I Want To Put a Face on Suicidality

Note that my writing will not always be personal, because this is not primarily a journal. But, this first one is as personal as it gets.

Suicidality has as many manifestations as there are fingerprints of those who contemplate this most irrevocable of all actions. I want to put a face on suicide for you. I want to put my face on it. Okay. I acknowledge it. I don't want to put my face on it, but Imma do it anyway. I do so to press firmly against the stigma of suicide.

In December 2018, I came within spitting distance of ending my life. I had not one, but two plans. One of my methods had a theoretical escape hatch, the other most certainly did not, and neither involved a gun. Although I'm not a great planner, [day-planners are for the weak ;-)] my psychologist confirmed that my plans were the real deal (my words, not hers). I did not make an actual attempt, but I remember the day in early December 2018. After ruminating for almost nine months on ending my life, while taking a shower, I thought, "I wonder if today is the day?" It was a moment of clarity and calm, qualitatively different than any of the tens of thousands of "suicide intentions" I had made in the prior months. In retrospect, the recollection of clarity and calmness I experienced then, sometimes terrifies me now. While Amy was decorating our Christmas tree, I "ran away" for almost six hours in my car. I drove three hours, turned around, and returned to a decorated tree and a distraught wife.

Here is what I can tell you. What you've read or heard about the twisted, distorted, and irreducibly impossible logic of the suicidal brain is accurate. For me, it was an endless churn and downward spiral of self-loathing. I came to believe that others would be better without me, and I better without them. There were uncountable nights where, ostensibly, I slept, but in the morning, I recognized that the churn and rumination seemed to never entirely pause, even during sleep.

If a suicidal person wants to keep it secret, they probably can because the devastating social stigma is built into the problem. It goes something like this: "I think I might want to kill myself. It's wrong to think that! See! Something is wrong with me. See! I have proof that I would be better off without me, and you would be better off without me!" That distortion itself feeds in an ever-quickening spiral toward death. My wife, Amy, knew something was wrong…our relationship had deteriorated to its lowest point in 35 years together, primarily because of my horrible behavior caused, in part, by my almost-too-late diagnosis of depression.
In January of 2019, several significant stressors went away….six week break from graduate school (pro-tip: my first MA at age 22 was way more comfortable), no exhausting road trips…among other things. By the time I was able to objectively recognize that I had been this close to taking my own life, and see my family physician for help, I was no longer in immediate danger to myself. I guess I got lucky.

That's enough for now. I cannot promise you that I can be your go-to consultant when suicide darkens your life. But, you may reach out to me. If time and my life circumstances permit, I will try to speak with you. If we do talk, or indeed if we meet in person during my many travels, there is no question I won't answer for you about my experience; today, tomorrow, next month, next year, or decades down the road. You know how to reach me. You know I'll speak.