Suicide: Part 1

The first time I ever thought of the word suicide must have been at about 13. That was when most of my life started falling apart. Home had turned into a place where I had to take care of my mother so I was no longer free while I was there. School had turned into a survival match between the bullies and the teachers: both parties seemed to want me to suffer every day.

Nothing was safe, and nothing was sacred any more. I felt more angst and pain than I thought was possible, and saw no way to express it. I tried writing, drawing, music, nothing seemed to help. I felt completely lost and scared and that I was all alone out there. Most of the time, it felt like I was trapped in a foreign planet where everyone else seemed to speak a whole different language than I did. They were all doing normal middle school things, and I was over there in existential crisis, trapped inside my own dark and abusive thoughts.

For weeks I stayed up all night trying to think of a way to fix these problems. I am firm believer that any problem can be fixed with the right strategy. Even in my depression, I felt that way. But I could not find any solution. I was too young to get a job, I was too scared to run away (and I didn’t want to leave my dog).

I finally realized that there was one way out – I could die. If I died, then suddenly I don’t have to go to school and get made fun of, I don’t have to go home and take care of my mother, I don’t have to figure out my life plans any more, I could just stop being a problem to the world. I felt sick the first time I thought of it and pushed it out of my head for a few days. But then, like a tiger hunting in the jungle, the thought pounced back onto me in a moment of weakness. I had a pang of longing in my heart as I realized that my death would take me out of this awful situation. This time it stuck with me for a while. I had heard people say that suicide was ‘selfish’, but I didn’t really understand what that meant (I still don’t to be honest). Living seems to be pretty selfish, why would dying be more so?

I thought a lot about what death meant. I had been a Christian for a while, but never really believed in the whole afterlife thing. I had no concept of what death was like and being such an unknown thing scared me. I tried to imagine what death was like by closing my eyes, holding my breath, and being perfectly still. I imagined doing that until the end of time. It sucked. I didn’t think that was what death was like.

So then, I thought about death being nothing. Death would mean that all that I was would suddenly cease to be and everything that I had learned and thought of, would suddenly disappear. It hurt my brain to think about that. I realized that death also meant that I would lose all of the things I cared about in life, that much I knew was certain. If I died, there would be no more mac and cheese, no more puppies, no more Lord of the Rings and so on.

I realized that I had two options: live or die. Dying contained a lot of unknowns which scared me. Living contained a lot of problems that I didn’t like and couldn’t solve. I really couldn’t decide which one was the better option. That was really my reason for stalling. Not some belief that every life is precious, not some faith-based reason, not a deep seated will to live, not a dramatic savior swooping in to save me. I didn’t kill myself because I couldn’t choose between life and death. One of the few times that indecision and black and white thinking can be a good thing.

I made a pro and con list of living. It seems crass now to distill life down to that level, but it made sense at the time. I wish that I still had that list, but it got lost in a move, along with my Bag of Emotional Baggage. That’s not a joke, I used to keep everything that I cared about and felt emotions for in a bag. I would look through that bag when I felt bad. Losing it was devastating, but that’s a sad story for another day.

I believe my list was something like this:

Pro for Living:

  • Puppies
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • Rain
  • Sunny days
  • Trees
  • Flowers
  • Books
  • Video games
  • Mac and Cheese

 

Con for Living:

  • Bullies – they will stop one day
  • Taking care of mom – she took care of me when I was younger
  • Hating myself – I will learn and be better one day…probably
  • Feeling lost – “Not all who wander are lost” – Gandalf the Grey
  • Emotions – ???
  • Puberty – will end at some point, right??

 

I remember very clearly writing in solutions for all the things that were on my con list. I had the mental capacity, even then, to see that those things were fixable problems. I think what helped me was to writie the pro list first. I then felt that there were so many things that I enjoyed, that I couldn’t miss out on those.

I decided that the problems from living could or would be fixed with enough time. The uncertainties of dying might be really really bad, or could be great. I don’t like to gamble, so I decided that the best option would be to live.

So I then sat down and thought about how to add more of the things I liked into my life.

 

Masking Depression

Another sad update from the pits of depression.

Lately I have been consumed by one thought: I want more than anything to be better, to be myself again. I want to be able to laugh and smile and enjoy things again. I want to be able to sleep through the night. I want to be able to go through a day without wanting to die.

But I am not there yet. There have been a few days that I have felt like that, and that should be giving me hope. However, it has the opposite effect. I feel that I am slipping further and further away from those days of being myself again.

I have given up on myself in a lot of ways. I don’t believe that my life will be good again, I don’t believe that I will ever have fun again. I don’t believe that there is anything in my future to look forward to. I want to believe those things so much, but I can’t. Believing in those hopeful things feels like lying, and I can’t tolerate lying.

I can sense that people around me are beginning to give up on me, like I have given up on myself. Sometimes I can tell that they are concerned about me, and sometimes they offer to help me. But they don’t know how, and I don’t even know how they could help me. I can tell they want me to get better but are starting to think that it is not possible too. I can feel them starting to move on with their lives and forget about me. I feel that I will soon become just another statistic, a data point to show a lost life due to mental illness.

I do not want that to happen. I want things to change, I want things to be good again. I have no idea how to do that.

So I have started putting on my ‘mask’ anytime I am around other people. I put on my mask that makes me seem happy and ok. I use the mask to make myself controlled and consistent enough so that I can go to work on bad days. The mask keeps me from melting into a puddle, and keeps me from screaming at small problems like the wind blowing in my face. I used to be able to keep the mask off, but now it is a necessity.

I have to hide my true feelings because I know that people are sick and tired of hearing it. When someone asks “How are you?”, the mask forces me to answer with “Good”. But the truth is something more like “Absolutely horrible in every way, I feel the crushing weight of the universe on my eyelids every morning and can barely keep them open because all I want to do is go to sleep forever.” But that is not an answer you can ever really give.

People like the mask, and I often think that they like it instead of me. I feel that no one would like the real me anymore, and I can’t blame them. I don’t even like the me that I am now (although I have rarely ever liked myself).

I used to have friends and some family that I could be genuine with, people who never expected me to wear the mask and who accepted me without it. But now, anytime I try to take it off and be open with them, they clam up and start to freak out. They run away from me when I try to share or resist me. That makes me feel so much worse. I don’t want or expect them to fix me, I just want someone to actually listen. I don’t even care if they do nothing other than say “Yeah” and “Uh-huh” in-between my sentences. I don’t even care if they care or not. I just want the dignity of another human being caring about me enough to let me explain how I feel. And not to have them interrupt me to try to correct me or try to solve my problems as I explain them. I just want to take off the mask and share actual honesty with someone. I used to be able to that, but now I can tell that people are too worried about me. They judge me too much. So I have to keep all those awful feelings inside of me, bottle them up and hope that they don’t leak their toxins into my bloodstream.

I hate when I have to take the mask off at the end of the day. It feels as if my face is rotting underneath the mask. Every time I take it off, it smells and feels a little more rank. I am unsure who I am without that mask now. I keep trying to wear the mask constantly, but I can’t fall asleep with that thing on. But then when I take it off, I realize how bad of shape I really am in and how I can’t even talk to anyone about it and I get too scared. I am constantly terrified. I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this fight, I am running out of options and out of time. Something has to change soon.

 

Finally some good news: I wrote that post last week, and between then and now some huge things have happened. I saw my psychiatrist, who said that I could be a good candidate for a procedure called Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). It is a treatment used to help when anti-depressants have not really worked very well and there has not been much recovery. The process is basically powerful magnets that send waves into the brain to help reactivate parts of the brain that do not function well in depressed patients. It also has been shown to help with anxiety, OCD, and improve autism as well (still not entirely sure how that one works).

I found out my insurance approved it and would pay 99% of the huge amount (I won’t say how much exactly, but that it cost about as much as my college degree). I spent the last remnants of my medical savings account to pay for it because it seemed like a great option. I am hoping that it works. I am currently on Day 4 and so far all it has done is give me headaches and make me very very sleepy. But those are perfectly normal side effects so far.

 

PS: Apologies if my posts here have drifted a bit. My intent was to keep this blog about autism related things and life stories/perspectives and all that, but my life has been totally taken over by this depression. I feel like a lot of my depression is because of my autism, or at least exacerbated by it. And depression is a very common problem for those with autism, so it technically isn’t too far off base.