I still think about killing myself.
I’m medicated now, have been for a little while. I don’t like to talk about it, not because it’s embarrassing (it’s not), but because for very good reason I’m an extremely private person and there are people in my life (and people who used to be in my life) who I’d frankly rather didn’t know. They’ll see this and they’ll know now, and it really doesn’t matter.
I’ve been medicated before, many times, many different drugs. They gave me Prozac when I was fourteen and the hairline scars on my forearm give testimony to how well that worked. (Fun fact: Shards of glass from a broken lampshade cut through skin like a scalpel with almost no pain.) They tried other things on me, none of which ever had a noticeable positive result. People repeatedly told me to keep trying, usually giving up on me after chirpily deciding that I wasn’t making an effort.
The pills I’m currently taking had an immediate and shocking effect on me: I actually felt good. I suddenly got a job, started going outside and enjoying my hobbies, lost weight, began repairing fractured relationships and making new ones, went back to church and got involved in ministry again, and succeeded in muscling through various roadblocks that would previously have sent me hurtling into a dark corner. I still have problems, like paying the bills and not getting on my boss’s (very broad) bad side, but I have a good, stable life.
When I lie in bed at night, I imagine being stabbed in the chest by an intruder with a very big knife. I imagine putting a bullet through my brain at just the right angle to prevent me from living on in a persistent vegetative state. Driving home from work on the Interstate, I imagine revving up my car to ramming speed and crossing the median as soon as I see an eighteen-wheeler or, better yet, a car hauler.
I imagine getting fired — a fear my boss likes to cultivate among all the employees — and calmly driving my car into the Peace River at sunset. This particular ideation actually terrifies me, the thought of a slow death by drowning and my last suffocating moments being saturated with panic, but it comes into my mind whenever I make a big enough mistake on the job and think, “Well, this could be it.”
I don’t think about my loved ones when these notions intrude. Guilt trips, whether internal or external, stopped working on me years ago. (Seriously, don’t try it. You’ll be moved into the “Don’t Confide” column.) I sometimes think about God, but I know where I’m going when I die. I imagine the crash, the home invasion, the gunshot, and I have a vague sensation of “This will probably hurt.” With the exception of the car in the body of water scenario, none of these thoughts scare me. It’s probably a side effect of the meds, a flattening of the affect, presumably.
I don’t think about it all the time. I don’t talk about it, because I can’t afford to pay the hospital and ambulance bill if a well-meaning loved one decides they just can’t take the chance that I might hurt myself again. (Funny how people’s consciences aren’t legal tender, no?) I write about it once in a while, pray about it when I remember to.
After all these years, it might simply be habit. Like how I still don’t own a toaster even though I could afford to buy one, because I spent all those years being broke and denying myself all but the most crucial of purchases. I got so used to never being able to afford anything that it doesn’t even occur to me that I could buy a toaster. And I’ve wanted to kill myself my whole life.
I’m not going to do it, but I still think about it.