Again, these entries were written over 20 years ago in a very dark period of my life. I am not there anymore, thankfully! But . . .if you feel that you are vulnerable to suicidal thoughts, please do not read this post. I would hate to contribute to darkening your journey even a little bit.
Yesterday, I posted Part 1. Before I present the entry today, I promised to talk a bit about how I got out of the pit.
My period of time in this pit had been triggered by a very brief relationship, one that I thought would be easy to handle. I was wrong. I wrote a lot in my journal during this time and had to remind myself that the abruptness of the end of this relationship had set off a tumbling downward into a trough of despair. Were I not in analysis at this time, I might have been able to brush it off, or utilize compulsive activities like eating or buying stuff to numb out the pain. But I was just at the point where these old coping behaviors no longer worked. That’s a tough time because until you have something more positive to replace the old behaviors and thinking/feeling patterns, you’re stuck. For me, the downward spiral was sudden and overtook me completely for awhile.
The while was about six to seven weeks. But those were probably the hardest six to seven weeks of my life. I realized my friends were unable to help me, and my therapist certainly couldn’t be on the phone with me 24/7 even though she was available when I needed her. I wasn’t close to either of my parents (and they were definitely contributing factors in my despair) and I wasn’t about to burden my son. I did write in my journal, but looking backwards, I only found a few entries written when I was at my lowest point.
Believe it or not, I managed to get to work most days and nobody went hungry. If I had to describe my mood, once the despair hit hard, it was like I was a walking shell of a person. I must have “passed” well enough, because nobody moved to get me committed to a mental hospital.
In essence, I had to tough it out. I wasn’t ready to consider medication at all (later, a sponsor who was a psychiatric nurse said I should have taken meds – that “pain” was the not the same as “suffering” and I was suffering.)
I also agreed that I would call my therapist before I did anything rash. I certainly had fantasies of non-existence that primarily ran to just not waking up the next day, or driving off the bridge, things that would be quick or painless.
But I suspect the final healer of this deep depression was time. As time passed, and I continued to talk about it and tread water emotionally, I began to see some sort of light that started small but got a bit larger and brighter day by day. The day I woke up and realized I wasn’t considering death was a good day.
This is the journal entry I wrote the day after the one I posted yesterday; it, too, is pretty dark, but there are a few moments of some perspective:
Last night it was ugly fat cow don’t deserve anything.
Tonight I still feel dark thoughts, murderous suicidal thoughts.
Wait Without Hope
The only semi-answer to suicide is I wouldn’t get to see how the story turns out. If I kill myself, the problem with that answer is that I do know [how it turns out]. I die anyway and maybe I’m raped, beaten, tortured by someone else, or ravaged by a disease . . . AIDS or cancer, etc. Maybe I’m hit by a car and go into a coma state. Maybe . . .
So with suicide, I exercise a measure of control over the end. I pick the time, I pick the method. I can do it rationally.
But I’d be living without a sense of mystery . . . trading that for control.
All of life’s the tug of:
The Mystery – the “Only don’t know” and “Wait without hope” and along with this, the tremendous anxiety and knowledge of inevitable human suffering and human joy. The pay-off is creativity, love, beauty but only maybe
And Control – and along with this, quelled anxiety and “the end of the book”, but also no spontaneity, a lack of joy, a lack of emotion, a “living dead.”
And the problem is – I can only control myself and my reactions. Not other persons, places or things, no matter how much I try. The greater the pain of living – the more I want to control it, to clamp down on it. Suicide seems to make too much sense if I’ve chosen the control side.
Something happens after death. I go back to the source, maybe I return and maybe not. I don’t care – all I know is that I’m out of my gross body, and out of emotional pain and human suffering. And that trade-off seems worth it.
The downside is not seeing how [my son] turns out, not seeing grandkids, etc. But maybe I’ll have a spiritual way of doing [this], so that won’t matter. I’d like to think [my son] would hate me if I died, but he’s sure to hate me more as a mother if I stayed.
Being a paralegal is deadening to my mind and spirit. And my body brings me nothing but shame. No one else can stand to look at it, including me. It will be horrid thin or fat – especially old (thin or fat.) Whether filled or empty, it’s just sacs of skin. Disgusting. Disease festers there. So what’s the point?
The only pleasure I feel is [sensual] – my heart is like a stone. I do love [my son] but that’s it. I know I am completely alone. I pay someone to listen to me and mirror me – big deal. My friends don’t get it and never will. There are no men – they reject me because I am who I am.
I lost me completely somewhere and I am coming to terms with that. I’m not coming back and it’s only [a matter of] time before I need to end this nonsense. Planning needs to be done to protect [my son] but other than that there’s no real point to living just to feel depressed and lonely over and over again. To be financially strapped, to be bored, to be continually rejected, to not want to be here much longer.
These are too familiar feelings and, as a thinking, rational human – I don’t know if I can stand just existing.
I don’t know if I can Wait Without Hope – for the murderer.
Well, that’s dramatic!
I didn’t harm myself, I never stole pills, and didn’t “accidentally on purpose” get into an accident of any sort. Actually we did talk about those accidents in therapy and I knew if I somehow just showed up with a cast on my arm one week, that this would entail much conversation about whether this was an accident or not.
I mentioned that one other thing that contributed to healing was poetry, and it was during this time that I had discovered T.S. Eliot. Here’s the end of the portion of East Coker, from Four Quartets. This will probably be a more familiar portion of the poem, but it continues with the theme of waiting without hope, but attempts an answer that is, dare I say, more hopeful?
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.