A blogger I follow, a fellow sufferer of mental illness, made a post today asking of those who had wanted to commit suicide, “why didn’t they?” There were so many things I wanted to say to her, so many answers, too many answers, and yet every one of them true. And then, as if from nowhere, I remembered one of the major reasons, the mentality shift that helped me turn things around after my suicide attempt, over a decade ago now. I hadn’t forgotten it, exactly. It was more that over the years I have hoarded reasons to keep getting back up and continuing the fight, refusing to let any small spark of a reason float by me untouched, collecting and gathering them as if preparing for a long winter. In the process, some of the older reasons faded and became less noticeable, less likely to jump into my mind.
I am sharing my comment, or at least the majority of it, with only minor editing, as it’s own post here, because I am never going to stop hoarding reasons to keep living, and I don’t want this one to fade into obscurity for me again. It was powerful enough to change my course once before, and that’s worth hanging onto.
Why didn’t I kill myself, on one or any of the many times I have wanted to?
The real root of it? I have a huge zest for life, even if a lot of people around me don’t see it because of my cloak of mental illness +2 (Sorry, dnd joke). I passionately want to live. And here’s how/when I knew that the first time. It was about 6 months after my suicide attempt. Things were still really bad for me, circumstantially, emotionally, mentally… you name it. I wasn’t actively suicidal at the time, but I somehow was passively suicidal… entertaining the thoughts when they came instead of banishing them, because things were so rough. I figured that, eventually, no matter how hard I fought, in the end, I would lose this war with myself and end it. What did it matter if it was tomorrow or in 60 years?
Then I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that, despite it’s ridiculousness or impossibility, you somehow completely believe is true and real while you are having it. In my dream I was in a space ship that had been attacked, and the hull was breached, I tried to hold onto something but I was sucked out into the cold vacuum of space. I was holding my last lungful of air in my lungs, and I could feel it, burning, trying to escape. I felt darkness and sleep beckoning me, taunting me with how easy it would be to just exhale. Rescue was impossible, so why not, right? It was going to end in a matter of seconds, why fight so hard for each one when the end result would be the same?
I felt and thought all of these things, and I felt myself fighting it with every cell of my body, trying to go on living through a sheer force of will. Every bit of energy that I had, I poured into prolonging life for just one more second. And then just one after that. I was fighting so hard for this thing that shouldn’t have meant anything. What is to be gained by extending one’s life by 4 seconds, especially when it was taking every bit of my will, in the process? Why did I keep fighting, instead of giving into that beckoning darkness?
I awoke, still holding my breath, refusing on a nearly cellular to let it go for several moments, as it sank in that it had just been a dream. I finally exhaled, and I realized the voracity and desperation I had felt in the dream, the fight to stay alive, was apparently still kicking, deep down in me somewhere, even in the depths of my depression and mental fog. Even if I didn’t have the energy to get out of my bed, even if I was crying in shame and cutting myself, there was still, somewhere in my subconscious, this incredible fighter who was like a force of nature, battling against the end, no matter how futile.
And I knew that I wanted to live, somehow far more than I hated the pain of living.
I hope that this helps you in some way.
And I hope that it might help the rest of you as well, and hopefully “Future Me” too.