TW: Suicide, Self harm
Someone told me once, “You taught me to love suicide.”
They went on to clarify that my intense suicidal idealization as a teenager exposed them to the fragility of life and how to face the thought of death without turning away or pretending it didn’t exist. This was a wildly profound thing to be told and obviously it stuck with me.
At the time, I was surprised but I don’t know if I should have been – anyone who knew me well in junior high and high school knew that in addition to the cutting, the eventual smoking and drinking, I always had suicide simmering in a pot on the back burner as an option out of my misery. I was so, so fucking miserable. And if you look at the life I had objectively it might be hard to understand why but then when you look a little further back, to the all-important brain development period of my childhood, it starts to make a little more sense. Man, those neurological pathways got WRECKED, mates.
Now, almost ten years since I graduated high school (y i k e s), I look at that girl and I’m aghast. The only time within the past maybe eight years that I’ve even considered suicide at its most abstract level was when I was going through Serotonin Cessation Syndrome earlier this year. Again, I was so very miserable. Much like when I was a teenager with stupid amounts of hormones, chemicals doing whatever the fuck they want, it was difficult to muster up happiness and not let my thoughts linger on how much easier it would be to just, stop existing. While these thoughts appeared again briefly for the first time in a long time, I knew with great certainty that I would not act out on them. I’m not sure if I will ever reach a point in my life where suicide seems like an option again. It’s hard to imagine, especially since my real issue now is my intense anxiety about not wanting to die. After courting the concept of death for so long, I’m now at the other end of the spectrum and I’m absolutely clinging to life. I’m working on finding something more in the middle so I can stop going, “ah, holy shit, I’m having a stroke!” every time I experience an uncomfortable physical sensation. But that’s a topic for another time.
So what changed? I can’t say I necessarily recommend what I did for everyone but the truth is I tripped balls on LSD.
My first trip was during the spring, when the earth was starting to get nice and toasty. We dropped early in the day so we could experience the glory of a springtime day while tripping. It was pretty fun – I wrapped myself in a sheet, gazed out a window and told my friend that I was the Messiah. We laid on the couches with the windows wide open and it was like we were floating in the sea, our coaches the boats. We grabbed chalk and hit the sidewalk, marveled at the grass, immersed ourselves in the incredible depths of music.
I had some weird romantic stuff going on in my personal life at this time. At one point during this, my fuckbuddy and my boyfriend were at the house at the same time. Them and my mother were all worried about me and when I insisted I needed a Slurpee from Wesco (don’t ask, I couldn’t tell you why), they tried to get me to stay home. So I hopped on my bike and peaced out. In my experience, riding your bike while inebriated is extremely fun but I don’t necessarily condone it. By this point in my trip, it’d been somewhere around 8 and 12 hours after we dosed so I was well past the peak point and pretty functional. No one seemed to believe me but I knew I could handle it. This caused a lot of anxiety for the four people I left behind. Oops. But probably one of my most distinguishing characteristics is my intense desire to be free and as soon as they tried to control where I went, there was no chance I was going to listen. I don’t disagree with them that it was probably dangerous but spoiler alert: I was fine.
As a matter of fact, I was more than fine. Oh, I was so happy. Despite the complications of my life, I was alive! So is the earth! Listening to bird songs, feeling the explosion of flavor from the slushie in my mouth, the warmth of the sun on my skin – what bliss! I pedaled down to a park near my house, barely containing my glee as I coasted down the steep hill. I continued straight onto a peninsula I’d never really noticed before (recalling this now, I think it’s technically reserved for people who have boats in the harbor), eventually getting on foot to walk to the edge of the grassy piece of land. I stood at the edge of that peninsula and wondered how I had lived here for so long, came to this park so many times, yet never seen this spot before. It was breathtaking.
For a long moment, I just breathed. Open mouthed, I gaped at the brilliant blue sky, the streaks of clouds painted across it, the sun beginning to lower to kiss the horizon. I could hear so many bugs, chirping and crying and calling. The water glistened, the billions of tiny ripples cascading across one another in an infinite array of patterns. Tears began to run down my cheeks, hot and unabashed. I’ll never forget exactly what I thought in this moment, gazing at the most beautiful scene I had seen yet in my life.
”I could kill myself right now. I could do it. Put those stones in my pockets and walk out into the water. But if I had killed myself already, I never would have seen this. And who knows what else I might see if I stick around?”
In a solemn moment of silence, I had reached an agreement with myself. I could never, ever kill myself. A switch in my brain flipped and after that instant, I knew that it was no longer an option.
Whenever people who haven’t tripped hear that story, they’re like “cool no thanks.” I get it. Hallucinogens basically ask you to take a little hammer to your brain, smash it, and then reassemble the pieces, depending on your dosage. They can absolutely 100% go the other way as well, as I learned after taking 2-CB and triggering daily panic attacks for a year. The positive thing I will say about that – as exCRUCIATING as it was – is that I was forced to confront my anxiety instead of being able to cover it up with drugs or deny the things that were making me unhappy in my life. I’ve thought about it a LOT since then and while at first I certainly regretted it, I don’t now. Prior to that, I hadn’t faced the emotional aftermath of being raped, I had simply pushed it down, down, down. To say the process was uncomfortable is an understatement but I am more strong now than I ever would have been otherwise.
Furthermore, psychedelics aren’t some panacea. I don’t believe that for a second. Going back to my suicide revelation, that’s simply not the case for everyone. If it was, David Claire would still be here. Lots of people would still be here. Our brains are complicated, often messy, hard to understand and so powerful. Just as sure as I am now that I could never commit suicide, I was equally as convinced as a kid that I wouldn’t live to see 18. And I pray that my current demeanor doesn’t change but it might. Life is anything but certain.
This whole thought process, this intense desire to share my relationship with suicide, has been growing for some time now (see: obvious reason above), but culminated finally with me watching A Star Is Born last night. I’m not going to tell you anything about it except HOLY SHIT GO SEE IT. I’m legit about to start crying just thinking about it though so I guess that’s your warning that it’s very emotionally charged and tbh a bit upsetting. A bit like this post, trigger warning as it does discuss suicide within the contents of the story. I won’t give you any spoilers but I also wouldn’t want anyone who could potentially be hurt by not knowing it’s not just Lady Gaga crushing it on the big screen (even though there’s definitely that as well).
Watching that was the final straw in a intense rising of emotions related to this whole topic, making me decide rather than stay silent out of some strangely conceived notion that in doing so I was being respectful of the passing of someone who, in all honesty, only grazed my hemisphere yet left distinct fingerprints on my life, that now more than ever is the time to talk about this. I want to scream from the rooftops “please fucking just hold on! I swear it gets better and if you hang in there you will see and feel and live through such beauty you can’t begin to imagine now!! I know that might sound fucking impossible but I swear it isn’t!!!” I want to scream that at Carly, circa 2004, but I can’t. I want to scream it at David but I can’t. So consider this my scream from the rooftops.
When David first passed, one of my first thoughts was “I wish he would have reached out to me.” This is a pretty inane thought to be honest. Other than brief, passing encounters throughout high school, we only talked on Messenger a few times and I’m almost certain I initiated each conversation. We spoke mostly about schizophrenia, as my mother is schizophrenic. He was very sweet and helpful, suggesting a therapist and discussing medications with me, answering random questions I thought of. He was always very open about his mental health struggles and in general seemed to have his shit together.
Not knowing him as well as so many others, I’ve avoided speaking about his death because I feel like I have no right to be sad or angry or confused or disbelieving. That’s the wild thing, though. I am. I am sad and angry and confused and disbelieving. I’m an obnoxiously sensitive person, I won’t pretend I’m not, but fuck me I’ve cried and cried and cried about him. I’ve put The W312d W3st and Would You Pass Me The Wine? on loop a dozen times now, so grateful that there’s some evidence of his beautiful spirit and talent still here. That’s one of the most profound things about it all – I’m sure he never would have guessed in a million years that this random ass girl who hit him up for advice about schizophrenia would ever care so much about him being gone. But I do. And I know lots of other people who do. I can’t BEGIN to fathom how his family and friends feel.
The whole thing is fucked, really. And there’s no bringing him back. But maybe in writing this, I can help influence literally one person into making the choice to stay alive. Keep fighting. It’s hard as fuck, trust me, I know, but it’s worth it. Things can’t get better if you’re dead. You have to be alive to feel relief. So having spouted all this, I want to offer a few resources – though if you’ve gathered anything from my blog or listened to me talk about mental health at all, you know that by and large the best thing you can do for your brain and your happiness is therapy. And before you say, oh I don’t have insurance, it’s not available for me – just check. Or ask me and I will check for you. I don’t care if we fucking rode the bus together in junior high and that’s the only way we know each other, I swear on Harry Potter I will help you out. At the local Community Mental Health in my hometown, I got 12 counseling sessions for free. You might not think that’s a lot or worth it but it 100% saved my life. So you never know.
Resource number one is me. I don’t care if you’re a stranger. No one deserves to die and if there’s anything I can do to prevent it, I will. While I hesitate to put my phone number on the internet, the fact is that I’m already bombarded with spam calls and texts so really what’s the worst that will happen (please don’t try and scare me by breathing into the phone or something ok i’m trying to do a good thing here). You can text me anytime at (231) 690-1242. You don’t even have to tell me who you are. You can call, too, but unless you leave a voicemail for me to call you back I probably won’t answer (see: TONS of spam calls. also I have a phone phobia. I’m working on it so I might answer – especially if I KNOW who/why you’re calling and can confirm you’re not one of my many debt collectors). I’m no therapist but if nothing else, you can vent to me. I’ll listen.
Another resource, if you’d prefer to talk to someone else is the Crisis Text Line. Get free help by texting CONNECT to 741741 in the United States or if you’re in Canada, direct your text to 686868. For folks like me that are a bit nervous on the phone or maybe you’re just in a situation where you really can’t talk, this is a great alternative! If you’ve ever thought about killing yourself, put this number in your phone RIGHT NOW. You don’t have to text them now. It’s cool. Maybe you’ll never need it! I hope not but having it available in case you do might help a lot and I hope someone finds it useful.
The last one is for folks like myself that feel the need to vomit their emotions through writing. This is a resource I actually used a lot in the past – The Good Samaritans. You don’t need to be suicidal to reach out to them – you can write them if you’re having a hard time at any time. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you within 24 hours. It’s not quite as quick as the Text Crisis Line but man, there were so many times that I felt like I was going to explode I was so full of emotions and being able to let that all out to someone I knew would be nonjudgmental and supportive was such an enormous help.
Of course there’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 – don’t underestimate the power of talking to someone. The worst thing that could happen is you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable or scared if you reach out to them. The best thing is that you’ll still be alive as long as you’re talking to them.
I hope literally any of this is of help to someone. I hope you all have really wonderful days. I hope we’re all alive and happy and living our best lives for years and years to come. I hope I never go back to thinking about killing myself. I hope none of you think about it, either. But if you do, please remember: you’re not alone.