartment gathering all the pills – mostly over the counter medications – I could find. I stopped counting once I reached a fatal dose yet I continued to gather. Now I opened an app on my KoboARC and left a note for my son and my family. I scribbled another note to my son in an old notebook and left it in front of my living-room chair. I poured myself a small glass of water. Then I went to bed, lay back and, with deliberation, swallowed each pill with a small sip of water until there were none left. I closed my eyes and drifted into oblivion.
At some point over the prior months and years, my mind, for so long my strongest asset, had become my worst enemy. I was engaged in an endless war against myself, one that had inexorably crushed all conception of self and brought me to a point of complete abdication.
I couldn’t understand why I was so despondent, so lethargic, so lacking in anything. I beat myself up mercilessly, castigating myself with the vilest and most repugnant epithets I could hurl, all in an effort to elicit some response, to shock and shame myself into action. When this didn’t work, the self-loathing grew culminating in a never-ending spiral of self-denigration within an ever closing world of utter Black. And I was in very real mental and physical pain.
More than anything else, shame kept me from reaching out for help. After all, there wasn’t anything truly wrong with me. It was all in my head. All I had to do was figure out what caused my low mood and everything would be okay. So I persisted in endless rumination, checking and re-checking every facet of my life, looking for that cause.
And I failed, again and again, and again. And with each failure, the self-abuse, and the pain would grow.
By September 2, my personal world had shrunk to the Black space that my mind had become. This Black that imprisoned my mind and destroyed my sense of self expanded while my perception of, and interaction with, the world became more and more limited. Physically, and especially mentally, I became fatigued and came to live in a state that was beyond numb. I was in pain, yet there was no physical cause.
My mind had become such a poison to me, had exhausted me so much, that the permanent rest offered by Death – oh how seductive that possibility of permanent peace is when all is Black – was welcome. Better to die than to exist like this. I existed, I didn’t Live.
No. That is too simple. There was no analysis, no forethought. There was nothing more than desperation, an urgency to make it all stop, to make it all go away. The seductiveness of Death appealed, not because I thought it through, but because it was an act, and any act had been beyond me for so long. My mind was so Black by then, Death seemed natural. I’d convinced myself I was worthless, and suicide is an expression of this worthlessness. But most of all, I just wanted the pain to end.
The notes I left were apologies, but, I wasn’t apologizing for killing myself. I was apologizing for being so worthless, for letting down my son by not being the dad he deserved, for letting down my family by not fulfilling the hopes they had for me. Someone so worthless, so filled with Black, so lacking in Life, so filled with self-loathing, had nothing to offer anyone.
I survived. Not by choice but by chance. My salvation is that I seized this chance and sought a means to recover and regain self-worth. This blog, this letter to my son, is about this recovery.
And recovery requires a raw honesty. I tried to kill myself. I hurt my son and my family. I have a mood disorder – Major Depressive Disorder. I suffer from and through depressive episodes. I will always suffer be at risk. I caused my downfall. Now I’m causing my recovery. This I promise to myself, my son and my family.