There’s no hiding the fact that that person is me. I thought about writing this from a more analytical point of view, maybe in the third person, with the name changed, but that would have defeated the whole point of writing this post. I don’t want to hide behind a pseudonym or a scientific approach. It needs to be out there, with me attached to it. A person with a name and a job and a house and a cat and friends and a family who care a person who you probably all know. OK, you don’t all know me that well, if at all, but I can guarantee that you know somebody very much like me, even if you don’t know you know them, if that makes any sense.
There’s a stereotypical image of someone who is suicidal. They often don’t get out of bed, let alone leave the house. They can’t meet people, or go to the shops, or hold down a job or pay bills or keep relationships together. These people do exist, and I don’t for a second want to dismiss them or imply that they should be in any way thought less of. They absolutely need help and support and as much love and compassion as is humanly possible, but that’s not the person I am so I don’t feel it would be right for me to write about that person.
I have been what I have self-titled, a high functioning suicidal person. That is to say that I have continued to get out of bed, have a shower and leave the house most days. I’ve stayed in work, maintained friendships and even got married. I did these things amongst the backdrop of chaos which sometimes filled my head. I thought for a long time that I couldn’t be suicidal because I’d managed to hold my life together, reasonably well. I had, however, discounted the main thing which all suicidal people have in common. I wanted to die. I didn’t always necessarily want to kill myself, I very often just wanted to cease to exist. In human terms, as something which was already in existence, this means, of course, to die. I played that down for a long time. I also feel like sometimes I give the wrong impression.
Because I seem to be outwardly happy, confident and have my shit together (which sometimes I genuinely do!) people must think that I’m pretty sorted and ok within myself, and I don’t blame them for that. It does make it harder to ask for help when I need it, though. It makes it almost impossible for me to fall apart and not freak people out. There are a handful of people with whom I can be completely honest, admit that I’m having a bit of a suicidal day, and receive support in return. I’m aware that having ‘a bit of a suicidal day’ sounds incredibly glib, and if I heard anyone else say that I’d be mildly offended. That said, I need to stress that I am not planning my own death on a daily basis. In fact I don’t plan it at all, really, these days. It’s more just an overwhelming need to escape the world. This is something which many people experience, regularly. I suppose the difference is that I know, deep down, I have what it takes to make that happen. I know because I’ve tried it before. Of course, I didn’t succeed, despite my best efforts at the time. That’s not to say that I can guarantee that I will not try again in the future. That I will not succeed next time. Thats’ a pretty scary place to be, especially when you’re mostly just pootling about, getting on with things.
I keep pootling about because I don’t really see that I have an option right, now. My cat needs me, my friends like me, my husband needs me to remember to wash the towels on a Friday. As awful as I might be feeling, as much as I would wish to stay in bed and not face the world, I just can’t bring myself to be that person. I’ve gone from fully functioning got in from work/ having a laugh with friends/ cleaning the kitchen to wanting to die, in a split second. I don’t have an in-between. This is good for productivity but really bad for trying to catch it before it before it spirals. I’m still struggling with how to catch it.
If you see me out and about, don’t worry that I’m not listening to you and instead I’m planning my demise. I’m really not. I do have terribly dark moments / days where I need to look after myself but chances are I’ll still pop to the shop or have a walk round the park. I guess as long as I’m doing that, I’ll be ok. Sometime ok is the best we can aim for.
As I close, here are some fun facts for you, which might dispel a few misconceptions.
1.I have never used suicide as a threat or ultimatum.
2.I have never used threat of suicide to manipulate anyone.
3.I have been open with some people about what my intentions were and this in no way reduced the possibility of me acting on those intentions.
4. I have, in the past, had a very definite plan.
5. I have asked for professional help which, for various reasons, proved to be inappropriate and / or ineffective.
6. I have found some fellow suicidal people to be very annoying.
7. Feeling suicidal doesn’t always mean you’re planning to kill yourself. I can mean that you just desperately hope for it all to end.
If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, self harm or you’re frightened by your thoughts please get some help.