Here is something you don’t hear too often: you’re going to die.
I can think of no greater irony than for a Ghost to remind you that you are, with all certainty, going to be dead eventually. Now I realize that isn’t the most fun thing to hear, and most of this post is going to make most of my readers very uncomfortable. That’s why I want to go ahead and get this little tidbit out early, so you can decide if you want to stay buckled up for this whole Transient Talk roller coaster.
I promised to make this blog as transparent as possible, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I plan on making this a platform to say important things that most people aren’t weird enough to say casually. So, here we go.
Grief hits people in unique ways that result in familiar reactions like tears and anger. When grief hits really hard, like really really hard, our sorrow and confusion begins to bleed into every facet of our life, not just the inciting incident. We begin to wonder what the point of anything is. Then, the pesky thought of suicide crops up.
This is where people are going to get uncomfortable, and I’m sure I will lose people here. That being said, you have the right to kill yourself. That is technically an option. When I was at my lowest, I remember when the thought first popped up. After sleepless weeks of weeping, self-imposed starvation, and utter numbness, I found myself staring down the barrel of a gun thinking how delicious a big mouthful of lead would be for breakfast. I opted out, thinking it would probably be best if I told my therapist first if for no other reason than to say “Thanks. You did your best.”
I found myself sitting in his office with very little to say despite the fact that my entire life was crumbling around me, helplessly slipping through my fingers. I was going to lose my house, my dog, my spouse, maybe my car, my money, my future, but honestly I didn’t really care. It was going to be over pretty soon, and I would be a ghost for real instead of just feeling like one. I knew my therapist would pick up on it, and I braced myself for a flood of therapyisms like, “You have more to live for than you think,” and, “You don’t really want to do this.” To which I would to reply, “Okay,” then proceed to go home and kill myself.
As expected, he picked up on my subtle hints of suicidal thoughts after I said, “Hey, I’m thinking I’m just going to punch my ticket and kill myself.” What happened next was unexpected though…
He picks up his pen, raises his eyebrows, and says, “Okay.”
We sit there in abject silence, him knowing that I will wind up trying to fill it. “I just don’t really see the point in keeping this up anymore. It just sucks. I’m not even sad. I think I am just tired and done with this. I don’t care if this may or may not get better. I just want to be dead instead of feeling dead.”
He scribbles a little bit, and I ask him what he wrote down. “Exactly what you said,” he tells me. Then he tells me probably the most important words I have ever heard in my life, “You definitely have that option. That’s your choice.”
“I realize that it’s my choice.”
He smiles subtly, “That’s good, because once it enters your mind you have a choice to make. You can act on it, or you can do nothing, which is it’s own kind of choice.”
The session ends not too long after, and he asks me to at least call him if I am planning on going through with it. I agree, and go home to decide what my choice will be. It is an odd encounter for sure, an encounter that makes people squirm whenever I bring it up. I would really like it if you heard me out, though.
When people are depressed and suicidal, they feel like they are in a lose-lose battle. Hell, their entire life may feel like a lose-lose battle. They want to do something about it. They want exactly what they most of us want, to take our lives into our own hands, and they feel like their lives are so out of control that they literally have to take them. Suicide is not illogical. It is a solution.
The sticking point is, even when you are suicidal, you would probably prefer to not be. So we dip our toes in the water by cocking the gun or opening up the pill bottle, then back out only to feel like a bigger failure than we were just minutes before. We get in our heads and this thought pops up, a thought that is going to be uncomfortably familiar to some of you, “I can’t even kill myself right.”
Right? Lose-lose. It’s a self perpetuating cycle of sorrow that exponentially gets more intense, a strange phenomenon that I affectionately call “The Misery Snowball.” Since The Misery Snowball is a thought process, the only way to get the snowball to lose momentum is to divert it or change the chain of thoughts altogether.
The only way that I have found to stop The Misery Snowball of suicide is empowerment, and since situations like that are desperate times, it calls for desperate measures.
When we hear about how a friend, hell even a stranger, is thinking about offing themselves, our initial reaction is to recoil and plead. “No! You can’t do that! I won’t let you!” We may beg and start detailing lists of all the things that they have to live for. The issue is, those are all the things that you think they have to live for. Honestly, they probably just don’t give a shit at that point; they just want to feel like their hands are back on the wheel.
When I was in The Misery Snowball, I felt powerless. Life was not happening to me; it was happening (antagonistically) at me. I was being lifed to death. So why not punch my ticket? It would kill a lot of birds with one stone, the most crucial bird of all being myself. I genuinely thought that it was the only choice that I had in order to steer my own life in my own way.
Not once, not a single god-damn time, did some tell me that not doing something can be a powerful choice. It feels pretty passive, but being authentic and full of vitality is not about impressing anyone. A victory is a victory no matter how you slice it, no matter who does/doesn’t see it, no matter if you ever get any recognition for it. When you hit the rocky bottom of the well, you have to make a choice to stay down there and drown or float back up to the top for air.
It’s not any easy choice for a lot of people, myself included. It was something that I literally made a pros and cons list over, and eventually I came to the realization that most of my depressive spells were caused by my own imagination. I was torturing myself with my own thoughts; of course I wanted to die! That’s what torture is for!
I promised myself three things the day if I decided to keep going:
- Take responsibility for literally everything in my life. Don’t accept fault for everything, but at the end of the day, everything in my life is my responsibility to deal with.
- Speak my own love language to myself in order to be able to teach others how I want to be treated.
- If this doesn’t work, I have permission to renegotiate suicide.
Thankfully, I didn’t need to come back to number 3. Honestly, number 1 probably would have been good enough to get me through that time, but anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?
Just face it, we all die eventually, and I’m not going to throw up some cheeky, cat poster-esque truism like, “Life is short. So, make the most of it!” I’m just flat out saying that you need to come to terms with the fact that you are going to die, and it is your right as a human to go out however you want to. It’s no one else’s business. That being said, because it is no one else’s business, it is wholly your business to see that if life is bad, you have all the power in the world to make it better.
I can’t give you a definite answer on how to do that, but maybe start with that little list that I presented. When you start taking everything as your responsibility, you become really selective on what problems you want to take on. You put up with less bullshit, and you start to realize how incredibly valuable your time and attention is.
So to you who may be at the bottom of the well, this Ghost spent a lot of time down there, but I can’t even begin to understand the intricacies of what you are going through. Even though the end will come eventually, but it doesn’t have to be today. That is a good thing. No matter how weak you feel, how hopeless or desperate or alienated, you are strong enough to float to the top for one more breath of air. The bottom will always be there, but if you spend all of your time in the murky depths, you will miss the ever-changing sky above.
This is not me making light of suicide, this is me trying to normalize the fact that a lot of people need to hear this right now. I’ll scream into the void if that’s what this turns out to be, but folks who are in the midst of torrential downpours of despair are not weak for feeling exhausted. They aren’t cowards for being afraid. They aren’t broken from being hurt. If you think that of someone you know, how about you go fuck yourself.
If you feel that way about yourself, know that there is at least one person who has your back, who has been down there in the darkness, and has come back to the surface to find it beautiful when one takes it on their own terms. My life is mine. Your life is yours, and if a Ghost like me can peer through his computer screen and tell you that you are valuable, you can find that value in yourself as well.
I am telling you that you are always making a choice, even when you aren’t. If nothing else, I want you here; your story still has much more to say. Lows are merely there to punctuate your triumphs, and rising above the waterline of your personal mire begins simply with choosing to believe the truth, the truth that there is so much more just above the surface.
Once you get there, hands like mine will be there to help pull you out.