I Can’t Breathe

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog, Mental Health | Posted on 20-03-2014

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When a friend asked me to be his best man, this was the first thought to go through my head:1795529_530268430422636_1035407866_n

“If I say yes, that means I can’t kill myself until at least next June otherwise they’ll be really inconvenienced.”

I genuinely contemplated turning down the offer for that sole reason. I knew I could handle all the other commitments; I also had no particular plan or desire to commit suicide, but this should give you an idea of how high up the idea was on my list of possible future activities.

Although I’ve never directly attempted suicide, the thought has entered my mind more times than I suspect is healthy. It’s almost always because of my inability to let things go: I still feel guilty, ashamed and embarrassed about (barely) getting into trouble as a child; unkind comments from a decade ago still sting and resonate with chimes of overthinking and overanalysing, leading me to conclude I am spectacularly hated and deservedly so; friendships which ended abruptly haunt my dreams and paralyse my idle time with regret.

I think of my mind as a rucksack I’m forced to permanently carry. Every negative thought, every bad experience, every worry, is another rock added to my pack. There is no way to empty the rucksack, and I’m lucky if I get to set it down for a few minutes each day. It gets heavier when I’m alone and is worst of all when I lie down.

My brain is constantly overheating from too much everything. I think what it ultimately boils down to, be it depression, anxiety, autism, whatever… is a lack of filters for my thoughts. There is just too much in the world, with new content being added every second. Too many stories to immerse myself in: too many books, films, TV shows, games. Too much culture to consume — let alone process — it all. I am consistently overwhelmed.

Have you answered all your Facebook messages, including replying to comments and responding to things people have posted on your wall? (Which means you have to find the time to watch/listen to/read what was posted and process how you feel about it, unless you lie and pretend you liked it and bookmark it to watch later, but then you’ll feel guilty for lying and not being a loyal friend by giving them enough of your time.) Have you called that person back? And did you book that appointment? Have you read, responded to and acted on any requests or questions or correspondence in your texts and emails so that people don’t think you’re ignoring them? Have you opened the giant pile of mail on your floor? Have you gone through the bills and worked out how much everyone in the house owes? Have you read that book you borrowed two years ago from someone who suggested you read it and you fully intended to but just never found the time? Why not? It’s not your property, you should give it back because that’s taking advantage of someone’s generosity. But not without reading it first, because that would be rude. Have you watched that TV series yet? Everyone’s talking about it and it’s meant to be really good and everyone says you’d love it. It’s currently on Season 4 and each season has 24 episodes and each episode is 40 minutes long and you really have to start at the beginning and, oh, have you read the books? You should do that as well; they’re brilliant. By the way, you still need to play those 16 games you have on Steam that you bought over the last 4 sales. Each one takes around 50 hours to complete, or maybe 70 if you want to complete it fully and find all the hidden things and complete all the side quests so you get to fully experience the story and get your money’s worth. Remember you need to wash the dishes and that you need to eat which means the washing achieves nothing as the plates will just get dirty again, speaking of which there’s this great new restaurant we should check out give me a text when you fancy going there together some time have you heard this band they’re playing next month let’s get tickets youshouldgetoutmore whatdoyoumeanyoudon’thavetimeallyoudoeveryeveningissitaroundyourhouse

 

*and breathe*

How do regular people keep from going insane? Wilful ignorance? Some ‘off’ button, or blinders? Can other people put that rucksack down, or at least empty it occasionally? There are people with lives far worse than mine who find the strength to continue, after all. Presumably other people are able to forget or get over bad experiences in time, but my need for resolution is too great.

As the weight of my rucksack only ever increases, suicide is something I’ve thought more about as I’ve got older as an alternative to eventual insanity. Although there are definitely times when I see it as a way to escape unbearable-yet-fleeting emotional pain, it’s the nucleus of those feelings — the mind full of overwhelming, unrelenting thoughts — which I really want to stop. Deep down I know that I don’t want to die. Or, more specifically, I know that I want to live: not just linger to not upset those I love, but actually feel and embrace life and all it has to offer instead of being caught in an undercurrent struggling for air. But I often fear this is a pipe dream, becoming more out of reach by the day as rocks continue to get piled into my pack. It’s already so heavy it weighs me down in almost everything I do, and unless I can find a way to be rid of it it’s only a matter of time before I’m crushed under its weight.

Occasionally I meet someone who helps me carry the burden. Having them in my life is Heaven. But if I’m not careful it leads to dependency, which is abhorrent to me (I’m a firm believer that a relationship should be two individuals complementing each other, not some creepy co-dependent hive mind with a shared Facebook account). I’m borderline autistic and people I can connect to on such a deep level are few and far between. On more than one occasion such a relationship has ended with abrupt silence instead of closure, which not only returns the rucksack unexpectedly to full weight but also adds a mountain more of the heaviest rocks of all. Without the opportunity to talk about everything at length and reach understanding and acceptance, my ability to function as an independent individual is crushed while I speculate and worry and fantasise in a desperate attempt to fill the gaping void of pitiful dependency I’ve become trapped in. The speculations become fears and doubts and regrets and desperate, unanswered questions and they consume my mind so frequently I can hardly breathe and constantly feel like I’m about to explode.

This is how I feel at the moment. I worked all weekend and even became unusually sociable in an attempt to distract myself from my thoughts, but it was futile. Being trapped inside yourself is a terrible feeling. It seems the only thing I can do — and indeed, probably the best thing to do — is give it time and let the situation that triggered this work out. But without constant company, distraction, and an unhealthy amount of cigarettes and whisky, I wouldn’t have made it through this last week. I don’t believe I’ll make it to the end of the month without at least a few scars, and if not for the continued support of my true friends letting me bend their ears at all hours of the day and night, I wouldn’t bet on me living until April.

I am thankful there are people keeping me here. Keeping it just a fantasy, albeit one I flirt dangerously close with at times in my behaviour. Keeping me from adding just that little bit more pressure as I run the kitchen knife up and down and across my wrist. I draw possibly controversial parallels between suicide to end mental suffering and euthanasia. Consequently I see suicide as something I wouldn’t rule out when I really can’t carry this burden anymore.

I support the right to die: none of us asked to be born, and death is inevitable. I believe it’s better to die well than to live miserably. I remember watching The Bridge and being angry at the people trying to install suicide nets — I even thought “maybe I should hurry up and go there before they get installed and I never get the chance.” There isn’t a lot that scares me, but something that does is the idea of being physically unable to take my own life; to have that option revoked, even temporarily by committing to a wedding. I want to be in control of how I live and how I die, and while my daily battle is fighting to live the way I want despite my rucksack, I take solace in the fact that if I lose that battle I can at least die on my terms. I never want to end up a burden or a gibbering wreck.

 

I promise my next blog post will be cheerier. 🙂

Related:

Depression Comix — “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”


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