Free Write: Right To Life

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh



I’ve never tried to kill myself. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never wanted to. It only means that I’ve never tried to actively kill myself. The first time I was hospitalized in October of 2004, I was hospitalized for severe passive suicidality. In layman’s terms, that means that I lost the will to live. I didn’t have the heart to actually swallow pills or slice wrists or dangle from ceiling. I simply gave up. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I stopped bathing. I stopped brushing my teeth. I stopped getting dressed. After days of being awake and crying and wandering the streets of New York, I would pass out from sheer exhaustion and 20 minutes to an hour later, wake up often on the floor of my Brooklyn bedroom with disappointment slapping me in the face.  I was doing life wrong and I didn’t know how to fix it. I just wanted a do over. I wanted my friends and family to stop worrying about me. I wanted to stop being a failure and a loser and someone who couldn’t get it together.

I didn’t want to wake up. I thought it was better that way.

I know it wasn’t but I didn’t have the space or the tools or the presence of mind to think otherwise. It took about a week of hospitalization and new medication combos and literally being forced out of bed and out of my own head every day to spark a turn around. Even then, it wasnt’ about me.

I read a lot about people who don’t “understand” suicide. What’s there not to understand? Depression is a fungus that attacks your will to live. You want to escape it. You want to be out of its reach. I’m not advocating it by any stretch of the imagination but I think the first step in helping those who are depressed and who justifiably believe that suicide is the only way out, is to acknowledge and accept how real that line of thinking is. Saying, ‘life is wonderful” to someone who has evidence to the contrary is not going to help. It’s as delusional as depression and mental illness themselves. Saying, “Suicide is a sin.  You will go to hell.” is also not going to help someone who feels as though they’re life is already a living hell.  As difficult as it sounds, as awful as it feels, you have to acknowledge how real the feelings are. how seductive. how easy. How much sense it makes given what it feels like to live. You have to say, “I understand what this feels like. I understand why you would feel this is the best thing for you. I”m here to tell you that it’s not the only way. It’s going to take a shit ton of work. It’s going to take massive amounts of will and I know your tired but you won’t always be.” You have to start by acknowledging that the feelings are real. Trying to convince someone that they aren’t will only make them feel more like an outcast. When you feel like waking up and getting dressed and leaving the house is the easiest thing in the world to do but you can’t seem to convince yourself that it’s worth it. I know what it feels like to open  your eyes to morning and wish you didn’t see it. It feels like you’re doing the whole thing wrong. Everything. Breathing. Heart beating out of time. Organs doing everything but what they were designed to do.  Everything feels uncomfortable and wrong.

What helped me wasn’t me. I didn’t feel worth it so I had to focus on other things and other people to help pull me out. I might not want to live but my sister does. My roommate did. My father does. My doctors do. I need to live to see Love, Actually come out on DVD. I need to live to see Michael Jackson make a comeback. I need to live to see my favorite designers fall line. I made a list of all the things that I wanted to live to see. These things were outside of me until I Had the strength and the heart to find the life inside of me.

I’m not a doctor. I’m a person who has stared at a bottle of pills and wondered if sleep would become permanent.  I know what helped me and I know what didn’t help me.

I can’t begin to understand what Siwe was going through. I tried. I wanted to. I felt like I could relate to some of it but I also know that that little girl was holding more on her small shoulders than anyone should ever have to. Her triggers were enough to make me murder those involved. I wanted her to live in a bubble. Just her and her music and her writing and no one else. But we couldnt’ do that. She needed to feel what she felt and be surrounded by the tools necessary to catch her eye when she had the strength to look up. Yesterday, I said, that she “lost her battle” with depression. I’m not sure how I feel about that terminology. It works as far as words go but it’s missing something. Siwe was a soldier. Her commitment to help others through the pain she lived through every day should be commended. She deserves a purple heart. She was a soldier. This was a war. She didn’t lose. I can’t make that make sense but I know what I”m trying to say.

Suicide is always about the people left behind. Dionne said on the phone, “I’m glad she’s at peace.” and shit, so am I. There’s no reason for anyone to live through that much hurt and pain. We put animals down for less.  There are so many different ways to help. Siwe couldn’t be saved but thanks to her courage and encouragement. Thanks to her bravery and her transparency. Thanks to her heart and her spirit, she can and will help millions of young women like her.

I will see to it.