Because there is darkness ahead, this text has the Content Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Ideation, Emotional Dysregulation, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.
It is okay to not read this text. If you do venture ahead, know that this text is raw and painful with a glimmer of hope splashed in, and some resources at the very end.
I took a walk tonight, in the dark and rainy British evening. I left the house without my phone, because I was not in the mood to be reached. I did however take my keys and locked the door behind me, out of consideration to indicate that I did indeed have my keys with me, as my partner was about to leave for his night shift.
As I began walking I started to wonder how many times had it been, since that first time when I took the cushioned kitchen chair, old and battered with striped corduroy covering the seat, out to the balcony. When I stepped up on it, looking down from the 8th floor, myself being only 12 years old… How many times have I not killed myself?
Can we even consider not doing something an achievement? If this was a game, would it be an achievement equal to a no hit run? Is it the equivalent to a pacifist run? If I didn’t harm myself significantly, am I a better suicidal-person than the people who took a knife to their wrists, jumped in front of a train, drank themselves to death or swallowed a bottle of pills?
Or am I just an invisible suicidal person because I’m not in any statistics because I never actually tried to kill myself? Or was I registered as a possible attempted suicide that time when I ran away from my mom’s car in the dead of winter, threw my backpack out on the ice of the frozen-over river and wrote a throw-away text to my mom that I should throw myself in as well, to which she called the police to come find me? At least there was only so many rivers (one) in town, and there was only so many places I could go from the bus station.
In this particular case, it’s more probable that I’m not a statistic, because my mom worked together with the social worker that showed up at the police station, who said something to the effect of “I wont tell anyone at work about this”, like my mom needed to be ashamed of me running away in the dead of winter.
How many brushes with death had I avoided, since I was old enough to make angry decisions and run away? Me thinking that the first time I wanted to die was at 12 is probably just wishful-thinking. I’ve been trying to throw myself out of cars, since long before 12, because I had to get out of the situation and there’s not many options when you’re in a moving car on a country road, and have you no say in if the car moves or not. If you gotta go you gotta go. I do not remember how old I was the first time I opened the door while the car was going, but I do remember who was in the car with me. And I know for certain that the first time I opened it was not the first time I wanted to. It was only the first time I was prepared for the consequences. At the time I found it most infuriating that as soon as the person driving heard the door open they stopped the car. I can’t end this if you stop the car when I’m trying to throw myself out of it! Have you no manners?
All the while, someone can write and direct a scene with that without having ever done it, and it will hit home with a huge crowd. I really should sit down and watch Lady Bird at some point. I guess we write what we know, even if we don’t. I never threw myself out of a car with any success, so I wouldn’t call it hypocritical, that would make me the hypocrite. I do believe that she took a lot of emotions from her youth and poured it into that script, to great critical success, I might add. Even though she lightheartedly laughs about it in the interview, it’s probably just nerves.
Is it possible that I am coping with my current overflow of emotions by writing instead of killing myself? Yes, but also, not quite. I feel like I’m just at a point in my life where, even though everything inside of me is screaming that I should kill myself, and it’s probably for the best, I mean look at you you can’t live up to this capitalist hellscape’s standards and you never will, so why should you even be alive?, I have so much practice in that I know how to make not killing myself an active choice by now. It’s tonight’s activity, just like game night.
Oh yeah, I should respond to my partners text, to tell him I came back home alright. I came home, but I wasn’t alright, so I didn’t reply. I guess that’s unfair to him. Okay, that’s handled.
And I guess, I should probably check that place on social media where I’ve been spewing dark suicidal jokes for a good while, without any real response or check ins.
Even though it was true in the moment I wrote it, earlier in the evening,
“I’m okay, I’m safe, don’t worry about me I just needed to vent. I will not kill myself, and if the urge is too great I know who to call (not anyone I know, but rather some emergency mental health services)”
moments later it wasn’t true anymore, because everything changed in a mere second.
Nope, no interactions on the algorithm-free social media network. Probably, because I properly CWd (added Content Warnings) and labeled everything so no one had to see that absolute pile of shit on their feed, unless they wanted to. A feature I’m simultaneously thankful for, but also kind of saddened by. That said, if I had posted the same thing on Facebook, wait Facebook was down so no one would’ve seen it either way. Let’s get back on track, where were we? Oh yes, suicidal “game” nights.
During my walk in the rain, I began thinking about GNU/Natalie Nguyen, a young Vietnamese/American trans girl, and about the night almost exactly 4 years ago (minus 1 month) when she killed herself. She was at a party with friends, and had what seemed to everyone a great night. A loving night with people who loved, cherished and supported her. She told them that she went out for a walk, and then she posted to let us know in our online community that she was sorry and that she couldn’t do it anymore.
That was the last any of us heard from her. This was traumatic for so many reasons, and it wasn’t going to be the first suicide among us, but it was the first that stirred up a huge part of the place we called home. A place we felt safe in. A place where we thought we were able to protect each other from the outside world. Many among us tried to reach out and let her know that we were there, even the people who had just moments earlier been with her in the same physical space. They could not reach her anymore. We all watched their tearful pleas for her to come back, for her to just let them know where she was.
Just like I walked out the door tonight, she had just walked out the door. Our reasons weren’t the same, and our lives weren’t the same, I’m not even going to pretend that our lives were anything alike, but that feeling inside of us to just get out… I think that deep need to escape was the same, and if not it was at least similar.
When I left the house tonight, it wasn’t unprompted, and I wasn’t just going for an evening walk, but I also knew that I wasn’t going out to kill myself. Even though the walk itself, while trying to make sure I did not fall for any of the urges to throw myself in front of a moving vehicle or just keep walking until my feet bled, most definite felt like playing life on hardmode. Like Dude, have you even played Life on HardMode if you haven’t actively tried to NOT kill yourself while out walking on a dark rainy evening? No, my evening had, all things considered been great. I had just been to a fantastic (online) party for a friend who just launched their new book.
I had however arrived late to this party, because instead of getting dinner ready in time, I had to sit down to write a letter to rein in my emotions, emotions that I can only explain as a severe case of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) to things I will not get into here. The letter had started as one thing, I’m not sure what, and I wrote it in a compose window in my email, so I must have intended to send it to someone. It soon warped into something else, something much more painful: A letter to my partner. Saying goodbye.
In what I can only call a cruel twist of irony, I realized that I had just written a suicide letter. To be more precise, I had written a suicide letter in order to not kill myself. Tonight I had used my years of experiences, and the countless number of practice opportunities which had honed my skill at not killing myself. So, I proceeded to pour everything I was feeling into this letter, because I did not want to kill myself, because I did not want to just run away and never come back. Even though my insides were screaming at me, at the top of their lungs, that I should do just that. Screaming at me that no one cares about me, and several horrible things about my relationship with my partner (I’m sure we all know how these internal monologues go), I kept writing until I felt ready to get started with dinner, and join my friend’s party!
I quipped about it online, and no one responded to it. To be fair, I did post it only to my little corner of this particular sphere of the internet, and also only to people who follow me, which is an even smaller subset of people. It was hidden behind proper content/trigger warnings, so if no one wanted to see it they didn’t have to. I’m sure it was filtered by some people too for mentioning suicide. So, let me be vulnerable for a moment:
I put on my mask, and continued to enjoy my evening with my friends and I had a great time. I guess it’s a dichotomy, something we don’t talk about. We can have a sincere, genuine and fantastical evening with friends where we’re happy, and feel safe, while also dealing with a lot of inner turmoil. While I was masking, I was also being there for my friend on their big night, which was as important to myself as it was to them. I do fear that when they read this, they’ll be horrified. I couldn’t title this with all the people who shouldn’t read it, so I’m sorry if you are reading this. I need you to know this: That hour I spent with you and the others wasn’t about me, it was about you and your fantastic book, and the incredible world you have crafted. And it was a pleasure to be there.
After that hour with friends, old and new, I felt okay. I felt much better and calmer. Not as serene as I do today (this part is being written the following day). I thought I had everything reined in, and under control. All I had managed to do was to calm myself down enough to cook dinner, and distract myself with a fantastical game with fantastic friends, and just watch everyone happily interact with each other. Distractions are good and healthy. They can be helpful, and they can keep us alive.
Before long, another thing hit me, and it hit me hard. It was like a truck of emotions came out of nowhere, and just slammed into me. My RSD interpreted the trigger as the most horrific betrayal, disregard and just plain neglect. I was mad. I wanted payback. I wanted to scream. I wanted to smash my plates, the plates that I treasure so much because to me they are a symbol of my first true independence. I wanted to destroy them. I felt trapped, and I felt, I guess knew, that I had to keep calm and carry on. Like I always do.
Except, as I have just described, I didn’t want to keep calm. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let myself get any of these emotions out. That’s when I just put on my hoodie and walked out the house, without my phone. Because at least this way I could walk off some of it. And maybe scream into the dark void which is the outdoors in the early fall evening, in England.
We are back to where we began, the beginning of this story, but not the end of my story. I think it could have been an end. There has been many times in my life that could have been my last, both intentional and unintentional. And that’s okay.
I can’t tell you how to learn to “manage” these feelings of overwhelm. The feelings that will rush over you, like a wave, as if with the intent to crush you against the cliff-face. I can’t tell you how to get there, how to survive the next wave. I only want to remind you that you can. Even after the darkest night, the sun will rise again. It may rise to orange ominous clouds, or it may just rise to another overcast day, especially here in England, that will be just as boring as the days before it.
I think, the greatest lesson I ever learnt was to see tears as a release valve, of pressure building up inside. A release of stress. Stress can be caused by a lot of things, and if we do not flush it out of our system (metaphor, please don’t try to cleanse yourself of toxins) it can cause severe damage. I was tempted to say irreparable damage, but I shall refrain. Because while it may seem irreparable, that may just be because we need to build something completely new. If you are in a position where you are unable to cry, remember that that’s okay too. There are other ways to find release, that aren’t the ones everyone else around you will wish you hadn’t done.
In your hour of need, remember that you have survived everything thrown at you up until today, and you can, heck, you will survive again. Know your outs, your emergency exit, your emergency contacts. Be it a friend who has promised that you can call them whenever, be it your National Suicide Hotline, the Samaritans (thank you, Erik), for you to walk into the ER/A&E, or whatever is available to you where you live.
Even when all else fails, just allow yourself to keep crying, and cry yourself to exhaustion, watch your favorite movie on repeat, and either fall asleep or have something to eat. And remember, maybe tomorrow will be better.
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