The word suicide sends a chill down my spine. It’s the kind of chill I used to get before I’d take my first drink or as I’d roll a dollar bill tightly between my fingertips while staring at a pile of powdered white gold. It’s the chill of anticipation. A chill of excitement.
Right now, I have that chill. Right now, my brain is fixated on the idea of suicide.
I spent the last two hours lying in bed, letting the chill rise and fall as my brain spun in every direction possible. I slowly made my way to the computer, because that’s what I do when I don’t know what else to do; I write. And as I write this, with tears forming in my eyes and that chill still wandering up my spine, I want to die. Simply existing feels like too much work right now. And I just don’t have the energy to do the work. I can’t possibly fathom how my next breath will make it’s way into existence. Every muscle, bone, joint, organ in my body is aching to be done; to return to dust.
I don’t want to live. Living in this body with this mind is too excruciatingly painful. I want the pain to stop and, right now, death seems like a plausible solution. The thought of death excites me; I imagine death to provide me the relief I’ve been praying endlessly for. Death feels easy; it feels safe. I need safe and easy right now because my body is exceptionally fragile.
But as I sit here and write, I begin to notice a tight knot forming in the pit of my stomach. The chill is now gone. My throat feels like it’s housing a grapefruit. There is sweat beading up in the palms of my hands.
Right now, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid because my thoughts are shifting from death to dying. Death doesn’t scare me but dying does, because the idea of dying forces me to think of my family: my husband and the three beautiful children I would leave behind. Death is a state of being, for me. It would be the end of my pain. But dying is a verb; it’s a process. A process that my family- my children- would have to go through. A process that for them, would bring indescribable pain.
I can’t do that to them. I can’t choose myself over my children.
So, I will continue living in unbearable pain because I don’t want my children to suffer. I don’t want to be the source of their pain. And I know that the pain will pass. Experience has shown that as long as I don’t act, the feelings and the pain will pass.
I used to think suicidal people were crazy. I now know they are just in pain. They are trapped in a darkness that seems impossible to escape. Death becomes a dream- a fantasy- because death is often the only light they see. But death isn’t a way into the light. Death, by suicide, is just spreading the darkness.
Some people think suicide is selfish; I don’t. I believe people who die by suicide are sick. They have a sickness that blocks them from noticing the dying aspect of death. Just like when I have a congested nose from a sinus infection, I’m unable to notice smells that permeate the air. If I walk into a house where homemade cookies are baking in the oven, most likely, I won’t know that there are cookies until the hostess serves them to me and I put one in my mouth. I wasn’t aware of the cookies until the process was over because I couldn’t see or smell them. Just like people who die by suicide aren’t aware of the process of dying because they can’t see the whole picture. Their fantasies don’t include the people they leave behind.
People don’t like to talk about suicide because it’s dark, depressing, and often scary. But talking about suicide saves lives. Writing about suicide, right now, is literally saving my life.
Thoughts that I keep inside grow and fester. They become obsessions- thoughts that have infinite power over me. But thoughts released are just thoughts. Once they float out, they leave space for other thoughts. In this case, healthier thoughts. Hopeful thoughts. Thoughts that allow me to remember that the pain will pass. Thoughts that remind me of the joy that fills my life on days when my pain is managed.
Right now, I no longer want to die. I want to live. I’m thinking of yesterday, when I jumped into a pit of air at the bounce house with my two year old in my arms. I’m remembering the fun we had, the laughter we shared. I’m picturing a date my husband and I went on where we painted pottery together. I looked at him and he smiled at me, the same smile I fell in love with so many years ago. Although I can’t feel the love right now, I remember the love we shared in that moment. That love is grounding me, bringing me home.
Thinking about suicide does not make me crazy, dark, or twisted. Talking about suicide does not mean there’s something wrong with me. It means my brain was sick but I am working my way towards wellness.
Suicide is only scary when it’s kept secret. Thinking about suicide only kills if those thoughts aren’t talked about.
About the Author: Christine Suhan is a wife, mother to three toddler boys, and marriage and family therapist. She blogs regularly about marriage, mental health, addiction recovery, chronic illness and motherhood at www.feelingsandfaith.net. Her writing has been featured on Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Parenting.com, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, Elle, Redbook, Scary Mommy, Romper and more. You can find her on Facebook.