Against Suicide

It is important to understand depression. Both the temporary depression that results from common life events, and the clinical depression or Major Depression Disorder as it is now called.

It is important to understand that within the gauzy haze of MDD, suicidal thoughts become a kind of white noise. It becomes the birds chirping and the car horns honking of the mind.

It is brutal. It's as though suicide wakes up with you in the morning and stares you down over your breakfast. It sits next to you on the bus. It gets in the passenger seat of your car. It haunts you. Taunts you. Trips you.

These feelings of worthlessness dig deep into your chest, piercing your lungs and stealing the breath you would need to ask for help. For comfort.

Depression leaves you wondering why. Why are you even alive? Beyond the existential "What is my purpose?" it tells you "it would be better if you weren't here." It convinces you that every party is more fun without you. Every day would be brighter without you. Without you.

Imagine the meanest kid you ever knew, hounding you because you were you. Because you are weird. Because you are black. Because you are gay. Because there is something about you that is bad. That hateful, cruel voice, through some awful miracle of brain chemistry has followed you from the school yard and knows everything. Every mistake. Every failure. It will never let anything go.

"Remember when you stole money from your grandmother's purse when you were eight? You piece of shit. Remember when you made your mother cry? You worthless, selfish, piece of garbage? You remember when you failed that exam? Why are you even going to school? You'll never graduate. No one will ever care what you think anyway. You can read all the books you want. You'll still be stupid. Worthless. Waste. Of Air. Why do you even eat food? Food is for people who can actually accomplish something."

That. All day. Everyday. Invading your dreams to yell at you for things you thought you had been forgiven for, or at least things you had hoped were forgotten. Grinding you down. Drooling acidic hate in your ears and making you wish you were dead.

This is the fight of your life. Everyday against a version of yourself that hates you because it knows everything.

And that's what you do. You fight. What choice do you have? You have things to do. More books to read. More TV to watch. Movies to see. Beaches to visit. Cities to see. Statues, parks, flowers and trees.

This is what you have to do. You have to make a list. You have list all the things you would have to say goodbye to, permanently. When you can't write them down anymore, because you can't see through the tears, write some more. Write it all down. You can't let go. And that's good. That's what you fight for.

Sunlight. Snowdays. Racquet ball. Ice Cream. Driving a convertible. Solving a math problem. Those times when you tell a really funny joke your friend can't breath, they're laughing so hard. A baby getting a hearing aid and hearing their mother's voice for the first time. Firefighters. Kids struggling to learn, to grow, to get out, to live life. Kids doing what you did. What you do.


Fight. Remember.

Write it down.


All These Worries

I've been staying in a military barracks since early January.

Everyone there, including me, is an activated reservist. We are all far away from one life and getting into the swing of another.

Lives are funny. You can't just leave. People are on their cell phones into the night, in the cold, checking up on their old lives.

Sincere worry breathing moisture into the air: "When does he start chemo?"

Half joking concern: "If my son has no manners when I get back, you are out of my house."

Resignation: "Just sell my car, you keep yours. We'll deal with the rest when I get back."

And I have no real worries like that.

I think my once concern is becoming a friendly ghost. The internet lets you "stay in touch." You can like things, you can respond to posts. You can write on walls. But you are not there.

It's a funny thing.

An Unfinished Life

I drove out to the county to the house where all my nightmares take place, under gray skies.

It's been like that five days a week. Great grey sheets covering everything like the furniture in a dead man's house.

My sister called me Wednesday before the day I drove to a dead man's house and she was angry. She was angry because I was not coming to the house that she lives and making things happen. Like cleaning, like fixing things. Doing all the things that I do in my own apartment. Doing all things I mostly hadn't been able to do this past semester. But I had to drop everything and do for her what she should be doing for herself.

She had got a new roommate and they had been cleaning. Like you're supposed to do. The house was ashambles. As though it weren't depressing enough that both our parents died there, it was filthy. Grime on everything. All the random things my father refused to throw away, piled high in the garage.

Books that never got read. Broken things that never got fixed. Cinder blocks that never got used to lay a foundation. Jerry rigged everything. Four chainsaws, three of them broken. Axe handles held together with duct tape. Extension chords that had been chopped to pieces after being run over by a lawn mower, rebuilt with solder and more duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Everything used. Everything old.

Everything in that house is broken. I cannot go there without memories haunting me like song lyrics. Without wondering what could have been.

That's it. And that's all. An unfinished life. Like mine. And yet I live. And I have so much work to do.

Miles to go.

Before I sleep.

I try to be happy. I try to think about the future.

Sometimes, it's difficult. For a long time, I've only been sure of death. Not of success. Not of a better tomorrow. Just death. Living in that house taught me entropy. Everything wears away. Breaks. Dies.

That's all I've ever been sure of.

When my father died, the question I got the most was why I was so calm. For the most part very few people saw me respond with anything other than calm acceptance. Dad gave up on life a long time ago. I didn't. I haven't. But it's difficult. I'm not suicidal, but there has been a near constant sadness that weighs in on everything. It's been a constant companion and I'm starting to notice that I'm finding happiness to be unnatural.