Tough week if you’re in the Suicide Prevention Business.
Kate Spade… Anthony Bourdain — and those are just the famous suicides. I bet there are ‘a few more’ suicides out there — you’ve just never heard the names before.
After Donald Trump was ‘elected’ (he was not elected — you don’t get to literally STEAL an election and call yourself ‘elected’ but — another conversation), the Therapy Business boomed. So did the Suicide Prevention Business.
My own Therapist told me that.
Three days before Christmas 2016, I knew sat in a exam room at my doctor’s office facing TWO doctors — mine and the office’s ‘Head Doctor’. The Boss Doctor.
They had already asked me TWICE if I thought I should be hospitalized because I so desperately wanted to harm myself.
By the third time, I think they really meant it. I guess that’s why they asked a THIRD TIME…
I swore to my increasingly alarmed GPs that I wasn’t going to hurt myself three days before Christmas (my plan was to harm ME, not Christmas for my family forever).
I was there, I said, because I wanted to take a ‘stab’ at medication (I did make that very bad joke on the day; I may have been miserable but I could still make a bad joke). The depression that was consuming me was ten years in the making (longer actually, much longer – built on events and episodes from the past that I thought were unrelated to my present and future. Like Rick going to Casablanca for the waters – ‘I was misinformed’.
Medication was my ‘Niagara Falls’ (if you know that old Three Stooges sketch). It was The Thing I feared almost as much as the depression itself (now that I knew enough to fear it). As much as I wanted to lift the darkness that was consuming me, I was even more worried what would happen if whatever medication I took impacted my manic side – my creativity.
My therapist and a County Psychiatrist had diagnosed me as Manic Depressive – Bi-Polar with strong episodes of hyper-mania; as depressed as I was, I still sat down to work, every day, regardless of whether I actually had work to do.
Deep, dark mental health issues were not me. That was what I absolutely believed about myself.
Sure, I was unhappy about things. We were losing our house. I hadn’t really worked in 8 years (of course I WORKED – I just didn’t get paid for most of my work or wasn’t paid what had been promised and agreed to) – the result of a variety of factors, some in my control (and therefore my fault), some not. Financial problems – with interludes of thinking we were ‘saved’ because the ‘bank’ had let us refinance the house yet again… Saved? Doomed even more completely than before was more like it.
And doomed was exactly how I had been feeling. And it made me angry – at the world but much, much more at myself. Financial ruin sucked. But it wasn’t the lack of money, really, that was causing me to rage.
It wasn’t ‘lack of money’ that made me explode because I dropped something or missed a freeway exit. Or throw my tennis racket like a petulant 10-year-old. My immediate circumstances weren’t the real cause of my self-loathing – rather, my self-loathing had taken me to a place where I was completely at the mercy of my immediate circumstances.
I had stopped acting on things and had spent nearly a decade reacting instead.
Worst of all – I had come to believe that I had run out of stories to tell. My own story was uninteresting and my capacity to tell other peoples’ stories seemed (to me) to have run its course.
My family, I had convinced myself, would really be better off without me. There was insurance money. A lot. In time, I told myself, money would smooth over everything. In time, I told myself, they might even forgive me enough to actually enjoy the money…
I began thinking of how I might do it. I needed to be sensitive to my family (imagine!) I didn’t want to leave a bloody mess in the house. I didn’t want to be found anywhere really. I wanted to disappear. Get in my car maybe and drive into the desert until I ran out of gas. Then walk until I couldn’t walk any more… then sit… then wait for what was coming to me… what I deserved…
And, I told myself, I could do this – vanish from the lives of my wife, kids, family, community – and do it with a bare minimum of disruption. Why, it’d be a ‘piffle’. A wrinkle easily ironed. A cinch.
It was bullshit of course. Absolute bullshit. Not an iota of Truth to it.
To kill yourself is to LITERALLY ‘Bullshit Yourself To Death’.
Not pretty. But True.
We have a collective disease. We have allowed BULLSHIT to become like oxygen to us. Like Food & Drink.
And Bullshit CAN be fatal.
But YOU cannot cure someone else of THEIR bullshit. You can only cure yourself. And that’s where it has to start. We all are responsible for recognizing and dealing with our own Bullshit first (before dealing with other peoples’ bullshit).
It’s a hard addiction to break. The evilest monkey you’ll ever get off your back. But doing it is essential — and NOT just for those whose bullshit has them on the brink of self destruction.