Today would have been my sister’s 41st birthday if she hadn’t committed suicide back when she was 35. It is really weird now because I am 35, so I am the exact same age she was when she died. For the first time ever, I will soon be older than my sister ever was. I won’t be the younger sister anymore…or at least that is how it feels.
Last night I didn’t sleep well at all, I had nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. None of them were specifically about my sister, but I can’t help but wonder if subconsciously the feelings I have about her birthday rolling around might not have affected my state of mind. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it being her birthday until a few minutes ago when I looked at the date on my computer clock and it hit me. Of course, this time of year I often think about her, but I am not good at keeping track of days. When you don’t work outside the home, it is easy to forget what day it is.
I’m sorry if this entry is a bit of a ramble, but I have so many mixed emotions and still so much pain about it all that it might not come out as orderly as my normal posts. Days like this really get to me, even if I don’t consciously think about them. It is like a lurking shadow hanging over the entire week or month. I’m sad today and now I’ve remembered why.
Kind of a downer subject today, but it is something I feel like I need to say. Please note I am not in any immediate danger, nor am I planning to hurt myself in any way. This is simply a post about WHY I would likely commit suicide if I ever did. I am sharing this in the hope that others will come to care about these issues and learn to empathize with people like me.
If I were to ever commit suicide, there are two likely scenarios why, and both have a lot to do with our often selfish American culture/government and the view that many people have that everyone should just “fend for themselves”, regardless of their actual ability to do so. I honestly cannot see myself committing suicide simply because of depression, loneliness, bipolar, Asperger’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any of the myriad other struggles I face on a daily basis. I have survived those things for years and will likely continue to do so. However, if I did ever kill myself, here are the two likely culprits:
- Lack of medical care. This is a real possibility. In our country, basic healthcare is not guaranteed to everyone like it is in most of the developed world. Were I unable to afford treatment for my conditions (especially the depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other chronic pain/illness conditions I have) I can see myself being simply unable to bear the pain for extended periods of time with no relief in sight. If you have never had a pain condition that unbearable you are extremely lucky, if you have had conditions like that, you likely understand how lack of treatment, and especially adequate pain relief, could drive you over the edge.
- An inability to provide for myself or take care of myself without any help. Due to the many conditions mentioned above (and the associated conditions I didn’t mention), it would be extremely hard for me to provide entirely for myself. If my husband were to die and I was unable to get help for basic survival, my greatest fear of becoming homeless and penniless might indeed come true. There is a great lack of resources for many of the conditions I have, especially for Asperger’s. High-functioning is a title I semi hate because it gives people the illusion we don’t really struggle as much as lower functioning autistics or that we should be able to “fit in” with the “real world” and be entirely self-sufficient. Many of us simply can’t. We try. We fail. We fail again. And again and again… We panic. We often have ptsd and enormous amounts of social anxiety. We feel like little kids trying to “play” at being an adult. We struggle with selective mutism. We have meltdowns. We are intellectually intelligent, but often severely lacking in common sense and street smarts. We suffer sensory issues that neurotypicals can’t even imagine dealing with. Combine all that with the bipolar, and is it any wonder that half the time I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing in this world?
*Art by Maranda Russell
Life is pain.
And I don’t mean that
in some philosophical
bullshit way…(or maybe I do?)
Life is pain, whether it
be physical, mental,
emotional, or existential.
The gentle yearning ache
of a heart perpetually unfulfilled…
The bittersweet bile of nostalgia
creeping up one’s throat…
The sharp bite of our
unreliably aging bones…
The mind-numbing weight
of each day survived intact…
The desperate call of a soul
that may or may not actually exist…
~ Maranda Russell
Lately I’ve hit the worst and longest lasting reading slump I can remember. For at least a couple months now I have struggled with picking up a book (any book) and reading it. I’ve tried a multitude of genres and subject matter, so I don’t think that is the issue. I’ve tried books of different lengths and even graphic novels and books with lots of pictures and still find myself throwing most of them to the side relatively quickly and just losing interest. I’m starting to worry this may be my new normal.
But WHO AM I if I no longer like to read? Reading and being a devoted reader has been such a huge part of my identity for so long that I feel lost without the passion for books I’ve always had. If you aren’t a reader, I know you will probably think this is a stupid post, but if you are like me and love to live in other worlds through print, you probably get my sense of despair and existential angst over this matter.
I feel so desperately lonely sometimes, and at those times it feels like I am not only experiencing my own personal loneliness, but the loneliness of humanity in general. During those times I mourn how disconnected we have all become, and I consider how alone each of us really is in our own thoughts and emotions. No matter how deeply we want to relate to one another, there is a shallowness that is unavoidable due to separation and individuality.
Maybe I am overthinking things or ruminating far too much, but sometimes I despair of existence and wish I could truly bridge the chasm between my own mind and heart and another’s.
The following is a poem about depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder:
The Problem is Me
Written By: Maranda Russell
The problem is me.
The problem has always been me.
It wouldn’t matter
where I go,
where I live,
what house I call home,
who is at my side,
who is under my feet,
who is in power,
or what is going on –
the problem remains
as the problem is me.
Tonight was a bad night. The pain, isolation, and despair came crashing down so hard and fast that I crawled off the couch and collapsed onto the carpet, on my side, in a loose fetal position and just wept. I gripped the beige carpet fibers in my fingers and pulled as the tears pooled below my cheek. I pinched myself. I aimlessly pummeled the floor. The anger exploded in that way it always does, boomeranging right back into myself. I considered my options. All the ways it could end. The option of reaching out for help. The feeling that grasping for that help would only inconvenience others. After all, my husband has to work tomorrow, he needs his sleep. I can’t take the car, who would bring it back to him?
Eventually, I made my way outside. Hoping the cold would numb it all. I walked on the icy, wet grass and then took a seat on the deck stairs. Soon my feet were frozen numb, and my body curled inward, instinctively seeking to conserve its heat, even as I wished that I could bear it long enough to freeze. Dark thoughts of black toes breaking off soon made hypothermia a less attractive ending. If only it were like a Jack London novel, a slow nodding off into warm, cozy whiteness.
Eventually, I found myself back where I started, on the couch, hoping to find comfort on electronic waves, here in the place where lost things seem to gather in today’s society. I soon stumbled across someone else crying and hugging a giant stuffed giraffe and it soothed the edges just a little. Now, I can only hope tomorrow is brighter.