Months ago, I read an article about living with chronic depression and suicidal ideation. More to the point, the article was about how it’s difficult to talk about it without people freaking out. I’m not saying it’s not understandable–mentioning suicide or not wanting to live is deeply uncomfortable to hear. The impulse is to rush in and placate the person, say it’s not so bad, or give them a half-dozen reasons why they should want to live. Especially in America, we are not comfortable with death, and my theory is because we are so removed from it.
The piece really resonated with me because I can’t remember a day when I woke up thinking, “I’m glad to be alive.” There were long periods of my life when I actively wanted to be not alive. Note that I did not say I wanted to die because I’m afraid of death, but I most certainly did not want to be alive. I liked to joke that my negativity is the only reason I’m alive–I had more fear of dying, convinced that whatever was on the other side was worse than what was in this one. I hated life, though, and everything about it. I hated me most of all, and I would go over every day in my mind what I hated about myself. The list was long and seemingly never-ending.
It’s weird for me to think about those days because I was a completely different person back then. It’s as if it weren’t me, and I feel that way about most of my earlier incantations. I don’t have any connection to them, and I don’t know if it’s normal or not. I feel some sympathy for the younger mes, but I don’t feel as if they were me. It could be dissociation or it could just be normal growth. It’s hard for me to say.
Recently, I had a bout of wanting to die, and it was really strange. It wasn’t me. I mean, I wasn’t consciously thinking it–it was an external pressure. Back in the day, it was me wanting to not live. This most recent bout, it wasn’t that at all. I mean, to get a bit more nuanced, I go through most of my days not wanting to be alive. Or rather, I’m indifferent to it. I don’t see the point, and I don’t know what I’m adding to the world by being here. I will say it’s a huge step up from I used to think I was actively toxic. I had the mindset that I started each day with a negative amount of points, and I had to claw my way to zero in order not to be a sum negative to the world. I don’t know why I had this mindset, though I’m sure it had something to do with my very critical childhood, but it persisted through my thirties.
It was a trap, of course, because I started every day at a negative (indeterminate) number. Even if I managed to make my way to zero (in my brain, which I never did), any good points would be wiped out overnight. I can say that now and see it with such clarity, but while I was in the middle of it, it seemed like the way it should be.
Side Note: For years, I had a voice in my head that I dubbed The Dictator. He (and it was a he) would order me about, saying what I should and shouldn’t do. He was capricious in that what he deemed appropriate was, well, pretty much the same as my family, but hardened into a rigidity that was dangerous. I felt helpless to stop it, and it took many years of therapy and taiji to quiet the voice. I don’t know when I stopped hearing it, but it’s been gone for some time. I’m glad about that, but what’s replaced it is more insidious. It’s not a voice, but just a feeling of general malaise. You would think it’s better, and it is in general, but it’s also harder to combat. It sounds so reasonable when it’s saying unreasonable things.
I don’t want to die, per se. I just am not enthused about being alive. I know that may seem like a difference without distinction, but it’s a matter of emphasis. I am not actively thinking about killing myself (which I have in the past), but I’m not particularly enamored with being alive, either. I don’t see the point, especially since we’re all going to die in the end, anyway. Again, I’m not looking forward to dying–indeed, I’m still quick afraid of it–but I just don’t see the point of being alive.
It’s not that I don’t love my cat, some of my family, or my friends. It’s not as if I’m experiencing hardship at the moment. It’s not that life is so hard. It’s not like I don’t have things I enjoy in life–taiji, for example. It’s just that…everything is hard. For example. When I need to go to Cubs, I have to talk myself into doing it. It’s three minutes from my house, and it takes me fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s a half-hour experience that should not be a big deal. And yet. I also wanted to order noodles for the weekend because I’m sick and that’s my comfort food. I was going to do it last week, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew what I wanted, so it would have been a five minute call at most. I just couldn’t do it, though, and it took all I had to make the call Friday morning.
I’m sick as hell right now, and all I really want to do is sleep. Which I can’t do. Sleep is not my friend. What I can do is sit on my couch with a comforter/fleece throw over my legs with Shadow dozing on my legs as well. I’m watching mindless YouTube videos while trying to talk myself into getting up and getting the last of the noodles (sob) from the fridge. And Chinese BBQ pork, which is delicious. I’ve been hungry for about an hour, but I haven’t managed to haul my ass off the couch just yet.
I’ve been up for roughly three hours, and I already need a nap.